Kerry Godliman is a stand-up comedian and actress, she played Hannah in the Ricky Gervais sitcom Derek, has appeared on Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow and recently supported Micky Flanagan on tour. On the 22nd of February she will perform her new stand-up show ‘Face Time’ at Dave’s Leicester Comedy Festival. The Demon’s Comedy Editor, Matt Watts, talked to her about the show.
The theme of Godliman’s new show is communication. The show shares its name with Apple’s video-calling technology, so you may think that the show has a technological theme. You would be wrong. Godliman said that it’s actually “the opposite, it’s an anti-technology theme.” While it’s clearly not a celebration of modern technology, the show isn’t a techno-phobic rally either. Godliman enjoys some of the aspects of modern technology, saying “Of course it’s amazing, it’s brilliant, hours can be eaten by Facebook and Twitter and all these different ways but they’re still actually quite new as ways of communicating, they’re still a bit embryonic so I think I find them quite compelling.”
Stand-up comedy can be a lonely and solitary existence at times, mainly due to all the driving between gigs up and down the country. Bearing this in mind, modern communication technology should be welcomed by comedians. Godliman admits that a lot of her distaste for it comes from the fact that she can’t use it very well. “It’s just that I’m stupid, I’m too thick to work it all properly” she said jokingly.
Social media is particularly of interest to comedians as it makes it easy for fans or detractors to get in contact. “I love Twitter, I can spend hours on Twitter looking at utter sh*t. I’m not going to condemn it” said Godliman. The theme of her show appears to stem more from a love of the ‘live’ rather than being a Luddite. Be that live conversation, live music or, most importantly, live comedy.
Live comedy is a completely different experience to watching a DVD. One of the big differences is the ability to interact. “Sometime you chat to people and they contribute a dialogue, but predominantly it’s me speaking, but I’m not opposed to people speaking. I don’t get cross about it, it’s not like a one woman show” she said.
In Dave’s Leicester Comedy Festival she’s performing at Firebug, an intimate venue in the city centre. Having performed on Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow, you wouldn’t begrudge her feeling that this is a slight step down, but she assured me that this isn’t the case. “I play clubs all the time so I’m quite happy in smaller spaces. I think when you do stand-up you accept that you play all different sized rooms and they’re all a different experience. There’s something quite nice about it being intimate.”
Godliman recently played Hannah in Ricky Gervais’s Derek. Working with fellow comedians Gervais, David Earl (also appearing at the Leicester Comedy Festival) and Karl Pilkington was a change to the solitary work of a stand-up. “Sometimes I get a bit lonely with stand-up because you’re travelling on your own, performing on your own and writing on your own so it’s nice to have a break from that and work with other people and being part of a team and being a bit more ensemble-y.” Enjoyable as the experience was, it hasn’t put her off stand-up. “If I do that too long I miss stand-up because it’s nice to have all that control and autonomy and then I want to get back to that” she said. She enjoys balancing acting and stand-up and doesn’t think that either half of her career will ever dominate as they seem to have a symbiotic relationship. “I think being a stand-up partly contributed to me getting Derek and then getting Derek contributed to me wanting to tour so these two are interconnected so I’ll keep them both going.
“A lot of actors you know suffer a bit of unemployment but I’ve got another job, and then stand-ups get a bit lonely because it’s a lonely profession so I’m lucky that I can do both.”
It has occurred to Godliman that the profile-boost Derek gave her may result in people expecting her to be like her character when they come and see her show. “But people are sort of intelligent aren’t they? They’re not expecting me to come out in a tabard and do bed pan jokes?” she said.
The comedy market is bigger than ever, as shown by the popularity of the comedy festival. More people are trying it than ever too, which means there’s more comedy than ever but it also makes it a more competitive market. Godliman is glad that she isn’t starting out now, not least because she doesn’t know how to upload clips of gigs to YouTube. “It was competitive when I started but I gather it’s ten times worse now. But I don’t know about that. The impression I get from bits that I’ve read and heard is that you can get stage time and do it as a hobby or a passion but it’s very hard to make it a living because it’s too competitive and it’s hard to get that break.”
Whether it actually is more challenging or it just looks more challenging is up for debate though, as the comedy generation above Godliman were just as thankful that they didn’t start stand-up when she did. DMU Comedy Society know what it’s like to be trying stand-up in the current comedy climate. When asked what advice she’d give to DMU’s budding comedians Godliman said: “All I know is the way I did it, which is you gig and gig and gig and gig and get as much stage time as you possibly can and things just sort of grow organically from that process because you meet people out there and then you enter the competitions and it’s through the competitions that you get noticed by the industry, the agents and the producers and those people so there is only one route and that is the long route.”
Godliman doesn’t like having to boast about her own show to promote it, but when asked to do her reply sold it to me. “In a non-bolshie way, you might have a really nice time and we can have a laugh and talk about some things! It won’t change anyone’s life but it might be a pleasant way of spending an hour listening to jokes.”
Kerry Godliman will be performing Face Time at Firebug on the 22nd February. Click here to find out more and buy tickets.
Follow writer Matt Watts on Twitter: @Iammattwatts