Curious People: Explaining the dolphin at Nine Lessons

Curious People: Explaining the dolphin at Nine Lessons

Even though the Nine Lessons shows by Cosmic Shambles Network, are some of the most diverse, inspiring and bonkers nights I have ever had the pleasure of joining in with, when I was onstage at Nine Lessons For Curious People at King’s Place in London last December, doing this character, my Dolphin who talks about politics, I had a feeling that I needed to explain. I mean, I wasn’t a scientist and it wasn’t recognisably stand up comedy, unless you are used to  alternative comedy of circa 1992.

So after some jokes and still in the dolphin voice,  I told the audience that I felt I needed to explain what was happening. There was the laughter of relief. I told them that I went to art school for 7 years, and learnt I could make something out of nothing. (Namely weird theatre shows, made from desire, a deadline and no budget whatsoever, but I didn’t say that bit). And that THIS is the result. It seemed to relax everyone, including me and I’m glad I did it. I didn’t think of it until I was standing in the wings with Cosmic Mel. But that’s fine. If you know Robin Ince, you’ll be used to him and people like him and me suddenly trying new stuff.

Before I went onstage, Harry Hill advised that I needed to pad out the top of the dolphin because the head bit was too floppy. So I took my socks off, and stuffed the top. Harry was right, this looked much better. Ponged though.

For those who don’t know, Nine Lessons are nights with scientists, musicians, comedians and oddballs, and I’m thrilled to see that Robin Ince and The Cosmic Shambles Network have recently made a documentary about these shows, have a look. It’s called Curious People: An Incomplete History Of Nine Lessons and Compendium.

You can see a trailer for it HERE. 

My memories include:

not recognising Jim Bob after hanging out together for four nights, because he’d put a pair of glasses on,

singing backing vocals with Robyn Hitchcock,

discussing what Twerking might be with Grace Petrie (‘can you do it of your own volition?’),

watching Neil Hannon soundcheck and pretending to be nonplussed (I was with my husband who contained himself and casually whispered ‘this is my favourite song’),

and talking about Old Wives Tales with Simon Singh.

I started out doing theatre and worked with art student friends Jason Pegg from Clearlake, film-maker Ben Rivers and a cardboard cow. I once made a doll out of fir cones and played God in the style of Groucho Marx.

After Maddy Costa’s review, who said I’d be better off making a baby, I moved to the ‘comedy’ section of what was then a 5-page brochure and found my audience. Now, I am touring BOOKTALKBOOKTALKBOOK with Ben Moor, and my solo comedy shows ‘WASP IN A CARDIGAN’, ‘STINKY’, and developing new shows, ‘2B Or Not 2B – Drawn to Stories’ for children, and inspired by last weekend’s Exeter Comedy Festival’s little try out show in a knitting shop, I’m working on more ‘WOOLLY STORIES’, in which I put my drawings and comedy together (again).

This photo is by Natalie Shaw for The Cosmic Shambles Network.