Work Hard

You’ll be glad we told you about this up-and-coming Geordie comedian, Lauren Pattison

We chat about the impacts of a rocky year, being a young woman in comedy, moving back to the North East, and why there’s no sense of humour like a Geordie sense of humour…

Written by High Life North
Published 26.12.2020

By Jenny Brownlees

Geordie comedian Lauren Pattison’s debut Edinburgh Fringe show saw her win the prestigious Herald Angel Award, with her sell-out show Lady Muck later praised in the national press.

Since, the straight-talking comic has appeared on hit TV shows including Comedy Central’s Comedy Store, Roast Battle and The Stand-Up Show with Katherine Ryan. Showing promise beyond her young years, Lauren has made a name for herself on both the national and international comedy circuit, opening tours for comedians Katherine Ryan and Jason Manford. 

We’ll sure you’ll agree, this young comic has accomplished much since starting out at just eighteen, making the jump to a full-time comic in 2017, after years of working jobs to support her stand-up career. Unfortunately, the arts and their performers have been hit hard by the Covid 19 pandemic. When theatres closed early in 2020, Lauren lost all of her upcoming work and in turn, income for the year. Forever championing her working-class roots, she’s no stranger to having to work hard to match her peers. This year, finding herself with nothing in the diary, she began working in a North East supermarket—something she’s fiercely proud of. This is a topic she’s since discussed with The Telegraph and The Guardian—highlighting the struggles comics from working-class backgrounds, who don’t have a safety net to fall back upon, can face.

Hi Lauren! Thanks so much for talking to us. We know this year hasn’t exactly gone to plan and has been extra tough for those in the gig economy. Firstly, let’s talk pre-pandemic and your comedic beginnings, have you always had a ‘funny bone’?

I was a really, really shy kid—I literally used to hide behind my parents’ legs and wouldn’t talk to people I didn’t know. People who knew me when I was little are always quite surprised when they find out what I do now! But I was definitely brought up in a house with a good sense of humour—I grew up watching classic comedies like Only Fools & Horses and The Royle Family. I got a bit less shy the older I got, I discovered drama and started to come out my shell and realised how much I liked making people laugh. The older I’ve got, the more I value a good sense of humour and looking for the lightness in things. 

Can you tell us more about your experience as a young woman working in comedy, a relatively male-dominated industry? 

I think you do have to work that bit harder. A bloke can walk on stage and most people would think, let’s give him a chance! But when a woman walks out there’s still sadly some people, (by no means everyone) who’ll roll their eyes and assume you’re not going to be good just because you’re a woman. You’re often battling with those preconceptions people have, which isn’t ideal. Then if you do get a good opportunity, there can be the assumption that ‘you only got that because you’re a woman.’ People rarely seem to assume men in comedy only got a job because of being a man. Also, as you’re often the only woman on the bill you can sometimes feel the odd one out. But, if you’re with a good group of comics in a green room, they won’t exclude you.

We loved your show Lady Muck, but for people who may not have seen it, how would you describe your comedy in a few words? 

Truthful, sharp, warm, funny! I’m storytelling with my style, it’s not a shower of fast-paced one-liners, I like to bring you into my world and hopefully weave in lots of laughs along the way. I think it’s very authentic and relatable.

You were meant to be at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this summer with your show Party Of One, can you tell us a little about what it’s about and what inspired it, in the hopes we’ll get see it very soon! 

It was meant to be about loneliness, which feels ironic after finding ourselves in a pandemic, cut off from loved ones. It was brought about because I felt there’s a lot of talk about older people and loneliness but less so about younger people. Plenty of us are on our own in new cities, living with unsociable strangers in flat shares and unsure how to make new connections, particularly if you have a busy work life. I moved to London alone, I didn’t know anyone and the nature of being a full-time circuit comic is you’re often different places every night, so I was struggling to form friendships. My shows are always intrinsically linked to my real life so I don’t know if I’ll ever write the exact show I was planning now, as my life has changed a lot, but I think some elements of it will definitely be there.

You began your comedic career on the North East comedy scene, at The Stand and Tyne Theatre. What is that scene like in Newcastle, and what makes it special?

It’s definitely a much smaller circuit up here. The North East as a whole has plenty of great regular clubs and comedy nights, and you definitely get to know the other acts and promoters very quickly and build good professional bonds. I think that’s what makes it special up here for me. You also feel like people want you to do well, whereas in London it feels much more competitive. When I started in Newcastle, I felt like people cared about getting good at comedy first and foremost, whereas when I moved to London I’d meet brand new acts who just seemed to care about getting on TV—I found that quite sad. I think if you’re a stand-up, above anything else you should have a real passion for those live gigs, even if you want to eventually move away from that. I do feel up here people truly have that love for comedy, which is so important to me.  

You moved back to Newcastle for good early on in the pandemic, what have you enjoyed about being back? 

I love being back in Newcastle—what we lack in warm weather, we make up for in warmth from people. I connect with people up here way better, like-minded folk and all that. It’s better for my mental health and creativity all in one. They’re my kind of people here.

We love that you are so proud of your working-class roots and that you’ve talked really honestly about paying to go to your first Fringe, as well as getting a job in a supermarket during the pandemic. How has it been, breaking into in comedy as a working-class woman? 

