"Autism is a positive boon for a comedian" Idle chit-chat with Bethany Black
Hey Bethany, how are you?
I’ve been at the Fringe for a week, so I’m feeling like Tom Hanks after the initial beach attack in Saving Private Ryan. The most terrifying bit is over and now it’s just the long hard slog to try and rescue Matt Damon so we can all go home.
What have you been up to today?
It’s noon so I’m just out of the flat and walking down from Merchiston on my way to watch Rik Caranza’s show at 1pm. I just treated myself to a Greggs.
And where are you right now?
Just outside the King’s Theatre heading towards Toll Cross.
Right, first things first, how the hell is your Fringe going so far?
The show’s going great, the battle in my head, not so much, turns out doing a show about not liking leaving the house in the world’s biggest arts festival may have been an error.
Tell us what you can about ‘Unwinnable’ in two sentences?
'Unwinnable' is my answer to the question “why do you do Stand-up comedy?” I was terrified of the world before it became obviously terrifying, and 'Unwinnable' is about overcoming that, even when the odds are stacked against you.
So, I can’t find a bio for you online anywhere - except IMDB and I trust that less than Wikipedia - so, in the form of a haiku, tell us about Bethany Black.
Teller of stories
Both true and funny of course
Outside of the norm
How would you describe your comedy style?
Rambling, distracted storytelling, but not above a few proper jokes
You’ve done a bunch of telly, what was Doctor Who like?
He was lovely. There, that’ll annoy the fans. At the readthrough Peter introduced himself “Hi, I’m Peter Capaldi and I’ll be playing Doctor Who” it was a wonderful experience, very tiring and the security around spoilers and leaks was incredible! My character had a full face tattoo so I wasn’t allowed to go and sit in the BBC canteen in case any Casualty Extras took photos.
And does everyone ask you about Doctor Who?
Yes, but, that along with Cucumber Banana Tofu are absolute career highlights. I’ve been very lucky to have the skills to not ruin opportunities I’ve been presented with.
How was the new Mission Impossible film? [Ed - Bethany watched it last week, we can't find the tweet now, she's prolific...]
It was fun. Tom Cruise Running for two hours. You can have a nap in the middle and miss the car chase like I did and still not get lost. I appear to be watching films in the style of my dad now.
I saw you retweet Neville Southall, how amazing is it to see someone put Twitter to genuinely good use?
He’s wonderful, totally makes up for losing Graham Linehan, I’ve now rewritten my reality so Nev wrote Father Ted and Black Books. Linehan can keep The IT Crowd though.
From your press blurb your show is partly about your diagnosis with autism and agoraphobia, which of those is harder for a comedian to deal with?
Agoraphobia definitely. Very few gigs take place in my house, so I do have to travel quite a lot, whereas Autism is a positive boon for a comedian, in my assessment they asked “Do you prefer to be part of a group or talking to a group?” Then “Do you often find you say things people find shocking or upsetting and you don’t know why?” Followed with “do you like to repeat phrases over and over?” Which could be a job interview for being a comedian.
And how do you cope with that doing a month in Edinburgh?
So far? Badly. Having to be out of the house every day in busy places with lots of people who are behaving unpredictably is absolutely terrifying. But I’m getting to the pictures to watch films and making sure I go to my friends’ houses as often as possible.
What makes you laugh most in life?
My partner. She is the funniest human being I’ve ever met, though she’s got a wicked sense of humour, like all Scandinavians she likes dark humour and slapstick.
Tell us something stupid.
In five years living in my house, I’ve only remembered to take a towel into the shower on three occasions.
Tell us a charity we should support. And why.
Mermaids, it’s a charity helping young trans folk and their families, they are constantly vilified in the press and harassed by groups who are fundamentally opposed to the existence of trans people. They do great work and I for one probably wouldn’t be here without them.
When was the last time you were starstruck?
A week last Saturday when I met Ed Miliband. I don’t normally get star struck any more and fortunately during my career I’ve met loads of people who are my heroes. But Ed just made the world feel calm, the exact opposite of the Chaos we were told would happen if he became PM.
What other comedians are worth checking out?
Laura Lexx, Rik Caranza and everyone at The Stand. The Stand has a spectacular line up but is in the New Town so people seem to be being a bit lazy and sticking to the Royal Mile and Old Town. But go and see Mary Bourke, and Ramon Rivas, and Gavin Webster because you won’t regret it.
What’s the question we should have asked you today but haven’t?
Why do you do stand-up comedy? (Pathological need to be liked coupled with an inability to enjoy things)
Finally, how do you take your coffee?
White, no sugar. Strong brewed but with a lot of milk.
You can catch Bethany's show, 'Unwinnable', every day at The Stand Comedy Club 2 at 3:50pm. Tickets are still available.
To find out more about Bethany, follow her on Twitter, or support her on Patreon.