The last time we spoke to Jayde Adams, she’d just won the Funny Women Awards. Two years on, we caught up her to find out what to expect from her new show at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe.
DIVA: We published an interview you did with Scottee after winning the Funny Women Awards final in 2014 -how do you feel about that win now?
Jayde Adams: Well, it’s an amazing thing that happened, because my career has taken off, if you will, since I won that award. I signed with an agent and then I’ve just gone from strength to strength. My current agent (or one of them) was actually at the awards so it happened pretty soon after.
Are you still working with Scottee?
I do the odd thing here and there with him. I think I’m booked in for New Year’s Eve with him. I don’t hear from Scottee for ages and then he’ll just send me a message going “ARE YOU FREE?” and then I’ll be like “yeah” and then we’ll just see loads of each other. We actually did a tour together at Christmas of his show Camp. It was loads of fun!
When did you first realise you could make comedy a career?
Well, I always tell the same story, which is: two things happened. I was working as a waitress in a cocktail bar… it was in Cardiff, which is definitely how the song goes. I was working with, well she’s my best friend now, and I was sort of just… not really knowing what I wanted to do. I was meandering through contemporary dance, a bit of acting, a bit of this a bit of that… I did lots of stuff. And then, to focus me, she said: “Well, what do you like doing?” and I said: “Well, above everything else, I love making people laugh.” Because whatever art form I was doing, I was always making people laugh in it. So she said: “Right. From now on, if anyone asks you what you do, you say you are a comedian.” And that’s what I started doing: I just started telling people I was a comedian, and then I started getting booked. Based on absolutely no experience in comedy at all. I blagged my way into it and then it sort of took off. I had a sister, who died. She was the thin popular one, and I was the fat funny one, and when we found out she was really ill, she asked me to make my family laugh because, um, everyone was very sad, obviously. And it was bothering her. So I sort of became the “Patch Adams” of my family, which is ironic, because my surname is Adams.
In your last interview in DIVA, you also mentioned the role your sister’s illness and unfortunate death played in your entry into comedy. Does she still inspire you today?
Well yeah, of course! But it’s been five years since she died, and I’m not as romantic as that anymore. I mean, lots of people inspire me to be funny. Like my parents, my friends. I have a very lovely support network of people who all find me funny. Also: the people who come to my shows! They’re all so bloody lovely and responsive and warm and supportive that, you know, I’ll just carry on doing it until people don’t find me funny anymore.
Aside from comedy, you have many other talents, can you tell us a little bit about that?
I was a dancer for 10 years. I used to do something called “freestyle disco dancing,” which is where you wear skintight lycra with diamantes all over it and you compete for three minutes at a time to very fast trance music. I wasn’t really built for it, so I didn’t really get very far. My sister was really good at it – I wasn’t, I was terrible. So there’s that. And I sing opera. I haven’t ever trained, but I discovered whilst ironing when I was 25 and living in London that I could sing and I just started doing it. Um, beatboxing… .I ‘m not a very good beatboxer, I just say that quite ironically, really. I’m just another white person that’s ‘beatboxing’. But I can make a couple of noises that sound remotely rhythmical. Rapping. Rapping’s just poetry said really fast. That’s it. I mean, I believe that anyone can do anything: We give ourselves limitations, and all of our situations give us limitations. Things we’ve grown up with, people that have affected us, they all give us limitations. But I think that if you can knock that on the head, you can do anything you want to do. It’s why I can do lots of different things. I bring all my ‘talents’ into my act. The show I’m doing at the moment, it’s called Jayde 31, is basically a show where I show off for an hour and I discuss ways in which I’ve been a dickhead and how that’s OK.
And is that the show you’re bringing to the Edinburgh Fringe this year?
Yeah! It’s uh… well, I’ve been told it’s really good! But we’ll see.
Can you tell us a bit more about that? How is it different to what we’ve seen from you before?