It’s incredibly difficult. And what makes it more difficult, is if you dare to speak out and highlight the advantages that come with coming into this industry from privilege, be it a private education that provides connections in later life, or wealthy families who are prepared to help you financially, then you instantly get accused of being jealous.  People cannot bear to be told that they have had an advantage, they want to believe they got where they are entirely of their own merit. People can’t seem to understand that if your parents pay your London rent and you don’t need to work another job, your path is being made slightly easier than the comic working all day then running straight to a gig or not able to gig as frequently as someone who isn’t working because you can’t just skip a shift. I’m not denying those people’s talent, but there are lots of other talented people who don’t have such an easy path, who have to give up because of financial circumstances. We talk a lot about representation in comedy and I still think there’s a huge lack of working-class voices, both in front of the cameras, in the writer’s rooms. People talk about wanting to champion these voices and I say, well do it then. 

As a woman in comedy, do you ever feel you have to stick to ‘female-esque’ topics? Or do you throw out the rule book? 

Of course, there are things that might be more relatable or accessible to women, but I never like to think, ‘Oh I’m going to alienate the men if I talk about this, only girls will find this funny.’ I try to have enough faith in my writing and humour that I can make a joke that will be enjoyed by anyone, even if it’s not about something they can directly relate to. And if they don’t? Then there’s another joke in a few seconds, hopefully, they’ll enjoy that one more. The sooner we learn we can’t please everyone all the time, the better! 

You supported Katherine Ryan on tour, who then became somewhat of a mentor, can you tell us more about that? 

She’s an incredible comic and I’m really grateful she gave me the opportunity to support her for her on three of her tours. When a comedian chooses you to open for them it’s always such an honour, they’re essentially trusting you with their audience and allowing you to reach many more people. She also gave me such a wonderful introduction every night, which was massively appreciated. People can sometimes be a bit wary to a support act, they’re there to see the main act not you, but when someone has taken the time to tell the audience how great you are and how much they like and respect you, the audience tends to be a bit more like ‘oh ok, I trust she is going to be good, bring her out!

As well as Katherine, which female comedians inspire you? Are there any new female acts we should check out?

There are easily a hundred I could tell you to check out, but the more I recommend the more hurtful it is for the great ones who get left out! Sara Pascoe, Aisling Bea and Sarah Millican inspire me hugely, in terms of household name comics. When it comes to the talent you may not know about yet, you should look out for Louise Young, Laura Lexx, Olga Koch and Thanyia Moore. 

What makes you proud of being a Geordie? 

I think there’s a real grafting, solid work ethic instilled in us, we’re not afraid of hard work and I’m so proud of that. We work for what we want because it’s not handed to most of us up here, which makes achievements all the greater. I love the sense of community, we look after our own and champion those who do well—I remember seeing Sam Fender in Newcastle last year and the crowd was electric. I’ve never been in an audience quite like it. You could feel the pride and the support in the air, it was really special. It sounds a cliché but it’s a friendly place, there’s no humour like a good Geordie sense of humour. I feel being from here is so intrinsic to my identity—I love the slang, the colloquialisms, it’s a community, it’s a way of life.

You seem to walk on stage without any nerves, do you have any top tips for banishing nerves we can take into everyday life?

I’m always really nervous, it’s just about faking it I guess! Fake it ‘til you make it. If you look nervous it’s not going to instil much confidence, so put your game face on, lift your head high, pop your shoulders back and own the space you’re in. Also, trust it’ll be OK and even if it isn’t—try again tomorrow! Everyone has a bad day and it doesn’t define your whole career to have one slip up.

It’s Sunday today, tell us about your ideal Sunday – are you a PJs and Netflix type of gal, or do you head out for a walk and a Sunday lunch? 

As a circuit comic, my Sundays were usually spent travelling back from a gig somewhere and were a bit of a write-off, but I loved getting a Sunday all to myself, something about them just feels so indulgent! If I had to plan a dream one, it would be a lie-in, a late breakfast and then if it’s cold, chilling in my joggers watching movies, or if it’s nice weather heading out for a walk and a pint somewhere. Then a big Sunday lunch or cooked meal—some proper comfort food for tea. Ideal!

We know you’ve not long returned to Newcastle, but is there anywhere you’re excited to head to for a cuppa when this is over? 

Oh my goodness, The Butterfly Cabinet in Heaton. I used to go there when I was at uni and the pancakes are iconic. I would very, very much like some of those warm fluffy pancakes as soon as possible. 

Follow Lauren on Instagram

Photographer credit: Andy Hollingworth

 

Other stories by High Life North
23.09.2021

Ask A Boss: “I had a really great job interview – why haven’t I heard back?” 

High Life North
23.09.2021

Introducing Talentheads – the recruitment strategists who take the time to get to know your business before helping you attract and retain the right staff

High Life North
22.09.2021

Sunday sit-down with… Strictly Come Dancing’s Vicky Gill

High Life North
28.08.2021

Are you a marketer looking to learn tried and tested strategies guaranteed to take your skills to the next level? Fabric have got just the course for you…

High Life North
01.08.2021

Sunday sit-down with…Juliet Sanders, CEO of Feeding Families

High Life North
25.07.2021

Meet the team behind HLN’s first fashion shoot

High Life North