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Catriona Knox on coming out, Nick Clegg and a UK version of Orange Is The New Black

Catriona Knox on coming out, Nick Clegg and a UK version of Orange Is The New Black

Catriona Knox is one of the most hilarious LGBTI comics working in the UK today.

She’s battled the streets of Edinburgh for the fringe festival for years, leading to a sell-out, critically acclaimed run of her show Thinks She’s Hard Enough in August 2014.

A character comedian, she is the star of BBC Radio 4’s Sketchorama and Mission Improbable among others, and is now bringing the show back for a short run in London.

GSN: Tell me about your shows at the Soho Theatre.

CK: It’s a character comedy show so it’s really ridiculous! It’s a silly, irreverent, unapologetic show. It’s just loads of fun.

I know you performed it in Edinburgh, are there going to be any major differences?

Not massively, I’ve had to update a lot of it because it’s a lot of topical references. I play the character of Nick Clegg, for example. Things have changed quite a bit for him in the past six months.

I think it will feel even more topical than it did back in August.

What makes Nick Clegg a good character?

I suppose the fact that he’s like unbelievably desperate and a bit sad? It’s not biting political satire, it’s a piece of pure silliness really. It’s a kind of pisstake on all those political speeches that don’t say anything. We’re inundated with all that stuff now with the election. It’s not just about Nick Clegg, it’s all of them. Well, unfortunately, he takes the hit.

Going all the way back now, what was it like for you growing up? Did you always want to be a comedian?

I always wanted to be a performer, definitely. I used to be one of those unbelievably irritating children all dressed up doing impressions of my parents’ friends or my music teacher. I had this painfully shy piano teacher, poor woman, but I used to do this impression of her – never in front of her – but in front of my parents. I was always showing off a bit. It’s kind of an awful thing to admit about yourself, but I guess that’s what performing is – showing off a bit.

What was the coming out process for you like?

It was, in the grand scheme of things, pretty alright. For me it was a bit of a surprise to tell family and friends because it wasn’t something that I identified with growing up as I had boyfriends. Everyone probably thought that was the route I was going to go down.

And then I met this girl who is still my partner now and I just fell for her. It was more that than waking up one day and thinking I’d been living a lie, it was more like I had met this person and she blew me away. It opened up this world. It was a bit of a shock for my parents, but they’ve been pretty amazing.

What about being open as an out comic?

It doesn’t really define me in any way. It’s not something that I think about a great deal in my work or in my comedy. I just want to write what’s funny. You do have this responsibility to be out and say, ‘This is what I’m doing and I love it and it shouldn’t be a reason for anyone to have a problem with it.’

How was your dating life before the partner you’re with now?

I suppose I tended to be in a relationship or single. So I had a boyfriend for quite a lot of time. Those are the two relationships I’ve had, one was a guy and one was a girl.

So would you identify as gay or bisexual?

It’s a difficult one. If I was pushed I’d say yeah, I’m bisexual, but I feel I now identify as gay because I’m in a gay relationship and I’ve been doing that for the past seven years almost now.

This is the one I want to stay in, so yeah, I am gay. I don’t really think about it myself now. If pushed, I would say definitely bisexual. You’ve caught me there? I don’t know! But it’s all good!

Do you think LGBTI people are represented enough on television?

No, I don’t think so at all. I think often when you get a show that is about LGBTI people, it has to be about that issue, about coming out and being gay. But I think we’re getting better at it, as it doesn’t have to be this huge problem.

American television is probably better at it? I think we are slightly behind and often there is a tendency to fall in the stereotypes of gay characters.

There’s no Orange Is The New Black, for example.

We could do something like that here! Maybe I’d have to write it.

Maybe you should! What character would you play?

I would play the really hot, sexy one with the glasses, the mean one! Oh I can’t remember her name.

Oh god I can’t remember it either. Not Piper,… Alex!

Yes! Do you think the lesbian community are going to shun me now? Please don’t. Please come see me still!

Catch Catriona Knox at the Soho Theatre from 16-18 April at 9pm. Get your tickets here. Follow her on Twitter for future dates and more info.

Watch her on Charlie Brooker’s Weekly Wipe below: