Katy Schutte is bringing a touch of the Gothic to this year’s Brighton Fringe…
Hello Katy, first things first, where are you from & where are you at, geographically speaking?
I live in London and I grew up in the South; Hampshire, Sussex.
When did you first realise you were funny?
There wasn’t a particular moment for me. My family have a good sense of humour. I guess it was more – discovering that other people aren’t always funny.
When did you first develop a passion for comedy?
I grew up on comedy. My Dad’s favourites were Oliver and Hardy, Morecombe and Wise, Victoria Wood and I saw my first Red Dwarf episode when I was 8 and can still quote series 1-5. I always read and watched comedy and I liked to write it myself from an early age.
Which comedian has made you laugh the hardest?
Many favourites have come and gone for me, but Bill Bailey is still one of the best. He’s chill, musical, mega-talented and still seems very down to earth. I also love Mike Birbiglia and his style of storytelling inspired my last show.
Can you tell us about the Maydays?
The Maydays are my improv family. I have been with the company for 15 years and we continue to develop and aspire and move forward. We were a short form improv troupe at the beginning, then with me and Rachel Blackman going to Chicago to learn, we took on long form improvisation and (with others) spread it throughout the UK.
What are the fundamental differences between improv & sketch comedy, & what skills are needed for each?
Improv is about other people. Improv doesn’t need to be funny. Stand-up is about frequency of laughs. Fundamentally, improv is a group activity and sketch probably means doing a first draft and bringing it to your director or team for re-writes and honing. Improv doesn’t always promise comedy, either; it might be an improvised play. A sketch comedian may not know how to improvise on stage with others and an improv comedian may not know how to write or deliver material. They are different animals.
What is it about being funny in front of other people that makes you tick?
It is thrilling. Knowing that you made other people happy is a superb feeling. The pitfall of all comedy though is that if you take the positives personally, you also have to take the negatives personally. The best thing is to regard your work at a distance. It worked or didn’t, you are still great.
You’ve got three comedians (dead or alive) coming round for dinner. Who would they be & what would you cook; starters, mains & dessert?
Firstly, cooking for three strangers would make me really stressed, so I’d cook easy, familiar stuff. I’d probably get a really good Olive bread to dip in oil and vinegar as a starter, Shakshuka or a feta filo pie made beforehand as the main. Dessert would be a pumpkin or banana cake. I’d want to invite comedian friends, but under pressure I’d invite Mike Birbiglia, Bill Bailey and Tamsin Greig.
You’re performed at the Brighton Fringe before – in fact you bloody won the thing. What’s the story?
The Maydays won Best Comedy Show with Mayday! The Musical when we were only a few years old as a company. It was a great boost and totally unexpected. Jimmy Carr gave us the award. I was nominated for Best Comedy Show in 2018 for Schutte the Unromantic. I had made the show specifically as a show I wanted to make, not to please anyone or as a career move or marketing ploy, so it was amazing to have my from-the-heart stuff validated. Then Joe Morpurgo bloody won.
You’re bringing a new show, LET’S SUMMON DEMONS, to this year’s Brighton Fringe; can you tell us about it?
I probably built an appreciative audience from my last show, but instead of capitalising on that, I’ve just gone off on a tangent. I felt compelled to make a show about witchcraft, the post #metoo world, the witch hunt of men and my Grandmother’s haunted house in Wales. It’s semi-immersive folk horror which is pretty far from Schutte the Unromantic. This one is called Let’s Summon Demons.
Where did you get the idea, & is the reality realising your original vision?
I’m really pleased with the show. It was well received at the London Horror Festival and I’m thrilled to bring it to VAULT this week and to Brighton in May. My team is amazing. The design and direction (Jonathan Monkhouse and John Henry Falle) are fantastic. I love the show and I think others will get a lot out of it too.
You’ve got 20 seconds to sell the show to somebody in the street…
If you like The Wicker Man, or any folk horror, if you like theatre that calls your beliefs into question, if you want to be involved, to bare your soul a little bit; this is your thing. It’s made by a witch and it’s fucking awesome.