I’m not doing New Year’s resolutions this year. This is partly because they’re always farcically ambitious and failed by January 3rd, but mainly because for the first time ever, I don’t want to change anything
At the end of 2014 I decided that 2015 was going to be my year. I was newly single, unemployed and had overdosed on quality streets. In a fit of madness I decided it was time for a new year new me. Let it be known that I never do things by halves.
Instead of taking up yoga or vowing to drink less gin like a normal person, I decided that I was going to become a stand up comedian.
I applied to take a show to the Edinburgh festival, performing a solo hour for 26 days in August. By the time I had realised how ridiculous this was I had had my application accepted. I could count the number of times I had performed stand up on two hands. I had never performed for longer than 5 minutes.
The next 6 months became a marathon of working all week, and writing all weekend. I had no idea where to start. I woke up every single day with a cold dread seizing in my chest. How was I going to do this? Did it matter if I pulled out? Did I really have to do the whole hour?
I decided to call my show ‘Champagne Socialist,’ and base it around my thwarted attempts to be a lefty, Hackney dwelling media wanker when I sound like the Queen and my lineage includes Tory cabinet ministers. I covered everything from princes, porn and privilege to a penchant for terrible taxidermy. The show began to take shape. My nervous energy took over.
I got a new job, working in food TV. My new boss and I shared a dark sense of humour. Together we came up with an idea called ‘Deliciously Stella.’ Pained by an instagram feed filled with beaming skinny white women peddling chia seeds and the benefits of beach yoga, I decided it was time for a parody. I looked to clean eating queen Deliciously Ella for inspiration and settled on the name Deliciously Bella. Alas, it was taken, so Deliciously Stella was born.
Together, my boss and I dreamed up ridiculous posts that satirised the movement and I began trolling celebrities on instagram, willing them to like my posts. A month later, it had worked. I was featured in Grazia and spotted by Davina McCall. She tweeted about me and I gained 5000 followers. The Deliciously Stella wave had begun.
Over the next few months I juggled work with magazine interviews and writing my show. I started previewing it to friends in pubs. Making notes on where I got laughs, separating the wheat from the chaff. As I made progress, the popularity of Deliciously Stella began to eclipse my little show about being posh. It was suggested that I ditch it and write a show about Stella. I stood my ground. I would not budge. (I’m doing Stella the show this year)
My parents live in Edinburgh so I moved back home for the month of August. They’d made me trade bedrooms with my brother and I was less than impressed. Nothing makes you regress to behaving like a toddler quite like unconditional love.
The Edinburgh Festival is amazing. For many people it’s their favourite time of year. For my it was more like an endurance test. My best friend and Edinburgh festival afficionado came up for the first weekend to ease me into my first shows. On day 1, my projector broke. I had a panic attack and shouted at a woman called Brenda in Argos. I had never seen my mother look more grateful than when Emily whisked me off to the apple store while I gobbled xanax and tried to learn my lines.
After Emily left, my parents paid my sister to drive me in and out of Edinburgh, help me flyer and deal with whichever nervous breakdown was in full swing that day. She made and wore a sandwich board with my face on it. I have never felt so loved.
The first two shows were terrifying and then on the third day, something changed. I walked into the pub basement where i performed my nightly show and I saw that my venue was packed to the rafters. A queue of Tory dads were snaking around the block. My mother had sent out my press release to everybody on her Christmas card list.
From that day onwards, the shows got better and better. I was having the time of my life. I was making money doing comedy. I was named as one of Glamour magazine’s top 8 comedians to see at the Fringe. I was riding high.
A week later I got a 2 star review. My stomach flipped and I fell on the floor. I made my mother buy sleeping pills off the internet that were sent from Spain and I lost the will to continue.
By the end I was a broken woman. I’d shed a stone in weight and I needed a holiday. There was one more night to go and I didn’t know what to expect. All I wanted was to lie in a darkened room. Then, on my final night, something amazing happened. my venue that held 50 people held 100. People were standing outside the pub door, they were sitting on top of the bar, 10s of people were standing just to see my show. My other best friend and flatmate had flown up to see me even though her foot was in a surgical boot. Everything was going to be OK.
My friend and the woman who would become my agent was sitting in the wings. I’d made it. I had survived. I was officially a professional stand up comedian.
I now have over 80,000 instagram followers and am involved in projects so exciting I’m not allowed to talk about them. 2015 was actually my year. 2016 has got a lot to live up to.