Interview: Rarely Asked Questions – Vikki Stone

You never quite know where a comedy career is going to take you. For classically trained Vikki Stone – previously best known for her comic songs about Brian Cox and Phillip Schofield – it has taken her to the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, where she has been part of the BBC presenting team. In her Prom podcasts she has interviewed the likes of Jamie Cullum, Quincy Jones, Daniel Barenboim and Sir Simon Rattle. Stone cut her teeth, however, on the comedy circuit and at the Edinburgh Fringe, and she returns to the Fringe this August for just one show. But it's a very big one at the end of the festival at the Pleasance Grand which holds 700 people. Stone will be performing her self-penned Concerto for Comedian and Orchestra with a full supporting cast. Read the interview below to discover quite how big the orchestra is. It's a long way from Phillip Schofield.

Vikki Stone – Concerto for Comedian and Orchestra is at the Pleasance Grand on August 27. Tickets here.

1. What is the last thing you do before you go onstage (apart from check your flies and/or check your knickers aren't sticking out of your skirt and check for spinach between your teeth)?


I often forget to check that I'm properly dressed actually, and on more than one occasion I have been really paranoid that when an audience is laughing in odd places, I've been accidentally flashing.  


However, most of my shows have involved props or lots of tech, so just before I go onstage I tend to check my props in a slightly anxious way, even though I know I've checked them already.


2. What irritates you?


Conference calls. You'd think that by working in the arts, I wouldn't have to suffer the pain of a multi-way conference call, but I do. They are always SO tedious. You spend forty minutes on the phone discussing things, with people you cannot identify, that could be said in a one paragraph email.


3. What is the most dangerous thing you have ever done?


I once locked myself in my own garden, and the only way back in the house was through an open upstairs window.  Myself and an ex boyfriend decided to build a tower up to said window, with a patio table, a wheelie bin and a recycling box and then climbed up it. 


Pretty damned dangerous, I think you'll agree.

4. What is the most stupid thing you have ever done?


I've done many, many stupid things, but taking an orchestra to the Edinburgh Fringe this year has to be up there.


Orchestras are expensive, and the maths of the Edinburgh Fringe don't add up at the best of times, let alone when your show involves a conductor, 7 violins, 4 violas, 2 cellos, a double bass, flute, clarinet, oboe, bassoon, 2 French horns, trumpet, trombone, celeste (a keyboard, not a real one, I'm not THAT stupid), harp, 3 timpani, vibraphone, xylophone, bass drum, tam tam (gong), glockenspiel and various other percussion.


I'm glad I just wrote that all down, because this interview is actually now doubling up as a tech spec. 

5. What has surprised you the most during your career in comedy?

The extraordinary and amazing places it has taken me.


I've ended up doing stuff like a TED Talk at CERN, playing the typewriter with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, and, right now as I type this, I'm in a dressing room backstage at the BBC Proms. 


I know that I'm very, very lucky to have done some of the things that I have over my career in comedy, and I don't take it for granted. 


Interview continues here.


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