Rachel Parris - On The Mic

Rachel’s new show Keynote, is about being asked to go back to her old school to give an inspirational speech. What were they thinking? Featuring songs, stand up, characters and fun…

In the show, I do jokes about the big stuff: feminism, drugs, The Kardashians, as well as characters – I play a Shakespearean King in battle, a mother-of-the-bride, and a 110 year old Oscar winner, and they’re all giving the speech of their lives. Through the standup, the songs, the speeches and some help from the audience, I figure out what I can say to a room full of over-educated teenagers when I go back to talk to them in September (I can’t stress enough this is actually happening!)

What does Edinburgh mean to you?

This will be my 11th year performing at the Fringe and it feels like a second home now. It is what my year is shaped around,not just doing the show but the experience of your entire industry – most of your friends, upping sticks and settling down in a different city at the other end of the country, to do what they do under ridiculously high pressure. Everyone’s absolutely knackered, it’s a big ask – most people do at least two shows every day, usually more, with all the extra gigs you do to sell tickets, and most of us flyer our own shows for a couple of hours every day too, So when you come together for a whiskey at the end of the night it is such a treat, and you feel like you’ve earned it!

Who inspires you and why? My friend Anna Morris (character comedian who plays Georgina the Bride) is one of the many women in comedy who inspire me. She got gastroenteritis the day before one of her big sold-out show at the Udderbelly this year – and she got through it through sheer will and an inordinate amount of medication. I was fretting about a show I was doing a few weeks ago and she texted me saying “Don’t worry Parris – if I can do it with the shits in a wedding dress, then YOU can do this!”


Describe your best or worst experiences on stage.

Best – When I supported Nick helm at the O2 Forum – I felt like a rockstar! Huge crowd, I was scared they wouldn’t like me cos I’m so different to Nick, but they liked what I did, and it was epic! Worst – I try to forget them – I could say this week in Brighton – one of those gigs that comes along once in a while where you play to silence and rolling eyes and there’s nothing you can do about it!

Describe your best or worst review.

Best – probably one in Broadway Baby actually (not just saying that!) in my debut show that said “Parris is like a summer storm; sunny and playful one minute, dark and treacherous the next.” Which I loved! Worst – oh probably Kate Copstick last year when she said my rap would make TuPac turn in his grave. I don’t think she got the point.

If you weren’t a performer, what would you be?

A journalist I think – I’d like to write about big issues, but also bold lipsticks.

What was the last book you read?

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman – I’ve been watching the TV show of American Gods, and I thought I’d better go back and read some Gaiman, and it is very much up my street!

What are you listening to at the moment?

Thank you for asking, the album I just downloaded is by The Staves and I’m very into Clean bandit’s Symphony – it makes me dance like a loon.

Imagine that the BBC have asked you to produce a primetime show. What would it be and who else would be involved?

I love those TV shows where there’s sketches, funny songs, proper variety – like what Victoria Wood used to do, and what Live at the Electric did actually. I’d do a show like that where you could showcase all my favourite performers doing what they do best. You could have Spencer Jones, Lazy Susan, Daphne, Jenny Bede, Rhys Jones, Aunty Donna, Tez Ilyas, and heck, Austentatious! I don’t think you need a theme – just funny and fun.

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