Katy Brand is a massively successful comedian and writer who has dipped her toes in virtually every water: she’s worked as a stand up, appeared in films and countless television shows, had her own television series, written for newspapers and, most recently, written and published a novel. Here is a woman of obvious ability who is keen to push her own limits to achieve many exciting things and judging by her rich and varied career so far, we can only assume that there will be great things to come from this wonderful and talented comedy-machine.
To delve further into Katy’s fascinating life and learn more about the person behind the comedy, I asked her these seven questions…
1) Do you have any strange hobbies?
Well, for years comedy was my hobby, and then I made it my job, so I think I’ve sort of forgotten how to have a proper hobby in some ways. I miss having a hobby – I’d like to have one again, but I’ve been working pretty flat out for so many years that it’s fallen by the wayside a little. It’s important to have hobbies though – I think they stop you being an arsehole, or obsessing about your own little professional world too much. They give relief and joy (does that sound like the name of a sex shop?)… I remember doing a show with Josie Long called The Bubble where comedians were locked in a house with no internet, TV, phones or radio for three days so we couldn’t see the news, and she was using the time to study for her maths A-Level, just because she wanted to. I thought that was very inspiring. I love astronomy, and although I am terrible at maths myself, I would like to get into that more. And archaeology and anthropology. I love drawing and painting, too. I don’t do enough of any of it.
2) Who are your biggest comedic influences?
There was a great run of TV comedy in the 1980s and 1990s when I was growing up that was biting and anarchic and quite rude and raw – The Young Ones, Spitting Image, Harry Enfield and Kathy Burke, French and Saunders, Absolutely Fabulous, and so on. It seemed very evenly spread too, in terms of class and gender, though perhaps not race. There were also phenomenally crafted comedies from the US on late like Seinfeld and The Larry Sanders Show which I stayed up way past my bedtime to watch. I remember The Kids in the Hall being a great favourite of mine around that time (a lunatic Canadian sketch show), and a British character called The Divine David, created by David Hoyle (go and see him if you ever get the chance) which just blew my mind. Outside of comedy, Gilbert and George also inspired me a lot – I like anything that feels like trouble, as if the wheels might come off at any moment.
3) You studied Theology at university, how did you find this? What drew you to it?
I took it upon myself to become an evangelical, happy clappy Christian at the age of 13 (no fault of my parents, who found it simultaneously baffling and hilarious) and I stayed on until the end of my first year at university. I wanted to study Theology because I wanted to understand more about the origins of my faith, but I was also drawn to the philosophical and psychological aspects too. My church was not terribly supportive (they were quite rigid about Bible interpretation), and by the end of year one, I was more interested in, ahem, ‘other things’. I didn’t go back to church, and I threw myself into the comedy and drama scene at University, so I can’t say I was the pride of the Theology Department, although all the tutors and professors were incredibly fascinating, open minded people of the kind you really wouldn’t mind being stuck in a lift with for a few hours, so I enjoyed my studies even if I wasn’t a very diligent student. I will always defend the study of religion as the social evolution of humanity as a great subject for anyone to get stuck into.
4) If you could only drink one beverage for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Champagne. Sorry, but there it is. I fucking love champagne, and I don’t even care. I also like Robinson’s Peach squash, but I’m not going to sit here and pretend it’s as good as champagne because it isn’t.
5) What is the worst thing in the entire universe?
Spiders. They look like death to me. I shudder and am consumed with mortal dread whenever I see one. This is one of the reasons why I have been unable to accept the several kind offers I have received over the years to participate in I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here.
6) What is the most exciting thing about comedy for you?
That you can stand on a stage and say anything you want and get an immediate response. It may not be the response you want, but still, you can take an idea from your bedroom to a roomful of strangers in only the time it takes to get to the venue, and see how it plays. That’s live comedy, of course. With TV and film, you’re looking at more like two to five years if you’re lucky, which is a little less thrilling…
7) Do you have a piece of knowledge that everyone should hear about?
Here’s three: 1) Sexual promiscuity in women has as much anthropological basis as men, perhaps even more so (for more details, see Sara Pascoe and assorted scientists). 2) Things won’t get better for society until we have a proper system of paid paternity leave which men take without worrying about the consequences. 3) Dogs are the fount of true, unconditional love – you can tell everything you need to know about a person by how they treat a dog.