EDINBURGH FESTIVAL 2009: BWW Interviews Comedian And Compere Kate Smurthwaite

When was your first Edinburgh Festival?

I first came to the fest in 2004. I'd only been doing stand-up for about three months at the time but I was desperate to be part of the fest so I just begged everyone I knew for spots and eventually I was given two spots. I'm sure I wasn't brilliant but I don't think I stank either because the following year the same production that gave me the spots asked me to come back and host their whole show for the whole festival. In order to do so I actually had to quit my day job but I was itching to do that anyway so I didn't think twice.

What shows are you involved with this time round?

Firstly there's my new solo show The News At Kate. It's about what's wrong with politics in this country and what's wrong with the way the media covers the news. There's a lot of fairly dark satirical humour in it and a lot of my soul too. I'm almost a little let down at the end when the audience clap and then start filing out. A little bit of me is disappointed that I've failed to engender revolution.

Then I host The Comedy Manifesto which is a political panel show. I also write the questions so it does keep me busy during the day too making sure it's always topical. And I also host The Midnight Hour which is just a regular late-night stand up show with lots of big names from around the fringe. The acts are being booked by the guy who runs Soho Comedy Club in London so the line-ups are amazing and all I have to do is compere.

You're compering - how does that compare (no pun intended) to doing stand-up?

I am the only person in the world who thinks this but I think compering is easier than stand-up. Of course there's a big overlap but I like audiences and I like to chatting to people and winding them up and getting an atmosphere going. Outside of Edinburgh I compere as much as five or six night a week, it's really my bread and butter and I teach compering too so clearly some people think I'm pretty good at it.

Which shows do you intend to see?

None. Really - I just don't have time and seeing other people's shows just makes me worry about my own. Should I be doing that? How are they getting this much audience? Is that a text message from my flyerers? If a magic fairy came down and gave me a free ticket and an hour off I'd probably wish to go see Topping and Butch but they've probably sold out in about February so it's not much use as a recommendation.

Who are your top comedy tips for the next twelve months?

I guess you mean in terms of fame. I don't think fame really correlates to talent very much in this industry; I mean, to be famous you have to be at least ok as an act and have the right look. So the next big stars I predict will be about four impossibly young guys with tufty hair and retro sports wear and a girl with messy hair and a ra-ra skirt who rarely makes eye contact or smiles. Most of their material will be written by someone else - me, if I'm lucky, cos I could use the work.

On the other hand if you're sat home scrolling through the lists of comedy acts coming to your local venue throughout the year who should you go see? John Gordillo and Dave Ward. And me.

Kate Smurthwaite appears in The News At Kate at the Voodoo Rooms, Venue 68, 8.25pm (free). She is compering the Comedy Manifesto at the Beehive Inn at 4pm (free), and Midnight Hour at Canon's Gait (free). She blogs at CruellaBlog and TheNewsAtKate.


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