Danielle Walker: My family can see the crazy in other people, just not in ourselves

Fringe Debuts!

Welcome to our Fringe Debuts series, where comedians taking their first show to Edinburgh Fringe will give you a little taster of what to expect, an insight into their world, or really super weird musings on something equally bizarre — to be honest, we just let them run with it. If you’re readying yourself for a giant lol injection in August, now’s your chance to find something NEW to add to your list.

Danielle Walker is performing Nostalgia, a show about family, memory and legacy. Here she talks about remembering people for their strangeness, and realising her parents could be idiots too.

I’ve never really lost anyone close to me, to death that is. I’ve lost them other ways ie. distance, drifting apart, you know, the usual ways.

I have a theory that the things you remember about people when they die, are usually the strange things they did, because they stand out. I knew a very normal woman, too normal, strangely normal. But the two things I hear the most about her when people are reminiscing, are how for some reason she got garlic and gravox (the gravy powder) confused, so she would cook ‘Garlic prawns’ by stewing prawns in gravy. And she liked corner dolls, those faceless dolls you put in the corner of a room so you don’t have an empty corner I guess? I think they’re supposed to be naughty children? Who knows maybe she had them for Feng Shui. All I know is they were creepy as shit.

Imagine, you tried so hard your whole life to blend in and be normal, that when you die the thing that lives on about you is your absolute abomination of a seafood dish, and your creepy homewares. If you spend your life trying to blend in, the only things people remember are when you accidentally come loose at the seams and those little idiosyncrasies spill out, and nobody ever really knows you.

It’s that stuff I love. Those moments of absurdity even the most mundane people have.

Luckily for me the people I love most in the world, my family, have never tried to blend in. They’re not those people saying stuff like ‘I’m just a bit of a kooky oddball, embrace it’. Everyone in my family goes through life thinking everyone else is insane and they’re the only logical, reasonable person in existence. We all think like this, it’s our family trait, none of us know when we’re being insane until we’re telling a story and someone else points it out to us. We can all see the crazy in other people, just not in ourselves.

For example:

When I was little my Grandad taught me how to play darts. Grandad's dart board was mounted on his shed wall. The walls were made from corrugated iron, so if a dart missed the board and hit the wall, it sounded like a rifle going off. That sound always made me jump but never bothered my Grandad — he has extreme tinnitus in both ears from shooting guns. Worse was that my Grandad's shed had power connected. The wiring was done around the dart board and was exposed so there was also the added fear of hitting a power cord. If I did hit a live wire I got in big trouble. At no point was the possibility of moving the dart board to somewhere less intense ever entertained by Grandad. Pressure creates diamonds I guess?

My dogs used to drink out of a water feature my mum made. Once, some cane toads got in it. I don’t know how much people in the UK know about cane toads, so FYI they excrete venom that kills almost anything if ingested, including dogs and humans. My dad and Mum were emptying out the water feature by siphoning the poison water out with their MOUTHS!! I was probably about 12 and saw this and asked them why they weren’t using the water pump from the water feature to pump it out. That was the moment I realised my parents could be idiots too. I talked to mum about it recently and I said ‘I can’t believe you were sucking up poison water!’ then she said in a very hoity toity voice ‘Oh I never sucked up any of the poison water, I knew not to, it was just your father’ and rolled her eyes. I guess alluding to the fact she was maybe going to let him poison himself? They’re separated now.

Like I said, I’ve never lost anyone close to me, but during the last few years I couldn’t get home to the people I love and my Nanna kept reminding me via text message that she will die at some point. My show goes through the process of me trying to record my family's stories and capture them exactly as they are so I always have those anchors.

Danielle Walker: Nostalgia runs from 3-28th Aug, 3:35pm, at the Assembly. Tickets here

Danielle is on Twitter at @danwalkercomedy and Instagram at @daniellewalkercomedy


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