“What The Frock! has become the UK's most significant nurturer of female talent, and has meant Bristol now gives female comedians a bigger slice of the action” – The Naked Guide To Bristol, 2015
SARAH GRAHAM INTERVIEWS BETHANY
Bethany Black is "Britain's only goth, lesbian, transsexual stand-up comedian", and a self-confessed “gob-shite” who instantly makes me laugh.
Her comedy style is just like our conversation, packed with “stories about the ridiculous, stupid things I’ve done. I’m an idiot and I’m fully aware that I’m an idiot; every day there is a whole new world of mistakes to be made”.
It’s this easy, conversational style that makes Bethany so likeable: “I come across as quite chatty on stage, so people sort of forget that I’m not just chatting to them. The people who tend to heckle are the kind of people who don’t normally heckle – they just sort of talk to me and then get all embarrassed when they realise there’s hundreds of other people in the room.”
Born at the end of the 1970s, Bethany grew up watching Blackadder, French & Saunders and all the alternative comics of the early 1980s, who inspired her passion for comedy. “I’ve always wanted to be a comedian, ever since I was a child; I was just a comedy geek. I’ve always been a storyteller and a gob-shite.”
Despite this enthusiasm, Bethany struggled to get started as a comic: “I didn’t really know where comedy took place apart from The Fringe and The Comedy Store in London,” she confesses. Her first break was MCing between bands at a friend’s rock night in Preston: “I thought that’d be a good place to start off doing stand-up. It really isn’t. It’s an entirely different audience, but it does teach you how to get people’s attention quickly, how to deal with rowdy audiences, and how to dodge bottles of piss!”
Asked about the highlights of her career, Bethany tells me: “It’s lovely to get to meet and work with people I’ve grown up watching. Loads of my friends in bands never get to meet or work with any of their heroes unless they’re massively successful, but in this industry you do; you work with your heroes really early on.”
Although it’s now “very rare” for Bethany to get nerves, she’s conscious that she’s not your typical comedian: “Because of the way I look and what I talk about, I’m not [most audiences’] idea of what a comedian should be. So when I go on stage and I talk about what I talk about, I’m going on stage knowing the audience is predisposed to probably not like me.”