Andrew Dipper

Sarah Millican talks Twitter trolls, being famous, why she won’t play arenas

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Leicester Comedy Festival director Geoff Rowe has been speaking to Sarah Millican at a live Q&A as part of the festival’s amazing 2015 programme. Below are some of the highlights.

On dealing with Twitter trolls:

“When my TV show was on I’d have a piece of paper and write down all the insults I got; fat, ugly, shit hair…whatever and tally them off with a five bar gate. While that seems messed up, there was a logic to it, because if there were 2,000 comments and I counted up 43 insults it didn’t seem so bad. But I realise it’s messed-up and I don’t do it any more. I used to sing, ‘We will, we will block you,’ as I pressed the button… even alone in my hotel room.”

On being famous:

“Being recognisable – I wince at the word fame – it’s not always very nice. It’s odd that sometimes someone will pose for a photo with you and they are physically shaking. I’ve had people scream in Millie’s Cookies. It’s weird. Just put the cookies in the bag! Sometimes you just want to overindulge in cookies in peace.”

On whether you can joke about topics like rape:

“You can joke about anything as long as your angle is healthy – racism, misogyny, whatever. I’ve done jokes in the past about rape from a feminist angle, but there are some buzzwords in comedy. When I did the preview show here, I ended on a rape joke, and I still stand by it. But half the audience thought it was edgy and hilarious, but half said ‘no!’ But my show was dark and filthy and I wanted to give people a fair sample; so the audience who would come would like that sort of thing. And they did.”

On her first gig:

“The first comedy club I’d ever been in, I was on at. I didn’t realise these little gigs with these amazing people even existed.”

On doing new act competitions:

“Agents are lazy at looking for new talent as they are already busy looking after their clients. So they go to the new act finals and see eight or ten of the best. When I was doing them, I came second quite a lot. But winning, I think you feel ‘I’m here; I’ve made it.’ Second makes you work harder.”

On TV:

“You might not laugh at what I say but I’ll have enjoyed saying it. To go into TV or even writing columns where other people are picking what stays and goes, it feels closed off.”

On performing in arenas – and why she won’t do it:

“I’m very sedentary on stage, and that’s not best suited to arenas. And you know how much I worry. Imagine how I would shit my pants if I had to sell an arena. I did five minutes at the Channel 4 Comedy Gala in the O2 Arena. It was one of the worst five minutes of my life in comedy. You hear your own voice echoing back at you. It confirmed all my fears this would be hell. Arenas are good because you can play to a lot of people if you haven’t much time; and it’s good if you want to make a lot of money fast; but it’s not for me. I really like being on stage and I wouldn’t want anything to make that a shitty experience.”

With thanks to Chortle for the transcript.