Bec Hill is an Australian stand-up comedian living in London. Described as “One of the funniest comedians on Twitter” by Time Out magazine and “Quirky flip chart animations and wordplay” by Beyond The Joke. I interviewed her recently, here is that interview…
You’ve recently returned from touring your excellent “Bec Hill In… Ellipsis” show at the Adelaide Fringe in Australia. How was that?
It was fun, but also quite scary. I’ve come to know what to expect from UK audiences – especially when it comes to Edinburgh Fringe – and it’d been four years since I last performed a show at the Adelaide Fringe. There was a lot of pressure to do well, as many of my friends and family had seen all the good publicity which came from Ellipsis’ Ed Fringe run and were expecting something quite special. I think I fulfilled most of their expectations, but I’m also aware that there were a few people who were seeing me because they know me, and not because they like my sense of humour. So for them, I think they found it a little… strange.
Oh, that sounds tense! In gigs where your family and friends is in the audience, do comedians ever look at them? Or try to focus on other people in the crowd?
I think I’ll always try to avoid looking at people I know to an extent. I mean, it’s important to make eye-contact and often making eye-contact is a way of reassuring them, “Hey, I’ve got this. Look, I’m even happy to look you in the eye…” But it can be a bit nerve-racking. My parents are probably the least of my worries, though. They’re the most supportive people ever. I think I worry more about making eye-contact with old friends or work colleagues – people who have decided to check out what it is you do. Because you never know if they’re actually going to enjoy it or not because they’re not there based on their love of comedy, or adventurous nature.
That’s really interesting. Although I bet they enjoyed you as your stand-up has a lot of variety. You do amazing paper-puppetry, puns, stories, clowning, audience interaction and even gigs for kids. What do you enjoy doing most?
The variety does help. Even if I’m not their perfect cup of tea, there’s still enough diversity for them to go, “Well, it’s not the best cup, but at least the temperature is right”. Or, “At least is has the ideal amount of sugar.” I get bored very quickly and easily, so I don’t have a favourite style, as such. I often find if I do too much of one and not enough of the other, that I get restless. That said, it’s always tempting to drop all the props, tech, etc and just do some straight stand-up. It would certainly make travelling easier. But so often, when I’ve done straight stand-up sets, I’ve found myself thinking, “I wish I could show them that bit on the flipchart. I think they would like that.”
Always! I have 3 projects I would like to make soon. It’s just a case of finding the time and working out which one to make first. I’m still not 100% happy with the last one I made. It needs work.
Lots of sticky tape…
Haha yeah, sticky tape, scalpel, sharpie and crayons. Lots and lots.
Reminds me of Art Attack! Speaking of Art Attack… I’ve read you’re a big Neil Buchanan fan. Did you know he’s been in a heavy metal band called “Marseille” since 1976? And, if you were offered the Art Attack job – would you take it?
Meeting Neil Buchanan is on my bucket list. I heard about the band, but I’ve never listened to it. Maybe that means I’m not a real fan haha. I wish he’d let his musical past influence his art more. “And now we’re going to create a papier-mâché bat, with removable head…” Of course I would take it! I can’t think of a better dream job. All I want in life is to make a big-scale piece, look up at the sky and yell, “THIS IS…. ART ATTACK!”
Haha, I would watch the shit out of that show if you were hosting it. Ok, you’ve announced your new show for this year’s Ed Fringe; “Caught on Tape”. It’s got a sweet poster (Your posters are always so cool! I’ve got “Bec by Popular Demand” & “In… Ellipsis” posters on my wall!) and I’ve already bought tickets… Can you tell me a wee bit about it?
Caught On Tape is about regret. I’ve only really got one regret in life, but it also made me wonder what else other people regret, so I asked around and got some really interesting answers. So the show will be, in part, me trying to deal with my one regret in life and the rest will be looking at the regrets of others. The tricky part will be making it funny, because it can be such a harrowing concept. But I like a challenge.
Sounds good! What’s your favourite joke of yours that never gets much of a laugh?
Ooh! That’s a good question. There certainly have been quite a few over the years. I’ve always liked the joke, “There’s a name for people like you… Doppleganger.” But it just doesn’t work. I’m sure it’s my delivery. But I’m afraid if I keep trying it, I’m just going to prove that “Definition of insanity” quote (which was not originally said by Einstein, for those little fact lovers).
I do like a fact. You bought any sweet new jumpers recently?
I was given a nice one by your former interviewee, Abigoliah, for Christmas. She has a matching orange one and we accidentally wore them both the other day, so when we went for coffee, we looked like an adorable couple.
