"I love improvising with the audience. It really keeps you on your toes..." hmv.com talks to Miranda Hart
Miranda Hart's eponymous sitcom has enjoyed almost universal popularity in the UK in recent years, but as the writer and comedian calls time on the show she's embarking on other things. For one, she's just completed her first ever stand-up tour, and she's also set to feature in Paul Feig's new spy comedy alongside Jude Law and Melissa McCarthy.
One of the busiest women in the entertainment industry, Miranda is notoriously difficult to pin down, but we managed to grab her for a quick chat about her stand-up show. Entitled My, What I Call, Live Show, the DVD and Blu-Ray will be hitting the shelves in hmv stores from next week (Monday November 17th). We chatted to her about her first 'proper' stand-up experience, the differences between writing for stage and screen, and her favourite hecklers...
Your earlier live shows had been mostly character-based but this has been your first 'regular' stand-up show hasn't it? How have you found the experience?
"It was quite a thing going from 60 seater venues back in 2006 to an arena tour 7 years later. I am not going to lie – there was some nervous sweating occurring. There’s a nice image for you. But although it’s pretty gruelling physically, it was an extraordinary experience and one I am so glad I got the opportunity to do. In particular, to meet and be in the room with all the kind people who have supported me over the years."
Why did you decide the time was right to do a more straightforward stand-up tour?
"I was deciding after the third series of the sitcom whether to end it or whether I should do another series and I realised I needed a break away, do something different, and come back to it. And I got really excited creatively about writing and performing stand-up again. So it felt right."
Which do you prefer, performing on stage or in front of a studio audience?
"They are very different. Obviously with the studio audience for the sitcom you are also performing to the cameras and having to deal with the technicalities of making a television show, whereas stage is more pure. But I did miss my fellow actors on tour, so for that reason alone, I will say studio audience - they wouldn’t like it if I said I preferred being on my own!"
Do you think you'll do more stand-up in the future?
"I really hope so yes. I made the mistake of saying publicly I didn’t really like it straight after but that’s just because I was tired. And on reflection – yeah, why not and who knows, maybe I will do another tour one day."
Is the writing process very different for a live show, compared with the sitcom?
"Ooh, completely different yes. Why did I go ooh then? I don’t know. But ooh to the ooh. The sitcom is very structured as regards story line and obviously you have lots of characters to consider and write dialogue for. Whereas the live show is a little more freeing. You have more space to go in to anecdotes, you can be a bit more cheeky, tell some home truths, be a little more yourself. I preferred writing the live show."
Do you stick to the script or is there a lot of improvisation?
"I love improvising with the audience. It really keeps you on your toes, and I like to create an environment where it feels like it’s a party for both me and the audience. We are all in it together. Not just stand-up performing to a blank canvass. So yes, I try and improvise and interact with the audience. But there is a key script that is written."
And finally, do you get hecklers? What's the best / worst thing an audience member has said?
"I loved the man on the penultimate night who stood up in the second row and shouted very loudly “I have a question”. The whole arena went silent. We thought it was going to be a very exciting and important question and then he just said with his hand in the air “Please can I go to the toilet miss”. Lovely. So polite. I allowed him (as teacher) and then he galloped down the aisle. I loved him. I am pleased to say I have never had terrible hecklers and can’t really think of the worst thing. Boring but true. What can I say – I have the best audiences and fans. Thank you lovely people."
My, What I Call, Live Show, is available in hmv stores from Monday November 17th