This one’s a lot more personal. It’s very autobiographical. I’m 31 and I’ve had quite a lot of stuff happen in my life, mainly because I just say yes to a lot of stuff and I end up in situations. And I’ve basically taken stories from my life. I’ve got enough material to last me three shows, which is handy. But I’ve taken sort of a few stories from my life to sort of illustrate a point, which is that: nothing matters! All of the things that we worry about, I mean… things do matter, but I think with a bit of silliness, and a bit of laughter, we can get through anything!
The poster for the show looks like a parody of Adele’s latest album, which reminded me that last year, you almost got pranked by her. Can you tell us a bit about that?
Well, I was a big fucking dickhead and I didn’t know that Adele was going to be there because the BBC were hiding it from us. They told us it was a tribute show, a show about acts that do tributes, so I went along and then they tried to get me to sign a form, which signed away my moral rights, and because I’m sort of entering into the world of acting and I’m doing quite a lot – I’m in Channel 5’s Borderline, I’m in a sitcom called Sick Notes with Nick Frost for Sky – I’m in quite a lot of stuff at the moment. And I couldn’t get ahold of my agent that weekend because they were doing other things so I sort of went with my gut. I was like, I shouldn’t be here, so I left. And then I posted this Facebook update that was all like “Yeah I left! I’m not signing away my moral rights!” And then two weeks later, my mum tells me to turn the telly on, and there she is with all the other Adeles, surprising them! It’s safe to say that I spent most of that day crying in my bedroom, asking myself WHY? But I have seen her, me and my mum and my dad and my best friend, we all went to Manchester to see her.
You’re a big Adele fan then?
I am. I mean, I’ve either got to be a fan or I’ve got to hate her. She’s a working class, larger girl who doesn’t give no fucks, and she’s got an amazing voice and she’s really funny, and if I didn’t love her, I’d hate her. Because she’s 27 and she’s already done it. But no, I am a big fan. Don’t call this “I hate Adele” by the way, I love Adele. I love everything about her. I love her music, she’s an amazing presence for working class people in this country, I think she’s really bridging a gap in the arts. Because there’s a massive unfair advantage in the arts. You’ve got to be related to someone famous or come from money because that’s the only way to afford to do it now. There was a statistic in the Observer recently that showed something ridiculous like 60% of people in the arts come from privileged backgrounds, and I think that someone like Adele is really bridging that gap. She comes from a single parent family in London and, you know, she gives no shits.
Is that similar to your own background?
Well, I’m from Bristol. My mum works at Asda, my dad works at Airbus, which is a local, Bristol plant for making aeroplanes, and he’s been there for 30 years. We didn’t grow up with loads of money. I mean, mum and dad always put us first but we didn’t have like cash to throw around or anything like that when I was growing up. I didn’t go to stage school, I didn’t go to drama school, I didn’t do any of that stuff. And I don’t know if that was insecurity or finances… but there is a way to get into the arts that isn’t necessarily with money. So yeah, I would say that I come from a working class background.
Did you have any particular comedy role models when you were growing up?
Dawn French! Also Victoria Wood and Julie Walters… but mainly Dawn French. She was my queen when I was younger, and I had the pleasure of getting a phone call from her once. She phoned me up to tell me that she thought I was great, and that she wanted to help me with my career if I need any help and she was a big fan of me! It was like Jesus phoning me, if I was Christian.
To what extent does your sexuality enter into your comedy? Do you think it’s important that lesbian and bi performers bring their sexuality into their acts?
I’m quite fluid with my sexuality – I don’t like to give myself labels. Because I think when we start labelling things, we stop. So I have never given myself a label. I don’t even really like referring to myself as a female comedian… I’m just a funny person. And my experiences are based on the person that I am, not my gender or my sexuality or who I have sex with or who I sleep with. My show, I hope, doesn’t fall into categories that a lot of comedians sort of fall into. I mean, you get lesbian comedians and their material is based on that type. With me, my material is based on my experiences as a human being rather than my experiences as a woman, or as a bisexual woman. But I think people should do whatever they need to do in order to get by. I don’t like to tell people how they should live their lives, I don’t believe that people should be like me in order to succeed. I don’t think that there should be anyone in the entire world that should tell them they shouldn’t have the life that they want to. As long as you’re not killing people, or raping people, or a paedophile, I think you should just go about your life, and do what the fuck you want!
