Written by Standard Issue


Q&A: Sara Pascoe

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. Today, it’s the frank, fact-loving and hilarious Sara Pascoe.

Sara-Pascoe-tour-pic croppedWe’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: Jo Brand, Katherine Ryan, Susan Calman, Jessica Fostekew, Jo Caulfield, Zoe Lyons, Holly Walsh and our very own Sarah Millican. We’re beyond chuffed to have the excellent Sara Pascoe, too.

Sara Pascoe wears her feminist heart on her sleeve. Her combination of feminism, jokes and brilliantly off-kilter perspectives make the comedy world a better place. She’s also just been shortlisted for the Times/South Bank Breakthrough Award, which selects rising stars from various disciplines of the arts. The winner, announced on 7 June, is chosen by the public, so click here to cast your vote.

What’s the best thing that’s ever happened to you onstage? 

I like it when there are dogs in the audience, either because someone has a guide dog with them or it is a pub that allows pets. On my tour, there was a guide dog in Norwich and when there was a really big laugh he would bark, a lusty deep “woof” as if asking, “What’s so funny?” and then the audience all laughed again. It was pretty glorious. Also once in North London, Brian Gittens was performing with a rubber ball in his pocket that squeaked when he bent down, and whenever this happened a yappy spaniel ran up from the pub downstairs and jumped up at him. SO FUN.

Where do you get your inspiration for material?

I read a lot of non-fiction and try to write about things that I find interesting, in the hope that other people will too. Sometimes I’m right, sometimes I’m wrong. But the thirst for knowledge and incredible facts is quite a universal trait, and I really enjoy it when my standup feels like a conversation with the audience, about fascinating things. I have to do it that way because nothing funny ever happens to me in real life. I wish someone would just fall over once in a while.

When did you realise you were a feminist?

I read my mum’s literature when I was about 12 or 13. Germaine Greer and Our Bodies, Ourselves and The Womens Room. I don’t even think my Mum read them, but I did, and because I was at such a formative age, I related to the ideas so strongly that not being a feminist was never an option.

Which women have inspired you and how?

All the women comedians. I have such a supportive, creative, empathetic and intelligent group of work colleagues it makes me feel emotional with gratitude. I don’t know if it’s because there are less of us in a male-dominated industry that makes us kind to each other, or if women who become comedians are already sensitive, thoughtful people, but the amount of love and respect and goodwill is heady. And inspires me to be better. And to ensure that even more women know that they are welcome and encouraged to join us!

“I love crossing the River Thames and taking a look to either side of me at the buildings and the moon, and saying to myself, ‘I am 33 with a child’s life and I am so lucky.’”

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

Probably Henry VIII. I would be his plucky female friend who was great at jousting and never let him kiss her and persuaded him not to kill his wives all the time.

What were you like as a kid?

Earnest and crying all the time. Same as now.

What brings you joy?

Reading. And riding my bicycle home after a gig, I love crossing the River Thames and taking a look to either side of me at the buildings and the moon, and saying to myself, “I am 33 with a child’s life and I am so lucky.” I do have the exact life I wanted when I was child. I swim and eat sweets and buy new colouring pencils instead of sharpening the old ones and I put food out for the foxes and it’s great.

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

My Dad told me: “Don’t have a back-up plan. Make it work or starve to death.” Perhaps I only think it’s good advice because it worked for me; there may be a few people in my family who did starve and their final thoughts were, “Terrible advice, Derek, food is really important.”

What’s always on your ‘to do’ list that never gets done?

I am incredibly organised so it all gets done. A tip I have is to fill your list with lots of achievable things along the way so you feel you are being more productive than you are. Mine would look like this:

Green Tea
Wash up cup
Tax return
Book a yoga class for three months’ time when you have a different personality and enjoy yoga
Buy treat on internet
Tidy desk
Green tea.

And at the end of the day I’m like, “HOORAY! I did everything! Except my tax return.” But eventually even that gets done because I am on such a high of productivity.



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.

Read more about the work funded by Comic Relief in Jess Fostekew’s piece about her visit to New Horizon: http://standardissuemagazine.com/voices/new-horizons-for-young-women-in-need

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Written by Standard Issue