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Interview with comedian Sara Pascoe

30 April 2015 Laura Stevens

Sara Pascoe caught up with London Calling ahead of her performance of Sara Pascoe vs History at the Udderbelly Festival this May. She spoke about vaginas, orgasms and how she's not got a feminist agenda.

London Calling: Tell me about your latest show for Udderbelly, Sara Pascoe vs History.

Sara Pascoe: It’s a show that I did in Edinburgh Festival last year in August, and I’ve been on tour and just got back from Australia. The show has changed a little bit from when I first started it – it began when I met my boyfriend and I was falling madly in love with him but also feeling very neurotic and worried.

I was like “What am I doing?” and thinking that all of my previous relationships had broken up before. I then was also thinking a lot about how once you get to a certain age there’s so much of your past that you take into your relationships.

You have your exs and you also have whether your parents were happy together and I think that can affect people – whether they’re divorced or still together.

I thought it was really fascinating and then I tried to find a way to put it into the show and not turn it into a lecture!

LC: So would you say a lot of material in the show is feminist?

SP: It’s interesting because I didn’t go out with a feminist agenda. I’m not an activist, I’m a comedian. But what tends to happen is if something is awesome from a female perspective it’s called feminist just because.

If you’re part of what's seen of the subculture, which ugly women are, people interpret it as feminist when actually it’s just more a woman talking about her experience.

LC: Is it hard to be a woman in comedy?

SP: No I don’t think so. I think there was a time when women weren’t made to feel very welcome on the circuit but that doesn’t happen anymore. Or if it does it’s very much frowned upon.

I really hope there is much more women getting into comedy because I think there has been a big shift in what the audiences are consuming and what they want to hear about so that makes the biggest difference.

LC: Have all your experiences led into your book, Animal: How a woman is made, coming out in 2016?

SP: Yes. I realised I had a lot more to say and there were a lot more things I was researching that I couldn’t find a way or didn’t want to put it all into stand up. So I’m writing about how the female body has evolved, and what that has meant culturally and how it is treated. It’s really interesting at the moment I’m doing lots and lots of reading – I’m finding a way to talk about it.

LC: So in all this research, what is the best fact about the female body that you have unearthed?

SP: A study in Paris measured about 140 women and found out that if your clitoris was more than a centimetre away from your vagina you couldn’t have vaginal orgasms. There’s this idea that orgasms through penetrative sex are really important but actually for some women it will never be possible.

LC: As well as being a comedian you’re an actress as well, which do you prefer?

SP: I was an actress first, since I was 18, so that came a long way before comedy. Stand up was an experiment with something I was doing alongside acting, I didn’t have a conscious decision to make that career choice.

LC: So I was very intrigued by your investigation into what questions Siri wouldn’t answer. What was the most bizarre query Siri refused?

SP: So it wasn’t that it wasn’t allowed it more just directed you to an Internet search. There was one where it would tell you where a brothel was but it wouldn’t tell you where to get an abortion. I thought that was really hypocritical and odd. I think it depends on the operating system – you can have a filter and so on.

LC: What’s the best heckle you’ve ever received?

SP: As in the best or the worst?! I don’t know, it really doesn’t happen very often. The first thing is, just because it’s so difficult to come back from, is someone saying you’re s**t.

I’ve been called the c word from a man dressed in a bottle of ketchup. That will stay in my mind always – it was so bizarre.

LC: Do you have a favourite moment from being on QI?

SP: When I first got to go on QI and my Mum came with me it was really like an out of body experience.

It was a real dream come true. I was in the green room after saying “I can't believe this was my life!”

Sara Pascoe vs History is at the Udderbelly Festival May 1-2. For more information click here.

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