Written by Standard Issue


Q&A: Jessica Fostekew

In the lead up to our big Standard Issue Stands Up For Comic Relief gig on Monday 11 May at the Lyric, Shaftesbury Avenue, we’re asking each of our line-up a few questions. This time, we grill Standard Issue’s resident foodie, Jessica Fostekew.

Jessica FostekewWe’ve been merrily banging on about our brilliant forthcoming gig for Comic Relief (Monday 11 May, The Lyric, Shaftesbury Avenue, ON SALE NOW). And yes we’re biased, but it is one hell of a bill: Sarah Millican, Jo Brand, Jenny Eclair, Katherine Ryan, Susan Calman, Jessica Fostekew, Sara Pascoe and Holly Walsh. And there are still more names to be announced.

We nabbed Jessica Fostekew for a five-minute natter. Nerdy, wordy, playful and whip-smart, Fostekew’s standup reflects her life of contradictions.

Whats the best thing thats ever happened to you onstage?

I was in the middle of a lovely gig with a mixture of characters, sketches and monologues etc, in a lovely room, when out of nowhere a kindly, bohemian-looking woman shrieked, “I hate you! I hate what you’re saying and I want you to leave!”

Stunned, I responded, “I’m so sorry I’ve upset you, I’ve got no idea how, though? Is everything okay?”

She said, “Yes, fine. I thought that’s what you were so supposed to say to ‘standups’? No?!”

Then she sat back down and enjoyed the rest of the show.

Where do you get your inspiration for material? 

75% my life
20% stuff I’ve learned
1% things I dreamt
1% my imaginary children
1% my mum
1% my sister
1% witchcraft

When did you realise you were a feminist?

The very first time someone said, “You’re really funny for a woman.”

Which women have inspired you and how? 

My mum: she has infinite patience and love; she’s a great thinker and good drinker, and an unconditional best friend. My sister Hatty is the most doting and persevering young woman I know.

In comedy: French & Saunders (in everything they’ve done individually as well); Kathy Burke; Jo Brand; Miranda Richardson and Patsy Byrne – they all made me cry laughing as I grew up.

Now, there are too many to list. Sara Pascoe is the cleverest and hardest working woman I know. I adore the various types of innovation and sheer funniness of Julia Davis, Rebecca Front, Vicki Pepperdine, Rachel Stubbings, Morgana Robinson and Jessica Hynes…

Emma Watson stuck her neck out pretty eloquently. I love Clare Balding.

All the suffragettes. It would be remiss not to mention Malala Yousafzai, one of the most important women in modern history.

Arrgh, there are loads more. Especially comedy ones. I’m constantly inspired by women for a million different reasons.

If you could befriend anyone from history, who would it be and why?

Cleopatra because of how important it would’ve been not to be her enemy.

What were you like as a kid?

I did ballet but preferred football and tennis. An academic dweeb but with the anger management of The Hulk and the grubby sense of humour of Richie from Bottom.

What brings you joy?


Please could you share the best bit of advice youve ever been given. 

It doesn’t matter where you’re going, enjoy the journey. Recognition is bullshit. Five-year plans are bullshit. If you can’t enjoy what you’re doing while you’re doing it, you will never be happy.

Whats always on your to do list that never gets done?

Everything. Ha ha. For every one thing I’d cross off I’d add another two so it would never end and I would always feel like a failure. I gave up to do lists at the start of this year and I promise I’m getting more done than ever before.


Most people are well aware of the vital work Comic Relief does at home and overseas, but might not be as aware of the work it does with women. All the money raised by Standard Issue Stands Up for Comic Relief will be used to help vulnerable and disadvantaged women and girls here in the UK and across Africa.

From tackling violence against women, raising awareness and educating communities about the harm caused by female genital mutilation to ensuring that the number of women dying in childbirth across sub-Saharan Africa continues to fall, the cash raised will help to make a big difference to women and girls living incredibly tough lives.

Standard Issue Stands Up for Comic Relief is on Monday 11 May at The Lyric, Shaftesbury Avenue, London, 7:30pm.
Visit nimaxtheatres.com/lyric-theatre/standard_issue_stands_up_for_comic_relief for more information.
All profits from this event will be donated to Comic Relief.

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Written by Standard Issue