"We've lost the art of human conversation but we do have that video of a squirrel putting a nut in a dog so, you know, swings and roundabouts." Idle chit-chat with Tessa Coates

With a new show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this year, Tessa Coates sat down and answered our questions. Knowing she's very clever (as well as funny) we touched on such heavyweight topics as podcasts, Twitter, and coffee. Oh, and obviously her shows 'Primates' and 'Witch Hunt'.

Hey Tessa, how the devil are you?

I'm ever so well thank you so much for asking, how the devil are you?

What have you been up to today?

Getting burnt in the garden, teaching myself that Cups song from Pitch Perfect, blithely ignoring writing my Edinburgh show

Describe your comedy style.

Chatty? Chatty with some cold hard science.

Tell us what you can about your show for the Fringe, 'Witch Hunt', in two sentences?

It's about men and women and how we treat each other, and evolution and language and fear. I wanted to put a magic trick in but I got over-excited every time I performed it and kept giving away how it was done, so that had to go.

You’re off there soon, how many times have you been, and what’s your best memory?

I've been maybe seven times as a performer - three years as a student, two and half years with Massive Dad and once by myself. It's impossible not to love (and also hate. If you haven't had one good cry then you're not doing the fringe right). I came up as a teenager on the overnight Megabus for the weekend with my school friend, when we had absolutely no idea what we were doing and stayed basically in Leith. We went to see a student production of Dracula TWICE at C Venues because we fancied Dracula so much.  

What do you do when you’re up at the Fringe?

My show is on nice and early (3.30pm in Pleasance This) so I'm drunk and eating a potato by 4.45, all calm and done for the day. Then I'll be seeing as many shows as I can. But I also try and look after myself like a boring old square. I was going to confidently say 'I run', but really all I do is put my running gear on and then go and sit down on a bench.

And what about 'Primates', which you’re touring now.

I've just got back from taking 'Primates' to LA, where I've had the absolute time of my life. There were a couple of things they didn't understand like Enid Blyton and the Kray Twins and Brown Owl, and they do NHAT want to hear any jokes about the President, but they really liked the show. That one is more about love and heartbreak and self-esteem and it's grown with me over the last year and I'm super proud of it. 'Witch Hunt' is like my new puppy that keeps wetting itself, and 'Primates' is my professional show dog who really knows his stuff.

Anthropology* always sounds fascinating, is it?

Oh yes. But it throws up more questions than it answers. It makes you think about yourself in a different way, but it can be infuriating like an unsolved mystery.

If you could choose, what would you actually want to be known for?

My relentless philanthropy and my vast wealth.

What can you tell us about your podcast, Nobody Panic?

It's the podcast me and Stevie (who you can find doing Stevie Martin: Vol 1 over in the Pleasance Below) make by ourselves after the Debrief went under. We'd been making the Debrief Podcast for about a year and then we've had to go solo. It's a real joy to do, each episode is a how to - how to get over a broken heart, how to ask for a pay rise, how to move to a new city, how to do your laundry - it's basically how to be a grown-up, and we have experts on and I always, always learn something.

And why do you reckon that podcasts have had a bit of a comeback?

A comeback? I don't think they've been here long enough to go away and come back, I think they're just on the rise. They're cheap, anyone can make them and they really level the playing field. You could stick one out this afternoon if you wanted. And no one can see your downloads, unlike your views on YouTube for example, so people can just make things they like for their own sake.

I think what the popularity of podcast tells us is that we want to hear stories, we want companions with us on trains, and that we love to listen and learn. We form real attachments to podcasts because often we listen in our most lonely moments and those voices become our friends. It's something so personal and yet so distant, and you can't capture that with video.

Comedy panel shows are all over the telly, what’s your dream job on the box?

That they let me make one of those travel shows like Joanna Lumley’s India, and I just travel the world making quips and eating.

You’re on Twitter a fair amount, but the question is, social media… bringing people closer together or destroying civilisation?

Both. Both in equal measures. We've lost the art of human conversation but we do have that video of a squirrel putting a nut in a dog so, you know, swings and roundabouts.

Your press release says you’re “like a modern day Spice Girl”, were the Spice Girls all that?

Are you joking? Did a boy write these questions?

Where’s the weirdest place you’ve gigged?

In a corridor, in a cupboard, in a living room, at a charity ball during dessert with no microphones doing sketches that could be neither seen nor heard. Sometimes I wake up in the night thinking about that one.

What other comedian is worth checking out?

Oh everyone is wonderful - Amusical will be a real treat for the heart, and Max and Ivan are doing some kind of interactive Prom which I'll be first in line for.

Finally, how do you take your coffee?

True story, and one of the most disappointing facts about me, I don't like coffee. Hate the smell.

Thanks so much for your time Tessa. Enjoy your live shows.

You are so welcome you lovely polite boy.

* {Context: Tessa studied anthropology at University. And got a degree.]

Tessa is performing Witch Hunt at Pleasance Courtyard (Pleasance This) from 1st August – 26th August, 15:30. Tickets available now.

You can see what Tessa's up to on Twitter. She also has a website.

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