An Interview with Abi Roberts

Its early May, & Scotland has just had two days of unbroken sunshine IN A ROW – my god it must be Summer. That means the Fringe is coming & the Mumble will be getting ready to for the onslaught of Comedians into Edinburgh, some of whom we will be interviewing, beginning with Abi Roberts.—-

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Hi Abi, so where ya from & where ya at, geographically speaking?

Born Ely Estate, Cardiff, moved to London when I was about 6, went to Swansea University to study Russian, then to Moscow Conservatoire to study opera. Now live in London but gad about gigging all over the shop.  This week: Folkestone, Cambridge, London. Next week, Derby, Brighton, Exmouth!

When did you first realise you were, well, funny?

I realised I was able to be funny and hold attention of a group at school. I had a Miss Herbert – a real bully of a geography teacher. She was very patronising, posh and a right twat. She looked like a hippopotamus. At a school revue, I dressed up as her and did an impersonation of her and everyone laughed. The second time was about 14, my school put on a production of Cinderella. Course I wasn’t cast as Cinders…that went to my pretty, blond classmate..so I was cast as the Fairy Godmother. They gave me a really dull script so I ignored that and I changed all the lines to a Billy Connolly Glasgow accent, with loads of “wee man” and “big man” and it brought the house down..got into a lot of trouble for that one….I used the word “bollocks” without knowing what it meant….

Who are your comedy idols?

Richard Pryor

Eddie Murphy

Billy Connolly

Jim Carey

Lee Mack

Upon which life-experiences do you draw your own comedy?

All of them. School, University, Being a dancer, musical tastes and singing styles and singer, Russia, the general public, my mother. Language and accents. My other half. Everything really. My comedy is very physical, so I act out a lot of the stuff onstage. I’m not a stand in one spot comic.  My life is frenetic, so my comedy is as well.

Last year you performed in Russia – in Russian – can you tell us about the experience?

I don’t want to give too much away so you’ll have to come and see the show! To give you a taste..I went there last year and was heckled by the Russian Mafia….who later bought me a HUGE bottle of vodka because my Russian was so good and they enjoyed the show.  There is opera, hip hop, Cossack dancing and a dog that uses a human loo.

What are your own links to Russia?

Well, I speak Russian and my family has always had links to it….via my father who went to Russia a lot as part of his job.  I hadn’t been back there since the 90s when I was at the Conservatoire studying opera, but I went back there last year to be the first UK comic to do stand-up in Russia in Russian. I did four nights out there and it was fantastic…packed out a 160 seater every night. A wonderful experience and it’s all in my ANGLICHANKA show.

What does Abi Roberts like to do when shes not being funny?

I watch Columbo…I am addicted. One day soon I am going to do a show about Columbo and his detective philosophy of life. I’m a big film buff so I watch a lot of films.  I’m currently writing a pilot for TV so that’s taking up a lot of my spare time at the moment.

How do you find the mega-mash-up that is the Edinburgh Fringe?

Love it. I did Edinburgh as a singer/cabaret act in the past and since 2012 (when I became a full time stand up), I’ve been doing stand-up shows there. It’s so nice not having props, costumes and endless music cues and just being able to talk to an audience and make them laugh. It’s also a great chance to catch up with friends you don’t see much of…when you’re doing comedy clubs week in, week out, you only see friends for 5 minutes in the green room before you do your set, so Edinburgh is a great chance to catch up and the best example of working hard and playing hard.  It also is a fab opportunity to hone material..25 shows over three weeks…and this year I’m doing two shows: ANGLICHANKA at the Underbelly and my new work-in-progress show FAT GIRL DANCING at the Voodoo Rooms as part of the PBH Free Fringe so I will have tons of new stuff honed and ready for use in clubs. I usually take a holiday straight after Edinburgh as I’m knackered.

What have you got in store for us this year?

ANGLICHANKA is currently touring but coming back to the Underbelly White Belly at 6.40pm from 3-27th August and my new work-in-progress show FAT GIRL DANCING is at the Voodoo Rooms Speakeasy in the Edinburgh New Town at 4.15pm 6th to 27th.  I’ve just been in two comedy films as well, “One Under” and “The Honeymoon” which everyone should be able to see later this year. There’s also other very exciting stuff happening for me toward the end of this year but I’m sworn to secrecy.. watch this space!

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