Uk News Comedian Liz Kingsman: 'I feel a constant need to say, I'm not arrogant. I'm not a prick' United Kingdom news
PremierLeague-News.Com - The comedian's sell-out show marked her out as one of 2022's brightest stars. As she takes it to the Edinburgh Fringe, she talks about success, self-promotion and sending up messy women
PremierLeague-News.Com - Breaking Sport Transfer News ! Liz Kingsman has a problem. “I can’t crack a joke with my friends now without them being like, ‘Ooh, funniest woman in Britain,’” she says with a nervous laugh. This is, I’m afraid, what you get when your debut show becomes the hottest ticket in London and marks you out as one of 2022’s most promising stars. In January, the comic’s sensational One-Woman Show was a sold-out must-see that earned a slew of five-star reviews, with one newspaper urging readers to “do everything legal you can to get a ticket”. And they did. Audiences flocked to London’s Soho Theatre to see her blistering but delightfully silly send-up of the messy woman trope that has taken over culture in the past decade or so. Think of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag or Lena Dunham’s Girls – or even Frances in the BBC’s recent adaptation of Sally Rooney’s Conversations With Friends. Stories about women’s lives are currently dominated by the sort of chaotic, self-destructive antiheroine who is, as Kingsman puts it in her show, “stumbling through her twenties in a fiercely honest, darkly funny way”.The premise grew from Kingsman – who is at some unspecified point in her mid-thirties (“I need to let the casting directors decide how old they think I am”) – not identifying with messy women herself. When we meet for a coffee on London’s South Bank, I understand what she means. Wearing a neat navy dress and quick to point out that the tattoos on her arms are for a job, not her own – “They make me look 6,000 times cooler than I actually am” – she is deadpan, precise and very pulled together. She has the eye for absurdity that animates her comedy: her conversation is peppered with gleeful tales of colourful characters, from the cockapoo sitter who calls herself “Aunt Julie”, to the temping colleague who “did this little flourish” and mimed a dancing woman emoji when discovering Kingsman was a performer (“I think about that all the time,” she beams). Liz Kingsman performing One-Woman Show (Photo: Soho Theatre)But she is far from the oversharing, proudly flawed character she parodies. “I’m not good at being hilariously relatable – it’s not where I sit comfortably,” she says. “I just bury my mistakes. No one knows about them because I don’t tell anyone. I have an incredibly low embarrassment threshold.” How did this fiercely private high-achiever fare under the scrutiny of a sell-out show, then? “My fantasy version would have been I had a nice time and I didn’t cry every day,” she says drily. “There was such a big discord between what I thought would happen and what was happening.” One-Woman Show is a performance within a performance. Kingsman appears as a warped version of herself – an egotistical hack who decides to ape a Fleabag-style narrative in order to get her big break. Soon, we’re watching our protagonist perform Wildfowl, a raucous, relentless parody that on one level operates as a kind of messy woman bingo. Our narrator is sexually candid, has no name (none of these characters do) and revels in how women “don’t have to be likeable any more”. It’s at once gloriously daft and a sharply intelligent critique of how a once-liberating narrative has become its own kind of prison. “It’s such an amazing moment in terms of what’s getting made,” says Kingsman. “There are loads of women who are in decision-making seats. So we should have a variety of stories being told. When you get one story, repeating itself in many different ways, that’s when I was like, is this a thing?” Kingsman is finally taking the show to the Edinburgh Fringe this summer, where it was meant to debut in 2020 before Covid interviewed. Naturally, it definitely won’t be the only one-woman offering there. “It’s almost immersive – it’s going to its spiritual home,” she smirks. The show is more complicated than a straight-up parody, with Kingsman’s character seemingly breaking the fourth wall towards the end and berating herself for mocking her peers. “It’s so mean,” she frets.“Everything I say in that bit is true – I worried about hurting people’s feelings,” she tells me, but “the actual target is the landscape, not the women who are creating the work”. One-Woman Show parodies the way messy women stories have taken over in recent years, such as Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag (Photo: BBC/Two Brothers/Luke Varley)Besides, Kingsman understands the urge to create your own roles, especially when parts for women starting out can be laughably two-dimensional. “When you read interviews with proper big actors and they talk about how they turn down all these wife and girlfriend roles, I think: ‘That’s lovely, but that is so far away from the experience of many jobbing actors,’” she says. “You don’t often get a lot of choice.” Kingsman was born in London but grew up in Sydney. She always wanted to act, though outwardly expressed an ambition to be a director. “I wanted to be an actor in my heart, but I thought it sounded deluded.” After finishing school, she left Australia to study English at Durham University. “I told all my friends that I was going to go and work in comedy in the UK. I didn’t know what I meant by comedy. In my head, it was directing but also acting. I thought if I went to another country, it wouldn’t be so crazy for me to attempt doing it. I could go and be a new person.” She was homesick at Durham, where she mostly dropped her Australian accent. “I’ve got this Durham posh student accent that is just not me,” she says, though to my ears at least she retains a slight Aussie twang. But there were positives, too: she joined the university revue and met comedians Stevie Martin and Tessa Coates, with whom she’d go on to form the sketch trio Massive Dad.
