The lovely leading ladies of Austentatious sat down to tea and answered some questions based on their experiences of being women in comedy. Read what they had to say below, and don't forget to book your tickets here!
It is a truth universally acknowledged that the stand-up comedy circuit has long since been dominated by gentlemen, have you found this to be the case or has it improved over the years? How have you combated these challenges?
Rachel: Yes, I think it's fair to say that the stand-up circuit
has been dominated by men in the past but while there are still challenges,
things are changing. As for the improv circuit - it is busting at the seams
with strong, experienced, hilarious women who regularly play
together, collaborate, and support each other. We combat
any challenges by being as funny as we can.
Seldom has an author given us so many inspiring female characters as Jane Austen, which do you most aspire to? And which gives you the most joy to play on stage?
Cariad: I will forever be a fan of Lizzie Bennet. Witty, smart and happy to get her skirts muddy, she is my favourite Austen character and a total inspiration. We never play specific Austen characters, just ladies in the world of Austen. However, I do love playing very ambitious mothers, there's nothing quite like demanding your daughter marries him simply because he's rich and then pretending to faint if she refuses.
Do you reach for the smelling salts before one of your live improvised performances? How do you survive the nerves or do you feel but none at all?
Cariad: Despite having performed Austen's lost works for nearly seven years, we do still get conniptions before a performance. We find a cup of tea, three rounds of crumpets, candied figs, roast duck, jellied terrine and a small snifter of snuff normally keeps the nerves at bay. Oh and sometimes a Diet Coke.
What do you favour? A rolling country estate audience or a house in the Town?
Amy: It is impossible for a girl to choose between the two! There is plenty to be enjoyed whilst rolling in the countryside - the views, the fresh air, the dream that one day you might inherit the County from a rich, distant relative. Whilst on tour we have visited many such a place, enjoyed plentiful cream teas and long walks and met the most wonderful people who aren't afraid to look you in the eye whilst making polite and jovial conversation. However, we also feel right at home when returning to our townhouse in London. We love to relish the sweet comforts of bustling around the city wearing earphones and indulging in a level or two of Candy Crush whilst riding upon the underground carriages.
What words of counsel would you offer to a young, sisterly woman starting out in the world of comedy?
Cariad: Keep going, this is a long, slow race and it can sometimes most certainly make you feel like calling the carriage and riding back to Pemberley with your bonnet between your legs. But if you remember why you started in comedy, it was normally because you just loved doing it, keep that in your heart and you'll stay on the right path. Oh, and marry a man of large fortune if you can as well.
Although 'there is nothing like staying at home for real comfort', why should audiences come to see Austentatious?
Amy: We all know that Jane enjoyed pulling on her slipper socks and binge watching Queer Eye of a Sunday evening - but there was nothing she loved more than a night at the theatre and a rollicking good giggle. In fact we're pretty certain Jane would have eagerly swapped a box-set for a night out at the Savoy. She would have swooned over the costumes, lusted after the skilful fingers of our live musicians and grasped at a freshly laundered handkerchief to mop away her tears of laughter had she bothered to stay alive long enough to join us for our improvised tale. And since Austentatious is entirely different each time (you the audience inspire our story with your suggestions) - we're convinced Jane would have been back every month. Of course, don't just take our word for it - the gentlefolk at The Times and The Guardian also recommend you book your tickets right away!
Austentatious are playing at the Savoy Theatre for multiple dates from 18 March onwards.