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.
Hannah Fairweather is performing Just A Normal Girl Who Enjoys Revenge, a show about entering her Taylor Swift Blank Space era. Here, she writes about the ex-flatmate that never bought loo roll and using stand-up to stand up for yourself.
I enjoy revenge. In fact, I enjoy revenge so much that I am performing this year at the Edinburgh Fringe with a show called ‘Just A Normal Girl Who Enjoys Revenge’, which perhaps might not seem the most normal thing to do.
This is my debut year — it’s my opportunity to present who I am as both a person and a comedian, my chance to let industry and audience alike know what I stand for and what I have to say when I am lucky enough to have a big platform and lots of people paying attention. It turns out that what I have to say is that my ex-flatmate never bought toilet paper and I’m still really annoyed about it.
This might sound petty and you might be thinking that surely there are bigger and more important things to talk about — and potentially that’s true. However — and this is something that I am trying to discuss in my show — I often wonder why is it that when people, especially women, stand up for themselves or have something to say about the way they have been mistreated, there is, almost always, an immediate assumption of pettiness?
This is something I have experienced and observed often (for example, see Taylor Swift’s entire career), but I think it is unfair to say that someone is being unfair or petty or bitter when speaking honestly about their life and the things that have happened in it, or when standing up for oneself.
I have been previewing my show all across the country in the lead up to August and I have noticed some consistent patterns — the pettiness assumption is the most common but I find people also expect me to be a vindictive or spiteful person. I want all prospective audience members to rest assured that this isn’t the case at all!! The show is simply me going through a list of everyone, such as my ex-flatmate, who has wronged me in the past and I will be spending the hour making jokes about them, one by one!
I honestly didn’t set out for revenge when I first started writing jokes about people who had mistreated me. One of the first people from my real life that I talked about on stage was an ex-boyfriend who treated me terribly (and if you are thinking there are two sides to every story, I certainly agree and am happy to provide a second opinion — perhaps from his one of his other girlfriends who I am sure could confirm whether or not he was a loyal guy). When I spoke about him, I was met with laughter but also told by (kind and well meaning) audience members that they loved how I was getting my “revenge”.
I was genuinely surprised by this, because I didn’t see it like that at all. I didn’t even see it as me talking about him per se, it was me discussing my experiences in my own life. I was just telling silly little jokes about how I didn’t know that he was seeing other people — and in a lot of those jokes, my complete oblivion was the butt of the joke.
However, my simple act of talking about this on stage and perhaps my getting the last laugh, was seen, by some, as an act of revenge. It wasn’t intended to be the case, I was just talking about my life — as all comics and writers do. I wasn’t going out of my way to talk about other people nor was I doing so to get a response from the people I had written about — I was simply talking about my feelings about things that had happened to me in my life - and because I do not go through life in a vacuum, other people are part of my story (and I too am a part of theirs).
I think a big reason a lot of people have difficulty standing up for themselves is because we live in a society that can often make you feel like you are the offender when you choose to defend yourself against someone else’s offence, or in my case, if you just choose to talk about it. I think our culture, in various differing situations and circumstances, makes women stay quiet about the way they have been treated for fear that they themselves might be viewed as the problem.
I think a lot of people have difficulty standing up for themselves for this reason, and most of us think of what we actually wanted to say or should’ve said hours later in the shower. So that’s what I decided to do — take every thought I have had whilst shampooing my hair and turn it into a show. I decided to lean in (it’s my “Blank Space” moment), and I have written a show about revenge. Essentially the show is about learning to stand up for yourself, and I’m using stand up to do so.
Hannah Fairweather: Just A Normal Girl Who Enjoys Revenge runs from 4-28th Aug, 2.25pm, Just Up The Stairs at The Caves. Tickets here
Hannah is on Twitter at @hanfairweather and Instagram and @hannahfairweather
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