5 things interview with Live At The Apollo’s Harriet Kemsley
Can you remember the first time you made someone laugh?
When I was at primary school, I played the Grandma in Red Riding Hood and I remember my classmates laughing and thinking wow this feels great. Also, my family found it really funny when I got pissed on by a rhinoceros
Do you prefer performing comedy on television or on stage?
Nothing can beat the feeling of connecting directly with an audience right in front of you and the magic of live comedy. But also, nothing can beat professional make-up artists
How do you cope with heckles?
It depends. I think people sometimes think they’re helping which is annoying as if they’re thinking this it never makes the show better. But sometimes people just want to be involved and they genuinely can’t help themselves. You never want to go in too hard to start with as you can lose the audience. Once the audience is equally annoyed by them then you can get them. It happens less than TikTok would have you believe.
How much time do you spend time writing comedy?
I generally write little notes on my phone as I’m walking around living my life You need both, because if you sit in a room, you have nothing to talk about but also if I don’t have time to focus I won’t be able to make the joke as good as it can be. My aim is to spend more time writing than I do on social media! And one day I will achieve it!
Who do you admire in comedy?
My favourite comedian is Maria Bamford. She’s completely unique, welcomes you into her world but is also so funny. I also admire my husband comedian Bobby Mair’s ability to leave old food in the car.
How hard is it not to repeat other people’s routines and jokes?
I often worry I might subliminally pick something up from the internet! But that’s why it’s good to be as truthful as possible as then you know it comes from an authentic place. Also, people always say that I’m weird so that helps.
Do you ever write material with Bobby?
We definitely help each other. I read this great tip from Seinfeld who said always say a joke on stage first before you tell anyone and that’s been really helpful otherwise you can completely lose confidence when they stare back at you blankly. Me and Bobby know each other’s voices so well so we can help each other. Some of my best jokes I’ve written when I’m driving, and Bobby sits in the passenger seat and asks me what I think about certain topics. Having a focus on something helps your brain be more creative and less panicked and having something to do stops us arguing about my driving!
What would you say to a school child that wanted to go into comedy?
Live a life. I think having other passions and jobs and life things outside of comedy will give you lots more stories and make your comedy that much more interesting. You can always start young but keep up other things for as long as you can. Also don’t believe them, Latin will never be helpful
What do you make of comedians being cancelled at Edinburgh for being offensive such as Jerry Sadowitz?
I wasn’t there so I don’t know what happened!
Do you ever go back to Canterbury? If so, what are your 5 favourite things to do there?
Absolutely I love Canterbury. So, the best food is at Cafe Des Amis which is this amazing Mexican restaurant which is rumoured Orlando Bloom would go with his Mum. The best nightclub used to be Churchills but before I left it was Alberrys. I like to browse in Fenwicks, sometimes they have completely random things but that’s half the fun. I love going to the theatre, there’s The Marlowe and The Gulbenkian (where I’m doing my tour show in December). And the best place to sneakily kiss a boy is the Dane John park.