Woman of a thousand faces
This article is from 2007.
Joanna Neary is perhaps the most industrious character comedian on the circuit. While lesser mortals such as Steve Coogan and Barry Humphries can only stretch to a handful of roles in an entire career, Neary has enough offbeat and grotesque personas in her one-hour act to populate an entire village. Her new show, Little Moments, is more action-packed than ever, featuring a mixture of tried and tested characters, such as lonely Cornish craftmaker Angela Funnel and Mr Timpkins the neutered cat, plus newies including Edinburgh stand-up act Les Miserables.
‘It’ll also have me being myself, which I’m really excited about,’ says Neary. ‘It allows me to explain a bit about the characters beforehand. That way it feels like the audience is in on the joke a bit more.’ This is the first time in more than five years of performing that Neary has come anywhere close to straight stand-up. So why is she stepping out from behind the mask? ‘I suppose it’s partly because I’ve gained in confidence, but in the show I’m mostly reading from my teenage diary from 1985, so it doesn’t really feel like stand-up. My diary’s unintentionally hilarious, very Adrian Mole; teachers are so vulnerable and volatile.’
Neary’s 2004 nomination for the Perrier Newcomer award proved a springboard to radio and television projects, appearing as a talking head in Armando Iannucci’s Time Trumpet, and lusting after Johnny Vegas in Ideal. While these gigs are a welcome financial cushion, Neary favours the roar of the greasepaint and the smell of the crowd. ‘It has been nice learning a different discipline,’ she admits. ‘I’m doing a fourth series of Ideal in the autumn, and it’s lovely to have that to go to. But I love the live stuff the most because everything’s changing constantly and it’s a great excuse for a party.’
Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, 5–26 Aug, 4.45pm, £8.50–£9.50 (£7–£8). Previews 2–4 Aug, £5.