Abigoliah Schamaun is an American stand-up comedian living in London. Described as “Revealingly personal and, crucially, very funny” by The Sunday Herald and “Looks for jokes in places where Frankie Boyle fears to tread” by The Skinny. I interviewed her recently. Here is that interview…
First of all, you went to see Fifty Shades of Grey today. You were live tweeting watching it, which was hilarious; but I missed the conclusion. What did you think of the movie?
I didn’t really write a formal conclusion. BUT, it’s better than the book (which is a rare thing to say about a movie). Overall, here’s the thing, two people who have VERY different thoughts on sex and intimacy want to be together, and instead of looking at the situation and saying they don’t suit each other they go for it… but it’s bad. One: that’s not how kink works. A submissive isn’t supposed to do things IN SACRIFICE of their on belief system. Two, if you decide to go for it, as Ana does in the last scene, then play by the rules. The character is told if something makes her uncomfortable to say the safe word… clearly she is pushed FAR past her limits. And doesn’t say a word then calls him a freak after… that just bad communication in a relationship.
Nice summary. Your material is very autobiographical, you share a lot on stage. Is performing quite therapeutic for you?
Maybe it’s more cathartic than therapeutic… I don’t except the audience to teach me anything at the end… I don’t want something out of them other than to laugh and be entertained.
I saw your show “It’s Pronounced Abigoliah Schamaun” at the 2014 Ed Fringe (Full show below!). It was very funny and emotional too. You spoke about sex, life and your parents. Is that your best show so far?
Well, I always think my most recent show is my best show… So yes. I’m pretty proud of it. I’ve talked mostly about my sex life on-stage. This was the first time I talked so much about my childhood, and also showed pictures.
Aw, some of the pictures are brilliant (time stamp at 6:50 above). I like how you referenced performing in a castle wearing tutu in the show.
Thanks… I mostly did that because I was performing in a castle in a tutu… That joke doesn’t play well when I’m in a comedy club basement wearing jeans.
That’s true, there should be more castle-based comedy venues in the UK. Are you playing the Fringe this year?
Yes. I’ll be back at the Gilded Balloon with my new hour “Post-Coital Confessions“. I’m also going to do a children’s show on the Free Fringe called “Abigoliah’s Go-Pro Comedy Talk Show” where I wear a GoPro on my head the whole time.
Haha, that’s a good name. I’ll definitely come see the Post-Coital Confessions show. Your posters always look cool, who does them?
In 2014, you moved from New York to London. Has the move to a new continent changed the way you write your material?
No, I pretty much write the same way… It’s all autobiographical.
What’s your favourite joke of yours that doesn’t get much of a laugh?
Oh, good question. It’s a new one, so I don’t want to say it yet… I’m still trying to make it funnier. Maybe the story of the guy finding me on Tinder then coming to my work with a cake and asking me out… I never do that in clubs. It’s not funny enough.
Oh yeah, I remember that story. That was odd. Usually at your gigs you ask the audience how they heard about the show. I guess it’s difficult to know why people come to your show unless they specifically tell you. What’s the most common response from new people?
Exactly! Yes, that’s why I ask. I want to know what’s working and what’s not. Online, I think.
Good. To be honest a lot of it was over my head. I think I was a bit young… And that was when he was REALLY dark, so my bright eyed 16-year old self couldn’t comprehend some of it. But I knew I was watching a legend. My parents were surprised by how dark he had gotten. I think they still expected him to tell jokes like “The Hippy Dippy Weather Man” and “Baseball and Football“.
Yeah he definitely got darker as he got older, but I think most people preferred his darker stuff. Well, I say most people when really I mean “me” ha.
I don’t know about “most people”. I think comedy nerds do, and people our age do, because that what was coming out when we were getting into comedy. I think older people prefer older Carlin. Hippy Dippy Weather Man and Baseball and Football, that is my parents generation of Carlin… It’s cool how one guy has spanned so many generations. You don’t see that in comedy so much… A little with music, but he might be the only one to keep writing new stuff for new generations over such a long time.
That’s true, and he had the record number of HBO Specials. You perform ‘sideshow’ on stage as well as stand-up, such as eat light bulbs on stage, most recently at Mark Watson’s 27-Hour Comedy Marathon for Red Nose Day. How was that show?
SO MUCH FUN. I didn’t really know anything about it when I signed up. But what a treat. Next time I’d like to be way more involved. I watched the live stream at home for the last bit of it, with a friend of mine. When I explained it to him he summed it up as “Something that might happen in an asylum or at art school”.
Haha, that’s a box quote right there!
What’s the most efficient wattage of light bulb for comedy? I like the 60W myself, but I’m quite traditional.
The regular old incandescent light bulbs are the best to eat because the glass is thin and it causes less damage on your teeth. But energy saver light bulbs are more and more popular, thicker too. The change in light bulb technology is slowly making glass eating a less practised thing.
That might be the best sentence I’ve ever read. You can eat fire too. Does it hurt?
Umm, sometimes I burn my mouth… It’s like burning the roof of your mouth on pizza. But mostly it’s fine.
Ouch. You taught Bikram Yoga in New York and now you’ve started teaching it in London. Does that help take your mind off performing stand-up?
No. It’s still public speaking. Practising takes my mind off of stand up. I guess teaching too does because when you teach you’re only thinking about teaching, but I don’t do it as a “release” I do it because I like teaching yoga.
Nice one. You’ve recently started a new podcast called “Namaste Bitches” – can you tell me more about that?
Namaste Bitches is supposed to be a wellness podcast, where I talk to fitness professionals, comics, and anyone with an opinion on how to live their best life. From vegan-yoga teachers to people whose philosophy is to live hard and drink till you die. No dogma, no agenda. I just want to know how you make your life the best… Yeah, I should’ve stayed home and edited more episodes. I’m completely behind on the project and I’m sorry. I promise to work harder… Starting tomorrow.