Written by Standard Issue


Getting to know you… Debra-Jane Appelby

If you’re a regular visitor to Standard Issue, you won’t need telling that we’re lucky enough to have a cracking team of contributors who we love dearly. We thought it was about time we let them introduce themselves properly. Give a wave to Debra-Jane Appelby.

Debra (2 of 2)-2Name: Debra-Jane Appelby

Age: 49

Location: Thatcham, West Berkshire

Official job title: Standup comedian/writer

What was the first thing you wanted to be? A scientist. Because of Dr Who.

When did you know you wanted to be what you are now? About two minutes into my first gig. I had always been a fan of standup but it seemed unreachable – like being an astronaut – until the sudden realisation that I was doing it, and no matter how low down the spectrum I was now a ‘comedian’.

What’s your strongest memory from school/education? Being bullied and feeling alone.

When you’re not working, what else do you like to do? Recently it’s playing and learning music. But it’s always been games. From board games to video games. Been playing since Pong.

What has been your proudest creative moment to date? My script for an-as-yet-un-commissioned TV show, Social Justice. It’s the best thing I’ve done. It’s funny and serious and contains proper social commentary. Followed closely by being published in Standard Issue, of course.

What was your favourite day at work? Pretty much every time I hit the stage at Last Laugh in Sheffield. I have a real affinity with the place and the people there. Look forward to it like a holiday.

What would you like to erase from your past? Losing touch with my daughter. It’s my only regret. Even though we are in touch again now, speak regularly and I have two amazing grandsons.

What brings you the most joy? Laughing.

What makes you angry? Injustice.

Professionally, who has been your biggest inspiration? I presume you are after a Bill Hicks or Sarah Silverman, but I wouldn’t be a professional comedian without the support of my family and friends. They have always been my biggest inspiration.

“Is this a trick question? Should the answer be Justin Bieber or something?”

Have you ever met someone who made you go weak at the knees? My now ex-partner Karen. She still does; however, as Adele says, “sometimes it lasts in love, but sometimes it hurts instead”. We had a great seven years.

What advice would you give a woman who wants a career like yours? Be prepared to be poor, and keep those temping skills up to date. But mainly, only do it if it’s fun and inspiring. If it’s financial reward you are after, you may be disappointed. It’s a narrow business as far as that level of success goes. Also, be versatile.

How do you define success? Being happy to go to work and having enough to live on.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever had? Don’t die regretting things you didn’t try.

What’s your favourite photograph of yourself? I hate having my photo taken. But the only one I have on display is of me on the day I moved to London.

Me (on the right) 20 years and seven stone ago on the day I moved to London. I know, ‘hot!!’, right?

Me (on the right) 20 years and seven stone ago on the day I moved to London. I know: ‘hot!!’, right?

Where did you go on your favourite holiday? Paris.

Who can’t you live without? Me! Or more specifically what’s left of this body that keeps the collection of memories, impulses and synaptic reflections of this brain which is classified as ‘me’ alive with oxygenated blood. Or is this a trick question? Should the answer be Justin Bieber or something?

What can’t you live without? Distraction. But these days, probably the internet. I get genuine withdrawal if it is not available.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? Gender reassignment. It saved my life.

Who is your favourite person? Eric Morecambe.

Who is your favourite animal? Barley the dog.

Barley the dogWhich song could be used to soundtrack your life so far? Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey.

What are your favourite three articles in Standard Issue? Christine Robertson’s IVF one had me in tears; Angela Barnes’ tribute to Linda Smith, who was also a personal hero of mine; and Jen Offord’s piece about the women’s World Cup because I’m a massive footie fan. But there are too many to remember.

Which question would you have liked to answered in this questionnaire, but weren’t asked? Which fictional future would you want to live in? The correct answer is Star Trek, of course.

Debra-Jane Appelby is the resident MC at KickBack Comedy in Guildford.


Catch up on our previous chats with Standard Issue’s contributors: Ruth Bratt and Emma Mitchell.

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Written by Standard Issue