What can we expect from you in the near future? You’re doing Edinburgh, then what’s next?
I’m doing Edinburgh, and then I hope to do a tour of Australasia. So Australia: Sydney and Adelaide, and I’d like to go to the New Zealand comedy festival next year as well. The plan is that I do Edinburgh and then there will be a tour in the sort of Autumn or Spring of next year and I’ll continue to do the show into 2017 as well. I don’t have a big following over there but I’m hoping to increase it. I did Melbourne comedy festival for a short while last year with another show. I did a compilation show and I really love it over there. I’m a British person but it’s international. I would be a good international act. I like to push myself. I’ve got a certain following over here and it would be very easy for me to stick around in the UK but I like to push myself: I don’t want to just stay here, I want to be global. I travel with my work as well, like, me going on holiday I find it difficult to relax because I always feel like I’m missing out, or not doing something I should be doing so I like to travel with work.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m working with the King Bert, a production company who are owned by David Walliams and Miranda Hart and I’m developing a script with them for Channel 4. I’ve just had a small part in a sitcom with Nick Frost as I’ve said. I’m working with Lucy Lumsden who was Head of Sky Comedy – I’m working on a project with her at the moment, and I’m working with Hat Trick on another project with Paul Doolan who’s a writer, who writes on Trollied. Oh, and for the Lucy Lumsden thing I’m working with Abby Wilson who writes Trollied as well. I’m also going to Canada, I’m doing Bestival Inflatable Church in a couple of weeks time and… there’s just so much! I’m gigging a lot, doing lots and lots of previews, like at least 12 before I go up to Edinburgh.
What other acts are you hoping to catch when you’re there?
Spencer Jones, he’s great. He was my favourite act of last year and it’s a travesty that he wasn’t nominated for an award, because actually he’s brilliant. Kiri Pritchard-McLean, as well, she’s a stand up comedian as well and a good friend of mine. Also, Kieran Hodgson, and Stephen Bailey: he’s a comic that’s going to be up there and he and I usually share a bed together, although this year we’ve got a two-bed flat! But for the last three years, he and I have been sharing a bed to save money. You tend to do that in Edinburgh.
Finally, what are you watching or listening to at the moment? Is there anything you’d like to recommend to our readers?
I’ve got things that I watch that aren’t specifically comedy. If I watch comedy, what ends up happening is that if you really like it, it gets into you and I try to be as unique as I can be in my comedy. But I love shows like Orphan Black and Game of Thrones, and I like Chelsea Handler, because she’s funny and she’s another woman who doesn’t give a shit.
See Jayde in her new show, Jayde 31, at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Voodoo Rooms, French Quarter, 6-29 August, 10.30pm, or catch one of her previews.
6 June PREVIEW – Hen & Chickens, Islington, 9:30
21 June – PREVIEW – Colchester @ Brew Ha Ha, Queen Street Brew House
22 June – PREVIEW – The Duchess of Cambridge (320 Goldhawk Road, Stamford Brook, Greater London, W6 0XF
23 June – PREVIEW – Hackney Showroom (dinner and comedy night with Herbal Kitchen) 7pm – 10pm (Tix: £22 fromticketsource.co.uk)
26 June – PREVIEW – Cafe Jazz, Cardiff
10 July – PREVIEW Cornbury Music Festival
11 July – PREVIEW – Schadenfreude Cabaret The Harrison, London
14 July PREVIEW Balham Comedy Festival, The Bedford
16 July PREVIEW The Good Ship Benefit with Funny Women, Embankment
See jaydeadams.com for more details.
Image: Stephanie Sian Smith
Styling: Nina Ribena