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.” Today, she spends her time toggling between comedy and straighter parts – she loves her long-running English-speaking role, for instance, in the French TV comedy Parlement, about the European Parliament: “What I like to do is work really hard at things that then people can’t see!” She still feels squeamish, though, about calling herself an actor. “It’s the only job where if you say you’re employed, that’s considered boasting,” she says. Liz Kingsman has an old-fashioned horror of self-promotion (Photo: Will Bremridge)Kingsman’s fellow millennials may brag about their side hustles on social media, but she has an old-fashioned horror of self-promotion. “I have a very difficult relationship with social media,” she says as she talks about sharing One-Woman Show’s glowing reviews. “I feel that constant need to be like, ‘I’m not arrogant. I’m not a prick.’“Narcissism is rewarded now,” she continues. “I would put something up and think, ‘I feel really weird posting this stuff.’ And people would just say, ‘Don’t feel weird! Do it. It’s amazing!’” She often feels, she says, “outside the narrative”, from being an “early adopter” of anti-Covid measures to, yes, messy woman clichés. “One of the tropes is a female best friend. I don’t have a female best friend. I didn’t relate to having that sort of intense friendship with somebody who wasn’t a boyfriend.” Similarly, she spent her twenties not on dishevelled nights out but working. “I was a receptionist in the day, writing comedy or gigging in the evenings. I basically missed everyone’s birthdays. Never had any fun. Fun only came if it was a little treat for having done a good job or a good gig. I can never relax. Hedonism is not my strong point.” And instead of having a complicated love life, she has been in a relationship with her film director boyfriend for the past nine years. During the pandemic, the couple – along with their dog Emmett – swapped their London flat for “a ridiculous thatched cottage” in Dorset, though they are now moving back. “As soon as work started picking up, it became really hard.” Related StoriesCatherine Cohen: "I feel most myself when I'm singing a little silly song"08 March, 2022It has also been tricky wrapping her head around the response to the show, especially because in a lot of cases “the irony is ridiculous”. One-Woman Show mocks society’s tendency to obsessively hype one woman while flatly ignoring her peers. Inevitably, though, Kingsman’s press featured headlines such as: “The new queen of comedy” and “Is this the funniest woman in Britain?” (which, as mentioned, her mates haven’t let her live down). “If it had been written in a sitcom, you’d think, ‘That’s too on the nose,’” she says. “I guess it’s just the way it works. But it’s interesting that it made one of my own points for me.” In response to one review, Kingsman tweeted that it meant “a lot to me to have a female critic from the broadsheets in”. She was happy, she says, because so far most of the coverage had been by men. “I didn’t want it to appear as if the narrative was: finally, we haven’t been able to say this, but she’s allowed to say it because she’s a woman.” In short, she didn’t want it to come across as misogynistic. “It’s not like I’ve written a show for men to enjoy about women.” Along with preparing for Edinburgh, Kingsman is slowly devising new material, writing between filming breaks of the Apple TV drama she has had a small part in this year. “I’m glacially slow,” she cackles. What are her post-Fringe plans? “I am going to hopefully do the third season of Parlement. And I would love to take the show to Sydney.” The show would have surely won a comedy award at 2020’s Edinburgh had it gone ahead, though Kingsman laughs slightly deliriously when I mention this. “Sure, sure,” she mutters. She is at pains to stress that One-Woman Show hasn’t exactly changed her life into a fairy tale overnight. “I’ve had really nice writing opportunities come from it,” she says. “But it’s not like I’m going to the Oscars.” Still, what about the show moving to television? After all, stories like Fleabag and Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You began on stage. “It would be very ironic, but I’m not averse to irony, as you may have realised,” she says. Then she adds: “I get a nosebleed thinking about it, basically. But that’s how I like to choose my work.” ‘One-Woman Show’ is at Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, from 16-28 August (0131 228 1404)
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