Friday, 19 September 2014

Interview - Kerry Godliman

MENTION the name Kerry Godliman and you will no doubt think of Derek, the Ricky Gervais sitcom in which she plays care assistant Hannah.
However, the role, which Gervais wrote with her in mind, is just the tip of the iceberg that is her impressive and versatile career.
As well as being the host of her own Radio 4 show Kerry's List, her CV boasts numerous TV appearances including BBC's Silk, Spoons, Miranda, Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow as well as the Gervais creations of Extras, Life's Too Short and Derek.
And not only is she an actress, she is also a critically acclaimed stand up comedian, making the final of the 2003 Babycham Funny Women competition, supporting Micky Flannagan on his recent Out Out Tour, appeared on BBC1 TV's Live At The Apollo and enjoying sell out gigs at the Edinburgh Fringe with her Wonder Woman show.
She is now about to take the mic once again but this time a little closer to her West Norwood home at the Magner's Greenwich Comedy Festival on September 26.
The five-day festival, which kicks off on September 24, includes such notables as Arthur Smith, Rich Hall, Nina Conti and Milton Jones and Kerry says she is looking forward to it, particularly as it's "not the O2".
"I did the O2 and it was absolutely terrifying," she laughs. "It was an incomprehensible size - you can't see the audience but know they are there. You can't be relaxed in a place like that.
"This one will be great - it's more intimate and you can create a lot of energy - though you are really exposed. If it doesn't go well it's like a dinner party where you forget to cook."
We chat not long after her arrival in Edinburgh as she prepares to go on stage for a short run of gigs as part of the annual Fringe Festival - something she describes as like an "AGM for clowns".
"I'm acclimatising - it's very different to West Norwood," she laughs. "I've not been here for a few years and wasn't going to do it again but I got persuaded to do the last two weeks of it so here I am.
"As a comic it helps keep you match fit and it's a really lovely, amazing event and there are plenty of toilets for us to cry in when it all goes wrong!"
So what persuaded her to do comedy for a living.
It turns out it was while she trained as an actress, graduating from Rose Bruford College in Deptford in the mid 90s, that she secretly harboured ambitions to be a comedian.
So, after "bimbling about" doing just enough to earn a living - which included role play work for companies and schools which she describes as "unfulfilling" - she did a course in stand up at London's City Lit and hasn't looked back.
Indeed, she is now in the enviable position of being able to do both acting and comedy - and is in demand for both.
"I feel very lucky to do both and like the variety," she says.
"I like working alone because I'm not answerable to anyone but by the same token comedy can be isolating and lonely especially when you are on the road.
"Acting isn't like that - it's a community and you are dependent on a team of people. So it's great to be able to do both - I don't envy those who do just one or the other.
And she modestly insists that her work as a comedian helped her catch the eye of Ricky Gervais.
"When Ricky created Hannah he had me in mind which is lovely. She's an amazing character and the kind of woman you don't see a lot of," she says.
"I was in Extras and Life's Too Short so I think Ricky just remembered me from that really. I got a call, had a meeting about it and got given the part," she adds simply.
For the moment though she has her comedy hat on and is gathering material for the Greenwich gig which she says will be an amalgamation of bits from her recent Face Time tour, her life as a working mum and other general "frustrations" in life.
"I'll have a chat about cyber friendships, real life identity, social media and washing machines," she says.
Washing machines?
"Yes," she laughs. "The sheer number of settings you get on these things - it's ridiculous - there are too many! I don't know what they all mean. Also, it took me a week to choose a machine when I was buying it."
It's not just domestic appliances that inspire her comedy. Her family have provided her with "more than enough" material over the years though she says she tries to find humour in most things.
"My last tour was about being a parent and I did a lot of stuff about when the kids were new.
"The whole parenting thing is so full on - it defines you. Last time I was at Edinburgh two years ago my whole show was about it.
"I thought it would be my USP but I have moved on now and find other things frustrate me - my Banksy son drew all over the wall with marker pen - that kind of thing.
"I get more sleep now they are a bit older though," she adds chuckling. "I have a couple of friends who are having babies and I look at them with pity!
"Sometimes it's a bit twee but that's my life now so I try and get comedy out of it."
Parental anecdotes aside she adds that property and lifestyle guru Kirstie Allsopp will also come in for some scrutiny as well as material with a local bent.
"I love this area and there's plenty to talk about," she says.
"After I did my course at Rose Bruford I stayed here though migrated a bit westwards.
"I lived in Dulwich and now live in West Norwood - it's cheaper - and of course much cheaper than North London! You can't have a nice house with a garden there!" she laughs.
"West Norwood was a well kept secret but more and more people are moving in now.
"I love South London though. There is always loads going on. A new swimming pool has just been built and my kids are the first in take of a great local school - it's a nice place to bring up kids.
"I'm living the dream!" she laughs.

Kerry Godliman is at the Magner's Greenwich Comedy Festival, National Maritime Museum on Friday, September 26. Tickets cost from £18.50. The festival runs from Wednesday, September 24 until Sunday, September 28. Visit for full listings.

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