"I interview comedians and funny people about their experiences of grief and death. It’s cheerier than it sounds" We chat with Cariad Lloyd
You might know Cariad Lloyd from QI. Or from Peep Show. Or Would I Lie To You? Or maybe even from Pointless Celebrities. Either way you'll know she's funny. What you might not know is that Cariad has her own multi-award winning podcast, focused on death and the human reaction to it. Talking with comedians gives The Griefcast a lighter feel than you might think. We asked her about the podcast, as well as whether Sandi Toksvig is all that, and some other stuff.
Hey Cariad, how the devil are you?
I’m good but TIRED because I have a toddler, a podcast and too many epiosdes of Queer Eye to catch up on.
What have you been up to today?
I recorded an episode of my show, the Griefcast with actor Rebecca Peyton, then I ran across town to record some topical changes on Lobby Land, a new satirical comedy for Radio 4 I’m in. Then I watched Queer Eye.
Of your many comedy-related activities, what do you think people know you best from?
Depends on how you take your comedy, live or telly. I mostly get recognised on the tube from Peep Show.
And if you could choose, what would you actually want to be best known for?
I am happy that anyone watches comedy whether that’s improv, panel shows or sitcoms, so that I can carry on doing it.
Tell us about the GriefCast?
Griefcast is a podcast that I created, where I interview comedians and funny people about their experiences of grief and death. It’s cheerier than it sounds.
They’re really unique in that you strike a balance between talking respectfully about death, and making it light-hearted and not morose. How difficult is it to keep that balance each episode?
It really depends on the person and their story, that's what dictates the balance. Someone can come in and talk about their Nan but still be devasted, in contrast to someone talking about the loss of a child in pregnancy, who is coping with it through humour. I just want to hear their story, however they want to tell it.
How do you figure out who’s going to be on an episode?
I ask some people, some people ask me. It’s a sensitive balance, they need to want and be ready to tell their story.
If I only had time to listen to one episode of the 40 so far, which one would you tell me to hear?
It would depend on what type of grief you’re after. We cover all sorts from old to young, mums to dads, parents to grandparents, even dogs. Start with someone you know and then just dip in with whatever story interests you after that.
You’re all over the telly, what’s your favourite show to do?
It’s just honestly nice to work. I love doing all of it, I have worked in some bad jobs before I got to do this, so I am very grateful that this is now my job.
And the hardest work?
Staying awake when you don’t drink caffeine.
You’ve been on QI, and I heard Phill Jupitus recently say that the most irritating question he gets is “What’s Stephen Fry like?”. Well, what’s Sandi Toksvig like? I remember her from Number 73 in the 1980s.
Sandi is incredible, I absolutely love her. She is hard-working, kind and also, brilliantly funny. She makes you feel relaxed and welcome. It’s not an easy job and she make it look effortless. in short, I am a bit in love with her.
Is it patronising that the BBC has to dictate that there has to be a woman on their panel shows, surely the idea is that the guests are funny?
We live in a patriarchy and there is a gender imbalance in a lot of industries. It’s a complicated and sensitive issue, simplifying it to saying they are on TV for their gender not their talent, doesn’t cover what’s being done. There needs to be equal representation in gender and diversity - making a stand for that, is a good thing but it needs to be seen as part of a larger problem, not simplified down into easy headlines. Some would argue I would think that as I benefit from this. But growing up, gender equality in comedy wasn’t the case and that makes certain things hard in ways, that unless you’re a woman in comedy may be hard to relate to or understand why it is now so important to address.
You’re also doing a bit of stage acting in Austentatious: The Improvised Jane Austen Novel, what’s that all about?
I have been doing this wonderful show for seven years and it is one of my favourite things to do. Myself and other comedians, including Rachel Parris, Joseph Morpurgo, Andrew Hunter Murray and others, improvise in the style of Jane Austen, a complete comedy play. We’re in full Regency gear and a violinist accompanies us. It is the most delightful and silly way to spend your time and we are currently performing it monthly at the Savoy Theatre, London.
How genuine is your fear of finding squashed bananas?
It’s genuine. The horrific squelch into a forgotten ghost of a formerly once healthy banana is one of the great worries of the modern woman with a too-large handbag.
You’re on Twitter a fair amount, but the question is, social media… bringing people closer together or destroying civilisation?
Ah, I try not to be, thanks to a brilliant book, ‘How to break up with your phone’ by Catherine Price. Sad to say, I am genuinely addicted to Instagram and it isn’t destroying me but it’s definitely stopping me getting things done. Like watching Queer Eye.
When was the last time you heard a joke or anecdote that was genuinely funny? And where were you?
The last time I did Griefcast. Every episode I always end up bursting out laughing at the strange and bizarre way humans handle death and people who are grieving. Awkward things people say is one of my favourite anecdote categories.
How would you sum up your 2018 so far?
Busy, tiring, incredibly fulfilling.
And what’s coming up for the rest of your year?
More Griefcast, more Austentatious, writing the panto for the Lyric Hammersmith and a million other emails I need to reply back to.
Where’s the weirdest place you’ve gigged?
Queen Victoria’s childhood bedroom.
What other comedian is worth checking out?
There are so many brilliant comedians at the moment, but I am a big fan of Sara Barron who is doing her debut Edinburgh hour this year.
What’s the question we should have asked you today but haven’t?
Which cake would you like us to give to you?
Finally, how do you take your coffee?
By saying, oh no sorry I said, a redbush tea with milk, please.
To choose a Griefcast to listen to head to the Acast site. To find out more about Cariad and what she's up to visit her website, follow her on Twitter, or like her Facebook page.