Written by Standard Issue

Misc

Getting to know you… Gabby Hutchinson Crouch

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 big wave to Gabby Hutchinson Crouch.

Gabby Hutchinson CrouchName: Gabby Hutchinson Crouch

Age: 36

Location: Mostly Canterbury, sometimes London

Official job title: Freelance comedy writer

What was the first thing you wanted to be? A primary school teacher. My sister, when she was about five, wanted to be a clown. Now she’s a primary school teacher and I am, essentially, a clown. Which is nice.

When did you know you wanted to be what you are now? I started wanting to do comedy in some form or another when I was in my early teens.

What’s your strongest memory from school/education? Trying to summon Catherine, the ‘ghost’ that apparently haunted the upper juniors’ girls’ toilets, as you do when you’re dead. You had to shout “Catherine Catherine, one, two, three.” Sometimes the door handle would rattle and we’d run out screaming, never once stopping to wonder if it was just someone on the other side of the door.

When you’re not working, what else do you like to do? Dick about online, watch and listen to comedy, hang out with the kids. We enjoy doing baking together.

What has been your proudest creative moment to date? Before I started writing for money, I wrote a Zombie Apocalypse Alternative Universe fanfiction that I’m still really proud of.

Professionally, I’m still very pleased with a runner sketch for Lewis Macleod Is Not Himself in which Martin Freeman is trying to hide from Benedict Cumberbatch, who keeps popping up disguised as various ridiculous things. I love those sketches because they were essentially fanfiction that I was getting paid to write, and included the line: “My name is long and ridiculous, like my face.”

“One of my first interactions with my now-husband was when I tripped over his foot and fell on my face. Not so much weak knees as terrible balance.”

What was your favourite day at work? I’ve been able to sit in on Dead Ringers; Welcome to Our Village, Please Invade Carefully; Souvenir Programme and Dilemma recordings and call it work, which were all pretty amazing.

There was something particularly electric about the day after the 2015 election, even though I, and most of the people I was working with were bummed out by the result. I was writing for the following Wednesday’s Newzoids, and politicians we had puppets for were either losing their seats or resigning quite literally left, right and centre.

Afterwards I went out for drinks with some of the Vote Now Show team, who’d been up all night working and recorded in the afternoon for broadcast that evening. Everyone was punch drunk and exhausted, but what a day to work in British satire.

What would you like to erase from your past? All the times that I’ve hurt other people by being an arsehole.

What brings you the most joy? My husband and children. Also, erotic fanfiction.

What makes you angry? The powerful picking on the vulnerable, and the people who help bullies and abusers by blaming the vulnerable for being in the situation in the first place.

Professionally, who has been your biggest inspiration? So many comedians and comedy writers have inspired me, but JK Rowling’s success really brought home to me some time ago that the responsibilities of motherhood and the work it takes to break into a writing career aren’t incompatible.

Have you ever met someone who made you go weak at the knees? I fell on my arse the first time I met John Finnemore, but that was because I was very drunk.

Come to think of it, one of my first interactions with my now-husband was when I tripped over his foot and fell on my face. I think the thing to take from this is that I fall down a lot. Not so much weak knees as terrible balance.

What advice would you give a woman who wants a career like yours? You have to really love writing, because you’ll be doing it constantly – writing and rewriting and re-rewriting. Get used to working on not much sleep. Submit to the BBC’s Open Door Shows. Keep trying. The industry is largely aware that it needs more female writers, so if you’re good, your voice would be an asset to any writing team.

How do you define success? Doing what you want to do, and doing it well.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever had? ‘Don’t be precious about accepting notes and write to the fucking brief’– from various different producers and more established writers, who know what they’re talking about.

Young Gabby on a dinghyWhat’s your favourite photograph of yourself? I’m going to share this picture of me as a kid, which I like because of just how horribly I am dressed.

Every single item of clothing I’m wearing is just awful. Awful. Not one of those clothes would have been new except possibly the life jacket. Everything else would have been hand-me-downs from cousins, my parents’ friends with older children or secondhand shops. Note that I am standing in a dinghy, on the way to or from my parents’ yacht.

They had a YACHT. And yet were apparently too poor to buy their kids new clothes. Hashtag The1980s.

Where did you go on your favourite holiday? My honeymoon in the Maldives was amazing, with the exception of my new husband getting terrible sunburn a few days in.

Who can’t you live without? Husband and kids.

What can’t you live without? Water and Wi-Fi.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? Popping out a couple of offspring.

Who is your favourite person? Don’t make me choose between the three lovable tossers I live with.

Who’s your favourite animal? I don’t really care for dogs much, which is a testament to just how cute my sister’s cocker spaniel Penny is. She’s the BEST. Here she is being the fifth bridesmaid at my sister’s wedding.

Penny the bridesmaidWhich song could be used to soundtrack your life so far? I think the best song that sums up life in general for me is Tonight We Fly by The Divine Comedy.

What are your favourite three articles at Standard Issue? I’m finding Julie Mayhew’s pieces about Nazism really interesting, and Jessica Fostekew’s recent piece on unwarranted advice towards expectant mothers spoke to me on so many levels. I love the Rated or Dated and Binging pieces too.

Which question would you have liked to have answered in this questionnaire, but weren’t asked? Sorry, I always panic when I’m asked this sort of question, I’m the same at job interviews. Sorry, I don’t know!

@scriblit

Gabby is a writer and script editor on Newsjack, on Radio 4 Extra Thursdays at 10.30pm, which accepts open door sketch and one liner submissions. For more details visit the webpage or follow @newsjackBBC.

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Written by Standard Issue