“We own it, we aren’t afraid of laughing at ourselves.” | Siân Davies talks coming of age in her late twenties on austerity sponsored travels

Tell us about your show, About Time.

About Time is the story a year in my life. At the start of 2010 I was on the cusp of a life changing year. I was going traveling around the world on my gap year.

Due to my working class background, at 27, I was older than a lot of backpackers and experienced my travels in a different way than an 18 year old would. Despite my age, I was still quite immature and in my typical way, got myself in to plenty of hilarious situations.

The show is about how I navigated those situations and became who I am today.  It’s about time, about growing up, about finding your place in the world and knowing what you are here to do. Ultimately it’s a coming of age story about a gap year sponsored by austerity.

What inspired you to write a show about your travels?

Travel is so ripe for comedic situations, there is so much happening and you experience so much, funny things crop up all the time. From the people you meet to the places you visit and the misunderstandings you have, it’s a funny time.

It was also such a big year in my life, it altered so much in my world and made me who I am today.

Plus it’s a story I’ve always wanted to share with people. I experienced so much during that year and sharing it with people who maybe haven’t had those experiences is really important to me. 

Your show is specifically about what it’s like to travel as a working class person. How do you think your background affects the experience of your journey?

We’re all a product of our upbringing and the things we experience in our formative years. That means we all come at things from different angles. Being working class affects how you experience the world on all levels, whether that’s how you talk to people or your expectation of things.

Specifically my experience was different to more middle class friends I met because I had saved every bit of my cash myself and I wasn’t being financed by the bank of mum and dad. I knew one middle class traveller who got given a car by her parents when she went to uni, which is great if you can afford to do that for your children. When she went travelling her parents bought the car off her to keep as a little run around. When she came back to the UK, they gifted it back to her.

I think financing a round the world trip entirely through your own efforts makes you appreciate it more and understand the value of it.

How do you feel discussing serious topics like class through comedy can help stimulate conversation in broader society?

Comedy and the arts should always hold a mirror up to society and the big issues. By doing this, we help open up dialogue and challenge people’s perceptions. Working class people are vilified in society at the moment, there is this caricature of white working class people who all stupidly voted leave, hate foreigners and want to go back to the 1970’s.

My experience of working class communities are totally different from what is portrayed in the media. I grew up around smart, enquiring minds who welcomed diversity and strived for better lives for everyone. If this show helps to challenge other people’s perception of my community that can only be a good thing.

What is your trick to finding the funny side of subjects like this?

You’ve got to laugh! Even in the most difficult of situations there is humour to be found. A typical way of dealing with trauma in working class communities is to joke about it.

We grow up laughing at ourselves and the lives we have. We own it, we aren’t afraid of laughing at ourselves. But we don’t want to be the butt of other peoples jokes, as is quite often the case in comedy. Lazy jokes that punch down on Aldi shoppers or job seekers by people who went to private school aren’t helping anyone.

It’s my situation and if I can find a way of laughing at it, I will, but it’s mine to own.

What do you hope people take away from your show?

I want the story to stay with people, I want them to still be working their way through it all for a long time after seeing the show. I want them to strive for better for all of us.

Do you have any advice for people looking to get into comedy?

Work hard and be nice to people. It really is the best advice I can give.

Siân is performing About Time at Leicester Comedy Festival on 9th February. Book your ticket here.

She is performing at Vault Festival from 20th to 22nd March. Book your ticket here.

You can keep up with Siân’s work by checking out her website and following her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.