This article is from 2007.
Being a cult figure in a beloved sci-fi sitcom hasn’t harmed Hattie Hayridge’s career. Doug Johnstone catches up with her
Just don’t mention Red Dwarf. Actually, it’s not a problem, mainly because Hattie Hayridge is such a laid-back character. A more uptight comedian might bridle at the mention of the cult sci-fi comedy series for which they’re most famous, and which has overshadowed their career to date, but Hayridge just shrugs it off with a smile. ‘I never talk about it in my stand-up, but I would if someone asked,’ she says. ‘I keep any Red Dwarf talk for conventions, which all of the cast still go to. The crowds there are a decent bunch of people, for sci-fi fans, and because it’s comedy, they’re not too fussed about what happened when you went into that black hole and spiralled backwards into a parallel universe. They’re generally a down-to-earth lot, or whatever the space equivalent of that is.’
Hayridge had a handful of early successes in her comedy career, a way of life, she maintains, that she fell into by accident. ‘I was a secretary and went to a comedy club where they had an open mic slot. I had a few Southern Comforts, got up and started moaning about being a secretary. Someone gave me a gig from that, which panicked me.’ Within a year, Hayridge had appeared on Friday Night Live, performed at the Montreal Comedy Festival and landed the part of ship’s computer Holly in Red Dwarf. ‘But my career has evened out very much since then,’ she deadpans.
Hayridge may seem like a familiar face around the Fringe, but she hasn’t performed a full stand-up show here for eight years. Why the long absence? For one thing, she’s been working on a film script, which has taken an interminably long time, and is still getting passed around production companies. Apart from that, like a fine wine, she’s been waiting for herself to mature. ‘My style’s always been a bit dizzy hasn’t it?’ she says. ‘Not on purpose, that’s just the way it is. I’ve been waiting for myself to develop a more grown-up style of comedy, but I don’t think that’s happened.’
So, we shouldn’t expect a brand new Hattie Hayridge, eschewing the gentle ramble to rant and rave against the madness of the modern world, then? ‘I do rant when I write material,’ she says quietly. ‘But I have this habit of starting off with four pages of rant, and condensing it all down into a one-liner.’
Hattie Hayridge, Underbelly, 0870 745 3083, 4–26 Aug (not 14), 7.55pm, £9.50–£10.50 (£8.50–£9.50). Previews 2 & 3 Aug.