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The Golden Girl

Idil Sukan

Not too long ago, Sara Pascoe was a struggling actress nobody had heard of. Now she’s a TV regular, a Fringe favourite and a top-class comic. She tells David Hepburn about success, her love of Edinburgh and mad teenage crushes.


HEN she was 15-years-old, Sara Pascoe ran away from home to marry Robbie Williams, spending a night outside the television studio where the object of her affection was due to appear. The teenager soon trudged home without the Take That star; the failure to win the singer’s hand was destined to become one of the very few achievements to elude the grasp of the multi-talented actor, comedian and writer. In recent years Pascoe has appeared in numerous television series on both sides of the Atlantic, working with many of her comedy heroes in the process. Her impressive IMDb entry now includes Campus, The Thick of It, Being Human, The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret and Twenty Twelve, yet not long ago she was just another struggling actress, before a dalliance with standup saw her begin her swift ascent. “I’d been acting since I was 18 and wasn’t getting anywhere,” explains Pascoe, “so I gave standup a go. Five months

later I did well in a competition, got picked up by my agent, and after another three months I had my first sitcom.” Soon after, in August 2010, Pascoe arrived in Edinburgh with the first of her solo shows Sara Pascoe Vs Her Ego. Fast forward two years and she is preparing her eagerly awaited third offering, Sara Pascoe –The Musical. It sees her leave behind the surreal character comedy which won her fans (but split the critics) and embrace a new autobiographical style. “It’s a musical of my life, although there aren’t really any proper songs in it,” she says. “It focuses on my school days and includes quite a lot of feminist polemic argument. It’s very personal. My first two shows were a learning experience and I always talked about made-up things. Now I’m essentially talking about funny stuff that has happened to me. It’s been a gradual evolution.” She confesses running a few of the stories past her parents, both to verify her recollections and ensure they didn’t mind airing a few family skeletons. “My mum and dad were teenagers when they had

me. Mum was a fan of Flintlock, a band that my dad was in who had a bit of success. She met him when she was 14 and just said ‘that’s the man I’m going to marry.’ She was angry with me when I ran away to marry Robbie but I was only following her example…” Now she’s traded her obsession with popstars for a love of Edinburgh, bewildered at some of the cynicism displayed towards the festival memorably labelled “exams for clowns” by Andrew Maxwell. “August is my New Year and I get really excited every time. I remember Tim Minchin saying that after you’ve done 12 Fringes you’ve effectively been an Edinburgh resident for a year, which is a nice way to look at it. It’s a real home from home for me and when I get off the train it’s like I’ve never been away. Some people get to Edinburgh and get depressed because they start feeling like everything’s already been done, but I just find it inspiring.” Her attitude to Edinburgh has also subtly changed with experience, matching the evolution of her comedy style. “The first year you have lots of pressure because of the Foster’s Comedy Awards Newcomers Prize – the one that everyone thinks they could win. Every comedian has delusions of grandeur and you can’t get it out of your mind. Even if all your reviews are shit you always think you have a chance,” she says. “The second year you can relax a bit and concentrate on whether you’re getting a returning audience. Then it’s about that one really successful show. I guess I’ve done alright but I’m still waiting for that year. Hope keeps you going.” Although standup held the eventual key to her acting career, she sees her profitable television work largely as a way to continue performing live without having to pander to commercial sensibilities. “Anything you can do to take the pressure off is great. The more people in the audience who presume you’re not shit, the easier it gets. Tim Key said that if 50 per cent of the audience just know who you are then you are half way there. It also means I don’t have to earn money from standup. I don’t have to do any horrible gigs.” It’s all part of her resolutely positive outlook, which sees her draw a blank when asked about the negative aspects of the Fringe. “I don’t sleep enough but I can’t blame Edinburgh for that. I even like all the hills because they help to tone my legs. I look at myself in the mirror at the end of August and think ‘thanks Edinburgh!’”   f

Sara Pascoe - The Musical! @ Assembly George Square

9:15pm – 10:15pm, 1–27 Aug, not 14, £6– £12

edinburgh festival preview guide 2012 fest 17

Fest Preview 2012  

The definitive Festival magazine

Fest Preview 2012  

The definitive Festival magazine