Sara Pascoe has been thinking a lot about love recently. Her new touring show, Sara Pascoe Vs History explores some of the greatest love stories ever told.
No, not Jordan and Peter, Posh ’n’ Becks or Will & Kate, but the timeless ones such as Joséphine and Napoleon, Adam ’n’ Eve and, um, Eva & Adolf.
Anyone who has followed the stand-up career of the talented Ms Pascoe would realise that she isn’t just reeling off a list of historical male/female couples for the sake of it, there are serious arguments at the heart of her show. “One of my points is that monogamy is a cultural system and not a natural one, and sometimes we worry that our relationships aren’t right or that we’re bad people because we might fancy someone that isn’t our partner.”
Although she had a wildly successful Edinburgh Fringe with this show (it gained her a first nomination for the main Edinburgh Comedy Award), Pascoe found there was almost too much material to pack in: it also dealt with sperm competition theory, her own relationship with a fellow comedian and having babies.
Taking the show on tour allows her to breathe new energy into sections that might have felt a little cramped due to the constraints of squeezing it all into one hour.
“This was the first time I’d had the experience of thinking it’s OK if bits weren’t ready for the Edinburgh show as I could work them up in gigs for the tour. So it felt like Edinburgh was the beginning of the process rather than the end of it.”
At the age of 18, Pascoe tried to get into drama school but ended up studying English Literature at Sussex University where she did begin to appear on stage. “I wanted to do dramatic Chekhov pieces or Sarah Kane plays but I was always cast in comedies which really annoyed me.
“I thought comedy was very easy and cheap; in 2006 I was in a sketch show which was all about topical stuff and it gave me a chance to write.
“Then I tried stand-up for the first time. I certainly had no plans for it to be my career but it rather assiduously took over my life and I’m now a comedy obsessive.”
That growing obsession carried her through her first open spots and onto the Hackney Empire in January 2008 where she appeared in their new act competition with a belief that she would do well.
“They weren’t shouting at me to get off, but their faces said ‘we hate you and you’re not funny’ and that was so horrible.
“But on the way home I did remember comics saying when you have the bad one and still want to do it that’s when you know that you’re a comedian.”