Maisie Adam: 'We like to pretend we live these faultless, perfect lives with no mistakes and then condemn people'

This article is from 2019

Fire away

Ahead of her return to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the award-winning stand-up discusses her unusual start in comedy and the social media blame game

It's different for everyone, of course, but there are a few general rules about starting a career in stand-up. Get a minute of material under your belt for an open-mic spot and if that goes well, write two then five then ten minutes of gags. Gradually building up a body of work may well eventually earn you the right to consider thinking about crafting your debut Fringe hour.

This was decidedly not how Maisie Adam made her start in comedy. Despite living in a small north Yorkshire village (the brilliantly named Pannal), far from the comedy hubs in her county, chance seemed to fall in her lap. 'There was a Fringe festival in Ilkley, about half an hour away from me, and they put a call-out for local people to participate in it,' she recalls. 'They replied to me saying I had an hour slot in the Ilkley Playhouse theatre, and I thought "that's nice".'

While Adam enjoyed the experience, she doesn't fully relish watching it back now (her best friend's dad filmed it) and admits that perhaps only three minutes made it into Vague, her uproarious Fringe debut last year about her health (she was diagnosed at the age of 14 with juvenile myoclonic epilepsy), her height (she's rather tall) and her happiness (all told, she's reasonably happy). That show earned a Best Newcomer nomination just 12 months after she won So You Think You're Funny (only the fifth woman to leave Edinburgh with that award since its 1988 inception). Last August she also won an Amused Moose prize while her name appeared on the sold-out boards outside her venue on a daily basis.

Maisie Adam: 'We like to pretend we live these faultless, perfect lives with no mistakes and then condemn people'

credit: Andy Hollingworth
If Vague was a general introduction to who Maisie Adam is, her new hour, Hang Fire, offers up some opinions on a persistent niggle in our social media-led culture. 'We're quite quick to jump on each other and point the finger of blame. We like to pretend we live these faultless, perfect lives with no mistakes and then condemn people who may make a human mistake. Does this one scenario mean that they're a terrible person? The show is exploring that.'

Adam admits to unfairly accusing others herself on occasion: her boyfriend got it in the neck recently when she was unable to locate her costume and wig immediately prior to an appearance at Amusical, the night run by Jayde Adams and Kiri Pritchard-McLean where comics belt out their favourite number from a musical. It all turned out OK for Adam given that her gear showed up and she ended up winning the competition (she just can't stop winning). Her chosen number was 'You're the One That I Want', in which she performed simultaneously as both Sandy and Danny.

While she is keen to make the most of her time as a stand-up, Adam might one day look to cultivating an acting career. A former member of the National Youth Theatre, she played Siouxsie Sioux in the episode of Sky Arts' Urban Myths where the Sex Pistols upset interviewer Bill Grundy with their snotty, punkish ways. So, is there a plum role she fancies taking on? 'Well, Gavin and Stacey is coming back. I'm not from Essex or Wales but if they need a Yorkshire contingent in there I'm their gal.'

Maisie Adam: Hang Fire, Gilded Balloon Teviot, Bristo Square, 3–26 Aug, 5pm. Previews 31 Jul–2 Aug.

Maisie Adam: Hang Fire

Maisie's second full-length show features the comedian trying to work out how is to blame, and for what.