Performer: Harriet Braine Photograph by: Darren Bell Show: Harriet Braine’s Apocalibrary Venue: Laughing Horse @ Counting House - Loft Promoter: Indy Online: Box Office Facebook Website
Tell me about your Edinburgh show.
This year, Matthew, I’ll be doing a show called Harriet Braine’s Apocalibrary, which is a very silly show about what would happen to a librarian in an apocalypse. The apocalypse is Trump’s fault. It is an excuse for me to play parody songs about more dead men. Last year it was artists mostly, this year it’s authors mostly.
Tell me about your first gig.
I have 3 different first gigs: one is the first time I ever did what became my comedy act in front of a small crowd – but it wasn’t a “gig” in any formal sense, it was an exhibition opening party at art college and so I guess it was performance art… My second first gig was a few months later headlining a poetry slam. Again, not really a comedy gig (but still one of my best gig experiences ever. It’s amazing being the comic relief after poetry). My first gig in a comedy club was a heat in the 2016 Musical Comedy Awards. It was great, I had to bring lots of friends and family to vote me into the next round, and then we went for pizza.
Do you have any rituals before going on stage?
No, not really. I’m never that prepared, sometimes I even tune my guitar onstage. People love that.
Tell me about your best and worst review.
My best review was by one of the lovely people who write reviews for Buxton Fringe shows. I have a feeling they are super-nice to everyone though… Buxton Fringe gave me a certificate too. Excellent taste, Buxton. My worst review was by a student reviewer who didn’t like the way I was making fun of “the great artists” in my Edinburgh show last year, and rather haughtily gave me two stars.
During this Edinburgh run, do you plan to read reviews of your show?
Yeah if I get any. It’s billed as a Work In Progress to try and avoid getting them, and so I can have a bit of fun with the show and not worry about pleasing critics. It makes me fuck up.
How do you feel about reviewers generally?
They make me feel nervous and weird usually, because I’m at that early stage where their opinions count a lot more than they would if I was well known. It really depends on the perceived power of the reviewer though. It’s a wide spectrum.
In April 2018, YouTube comedian, Markus Meechan (aka Count Dankula) was fined £800 for training his girlfriend’s pug dog to do a Nazi salute with its paw, in response to the phrase ‘Gas the Jews’. Do you believe Meechan committed a criminal offence, and why?
I make a joke about the Nazi pug in my show this year. No one knows this story outside the comedy world so I might have to drop it as maybe 5% of audience get it. I believe Meechan’s an idiot and possibly a far-right extremist idiot. Is it illegal to be one of those? We’re lucky enough to live in a country with relative free speech, and I feel like he just abused this, possibly for publicity. People get fined for doing much much less horrible things. But the word ‘criminal’ is perhaps the problem… I believe he should have been punished but not necessarily that he is a criminal like all the proper violent criminals. I’m conflicted.
Are there any subjects that are not suitable for comedy?
I don’t think so, but if you are literally just insulting people it’s not comedy anymore.
Have you ever gone too far?
No I don’t think so. It’s not something I try to do, so it would be an accident if I had. For example I once called a man in the front row Raj when the MC had been chatting with him for ages and everyone knew he was called Sarj. I corrected myself loudly and apologised for doing a bit of “all men with turbans are called Raj” racism.
Looking back over your time as a comedian, tell me about the best gig of your career.
One of my best so far was so good because the MC was Jayde Adams whom I adore and the headliner was Tim Key whom I also adore. I was in the middle. I did really well, everyone else smashed it of course. Then we had some beer.