Aw, what a nice lady. Abigoliah was also on your very funny podcast. You and comedian/writer Brydie-Lee Kennedy created the hilarious Gods of Comedy podcast, where you chat with fellow comedians about religion and pretty much everything else. I think I’ve listened to every episode twice… How did the podcast start?
When Brydie and I became friends, we quickly bonded over the fact that we both believe in God and Jesus. She had the idea to start a podcast inviting other comics to talk about their faith – whatever it may be. The best thing about it, is that it’s encouraged a lot of discussion many of us would often be too sensitive to engage in. I’ve been surprised by the amount of comics who have a form of belief system. I’d assumed most of them were Atheist, but it seems that in the comedy world, it’s the Atheists who make the most amount of noise, so many of us hold this incorrect perception. I should also say that the show has changed my perception of Atheists. I was, ironically, scared of being judged by them, but it turns out I was making assumptions in the same way some people make assumptions about people with faith. It’s been a real eye-opener.
I enjoy doing the show because it’s really simple. We ask people to tell us what they believe in. So often, in the real world, we only talk about what we believe in when we’re challenged. Perhaps we feel attacked, or we have an opinion on something which affects what we believe in. It means that all to often, it’s more of a reaction than a discussion. But on the show, we ask people to tell us what they believe not in order to give us an opinion or to defend themselves, but purely to give them a platform. Our questions are usually innocent, or curious. It’s not a place of attack or conversion, but a safe place to be honest about who we are and what we have come to understand.
Wow, that’s a great answer. Few more to go. You talked about your faith in your “Bec Hill In… Ellipsis” show for the first time. Do you feel more comfortable talking about that now that you have the Gods of Comedy platform?
Definitely. Gods of Comedy has played a huge role in my faith. It made me realise the areas in which my faith is lacking, or I don’t have the knowledge I would like to give informed answers or ask wise questions. It forced me to work on my relationship with God more, and in doing so, I became more confident to talk about it. And not just the good bits about faith. I like to be honest about the doubts. If the Christian faith is meant to be about a relationship with God, then I need to treat it more like an actual relationship. I love my fiancé very much, but if I were to go around shouting about how great he is, constantly, people would get annoyed and probably wonder if I was trying to compensate for something. Sometimes my fiancé annoys me. Sometimes I annoy him. That’s how relationships work. And the same goes for God. If people can talk about their marriages in comedy and make it funny, then I think I can talk about my relationship with God. The key is to remaining respectful. If I wouldn’t make a joke if it were my fiancé, I wouldn’t make a joke if it were God – considering He’s at every gig and all.
Yeah, that’s great that the podcast has positively influenced you so much. Right, question from fellow stand-up comedian Lou Sanders: “What’s your favourite pun from all your Pun Run shows?” Her episode on Gods of Comedy is my favourite, by the way!
Ooohh!! Of mine, or someone else’s? Of mine, I guess it’s probably, “My friend’s pet ostrich died recently and she had to have it cremated. I said, ‘I’m so sorry. That must have been a massive bird-urn.'” The lovely thing about that, is that when it’s said aloud, there’s always a moment while people get it, but when they do, they’re so proud of themselves that they laugh extra loud. It’s really nice.
Haha, that’s a good joke. You’ve been described as one of the “Top funniest comedians on Twitter” by me and actual media outlets like Time Out. Recently, you had some amazing horse puns. How many of your tweets make it into your live shows?
Very few! I actually started Pun Run with the sole intention of giving myself an outlet for them all. Ellipsis was the first show where I did a proper pun set.
Aw, I didn’t know that. Cool. Right, last question! You were in a cute short film in 2014 called “Russian Roulette” (video below!) that won the Sundance London Competition award and featured at the Sundance Film Festival 2015. How did you get involved in that?
I think it went well! The Director, Ben Aston, emailed me out of the blue. He’d done some stuff with Tom Rosenthal and had asked him if he could recommend any foreign female comics who might want to be in a film about the loneliness of moving to London. Tom and I happened to have done a gig together the week before, so I was fresh in his mind and he suggested me. I read the script and liked it and met with Ben briefly before the filming and he was such a delight that I couldn’t say no. It was just a day where I had nothing else booked and was offered oven pizza, which is enough for me.
Hahaha, what kind of pizza was it? You were really good in it.
I suspect it was a meat lovers. But between you and me, I’m a Hawaiian girl, myself. Love me a bit of pineapple. And thank you!