“If I ever took an audience for granted before COVID, I certainly never will again! ” | Naomi Cooper on live audiences, pyjamas at work and the 2020 Funny Women finals

Tell us about you/your act.

I’m a storytelling comic. As soon as anything happens in my life that’s remotely amusing, embarrassing or weird, it gets written down. If you go through the ‘notes’ app on my phone, all you’ll find is ideas for sets and other people’s WiFi passwords. Then at some point I sit down, go through the notes, stitch them into some kind of story, read it the next day and wonder what the hell is wrong with me and why I didn’t just get a good degree in French, a solid job, a nice house in the countryside and a chocolate lab called Winston. 

What’s your favourite thing about working in comedy?

I like realising that a problem I’m having is most likely a universal problem, and that most of the time we’re all in the same crappy boat. I also have a tendency to start laughing when something bad happens, and it’s been great honing that into an actual skill. Plus there’s nothing quite like a live gig, where you’re feeding off an audience’s energy and adjusting your performance accordingly. If I ever took an audience for granted before COVID, I certainly never will again! 

What challenges have you faced working in comedy?

I think one of the hardest things about pursuing a career in comedy is all the work that you (understandably) have to do for free, particularly when you’re starting out. It can’t be helped, you have to learn and get better and this is a hugely over-subscribed industry, but it’s kind of depressing watching all your friends with ‘real’ jobs buy houses and go on holiday while you’re working two or three jobs just to stay afloat. If you love it, it’s still great and you find a way to make it work, but obviously it’s harder for some people than others. The cost of taking a show to Edinburgh is simply beyond some comedians, so those who can afford to do it tend to reap the benefits whilst others get left behind.

How do you feel reaching the final of the Funny Women Awards 2020?

I’m absolutely chuffed to be in the final of the Funny Women Awards. It’s a nice reminder in what’s been a very tough year to keep going because you never know what nice surprises and opportunities are around the corner. 

How has COVID and the restrictions on live performance affected your approach to this competition?

It’s been interesting performing over a web link during this period, because the emphasis for me has been on my writing and a more naturalistic performance style. Ultimately if you have a funny story you enjoy telling, you can tell it anywhere, in any way, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I missed comedy clubs and live audiences! 

Has doing this competition in the current circumstances changed how you’ll approach comedy when things go back to normal?

I will be extremely grateful and actually enjoy that musty smell a lot of green rooms have. Also I might start wearing my pyjamas to work.

What are your hopes for after the competition? Aside from the competition, what else have you been up to over lockdown?

I have been working on my character Philippa, which has become quite popular over social media. She’s the yummy mummy from hell, inspired by various tone-deaf complaints I heard over lockdown. You can view the videos on YouTube.com/naomicooper. I’m currently working with a great team on developing the character and I’m excited to keep going with that.

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

Honestly, just do it. Don’t over-think it. Find an open mic, book yourself a spot, get up there and tell your favourite story. It’s friendlier than you think and if it’s meant for you, you’ll be addicted from the word go.

Naomi is performing at the Funny Women 2020 finals on Tuesday 22nd September 2020.

Book your ticket here.

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

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