Interview: Rarely Asked Questions – Katy Brand: Page 2 of 2

6. What do your parents/children (delete as applicable) think of your job?

I think my parents worry that it’s not very reliable, and not always very gentle on the soul, but they like that I’m doing what I love. My kids are only dimly aware of what I do, and that’s how I intend to keep it for as long as possible…

7. What’s the worst thing about being a comedian? 

It’s a mixture of luxury and loneliness. You spend a lot of time on your own, and that feeling seconds before you walk on stage is the worst – there is something very unnatural about walking into a room full of people and being the only one facing the wrong way.  It’s a combative stance and your body knows that in a fight, you would lose – you are outnumbered.  The effort it takes to control and override that fight or flight feeling, and walk out there anyway can be quite intense.  But then once you’re on, it all just melts away, you begin, and once the first laugh comes, you’re suddenly among friends.

8. I think you are very good at what you do (that’s why I’m asking these questions). What do you think of you?

Thanks!  That’s nice to hear. I think when I pull all the right levers and the stars align and I’m in charge of myself, then I’m good at what I do too. But I also know that I like to try new things, which means I often feel out of my depth and like I don’t quite know what I’m doing – I’m the only person in the world who has witnessed every one of my successes, but also every one of my failures, and sometimes it’s hard to keep a balanced view of both.


9. How much do you earn and how much would you like to earn?

It varies wildly.  In the 13 years since my first professional gig, I have earned as much as £150,000 a year, and as little as £12,000, and everything in between.  And it’s not a straight trajectory from low to high over the years either.  Sometimes that can be frightening, but it also forces you to do things you may not otherwise have done and on the whole, I have been glad of the tough times, in the end.  Although on balance, I’d rather have the money too… Someone once told me if you want to make it in a creative job, you have to keep your overheads low.  That’s the only way to survive.  I can’t say I’ve managed that all the time (I like nice stuff, I can’t deny it…I mean, who the fuck doesn’t?), but I keep it in mind.  And I try…I try.

That said, there have been times where I could have earned more in a year, but said no to something because I would be ashamed to do it, and though I have felt the pinch as a result, I don’t regret saying no. In the years I have earned the larger amounts, I have been very happy and not really wanted for anything, so consistently earning around that amount would make me happy.  That said,  I wouldn’t say no to a million.  Not a billion though – a billion is vulgar.


10. How important is luck in terms of career success – have you had lucky breaks? 

I like that quote, ‘I find the harder I work, the luckier I get’, and I think that is largely true.  There is luck involved, but you have to be in a position to exploit it when it falls into your lap, and that means doing the work and being prepared.  If you happen to meet a powerful producer in a queue for the loo, you need to have something ready to say.  The luck is the meeting; the work you have already done is the something ready to say.

11. Alan Davies has said that comedians fall into two categories - golfers and self-harmers. The former just get on with life, the latter are tortured artists. Which are you – or do you think you fit into a third category? 

That’s funny – if I had to choose, I would say I am more golfer than self-harmer. I am annoyingly optimistic, broadly speaking, and I have an almost lunatic level of self-belief.  That isn’t to say that I think everything I do is great – far from it, but I definitely feel that I am travelling in the right direction so long as I remain creative and productive.  I have had low periods, and times when I feel useless and like everything is against me, but thankfully they don’t last long.  I try not to have too many rigid ideas about what I should or shouldn’t be doing, and I’m not that bothered about comparing myself with other people (the inside of my own head is self-critical enough) so I think that helps.  But I’m 38, and I feel like I’ve got lots of fuel left in the tank and lots of things I could achieve if I really put my back into it.  Ask me again when I’m 50 and I’ve fucked it all up, and I might feel differently…

12. Who is your favourite person ever and why – not including family or friends or other comedians?

My favourite person ever??  What kind of question is that?  I’m going to say Maya Angelou.  And trust me, that’s as much of a surprise to me as it is to you.  Yes,  I really love Maya Angelou and I cried unexpectedly when she died.  I also like looking at pictures of Beyonce – I find it calming, but that’s not what you asked.  Oh, and also Doris Lessing – that video footage of her being annoyed about getting the Nobel Prize is wonderful, and the Golden Notebook has the best description I have ever read of posh boys being so polite they actually become rude (the politeness masks their deep contempt) – I had been trying to pin down that particular type for so long and then suddenly, there it was on the page – brutal and astute and right on the nail.

13. Do you keep your drawers tidy and if not why not? (please think long and hard about this question, it's to settle an argument with my girlfriend. The future of our relationship could depend on your response). 

My drawers are an absolute disgrace.  I mean, really.  I’m sorry if that’s not what you and your girlfriend need to hear, but seriously, my family are genuinely frightened to open my drawers.  That is how bad they are.  I can only tell the truth.  That is what comedians are for. (I assume you mean drawers as in ‘of stuff’, rather than knickers, but if it is the latter, I hope it goes without saying that mine are always in very good order…).

Katy Brand: I Could've Been an Astronaut is at the Pleasance Courtyard from August 2 - 26. Tickets here





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