Hannah Brackenbury is #Victorious at Brighton Fringe Awards!
The comedy singer-songwriter chats Victory, top tips for budding comedians, and Pride 🎶
Hannah Brackenbury at Brighton Fringe
Musical comedy extraordinaire, Hannah Brackenbury, is still celebrating after winning the prestigious Best Of The Festival Award at this year’s Brighton Fringe for her sell-out Victoria Wood tribute show, Victorious.
Here, Eveline Vouillemin catches up with the Great Yarmouth native to see if the buzz has worn off or if she's still feeling, VICTORIOUS!
DIVA: How does it feel to have won (the prestigious!) Broadway Baby Bobby Award?
HANNAH BRACKENBURY: It still hasn’t really sunk in, it was totally unexpected! There were so many incredible shows at this year’s Brighton Fringe, so just to be nominated for an award was a huge honour, but to win was a real shock.
The fact that the winning show was chosen by professional critics and reviewers made it all the more special for me. I’d really put my heart and soul into the show and the award is a lovely recognition of that.
Still hasn't quite sunk in yet! Best of the Fringe for 'Victorious' - a joyful and poignant musical tribute to the late, great Victoria Wood #broadwaybaby #bobbyaward #BrightonFringe https://t.co/JFvFYZttio pic.twitter.com/zDmkCWl9lt— Hannah Brackenbury (@hbbrighton) June 10, 2018
Why was it so important for you to pay tribute to Victoria Wood?
She's always been a major influence and people have often compared my style to her's, which is always very flattering. I’d been performing her songs for years but when she died it was heartbreaking and I felt a bit uncomfortable about carrying on with it - I wasn’t sure if it was the right thing to do.
After a year or so though, I started getting more and more requests so it seemed like the right time to put together a proper show to celebrate just what a genius she was.
How long did it take you to create the show?
I developed the concept for the show late last year and basically spent January and February hibernating, working my way through her back catalogue, and learning more of her songs. The idea to tie the songs together with poems came a little later.
It was something I’d never done before but thankfully, it worked really well. The project really did consume my life for three or four months, but it was worth every minute. I’m really proud of it.
I've just updated my website with a new page all about Victorious at Brighton Fringe! Hoping to line up some new dates in Brighton and London in July, then - fingers crossed - maybe a UK tour in the autumn/winter??!! #VictoriaWood #tribute #musicalcomedyhttps://t.co/GkW8SktozS— Hannah Brackenbury (@hbbrighton) June 14, 2018
At what age did you decide you wanted to become a comedian and what tips would you give to aspiring female and LGBTQ+ comedians?
Throughout my 20s I performed as a regular singer-songwriter, but it wasn’t until I turned 30 and moved to Brighton that I decided to have a go at musical comedy. I’d been a fan of Victoria's since my teens, but never quite felt clever or confident enough to tackle comedy. Instead, it just sort of "happened" and I've never looked back.
I think my top tip is simply - gig as much as possible, and take every opportunity you can get. On the comedy circuit they say it takes seven years to really develop your act and to feel truly confident on stage, and actually that's been pretty accurate for me. Open mic nights can be terrifying when you’re first starting out but you have to remember that every successful comedian out there had to start somewhere, usually at exactly that sort of gig!
If you have a bad gig and your set falls flat, don’t dwell on it, learn from it. You’ll know how to handle a similar situation if it happens again. As with any type of art, it just takes time and practice.
How are you feeling about performing at Pride events this summer?
I’m really excited! I was lucky enough to be given a spot at Pride In London after reaching the final of the Pride’s Got Talent Cabaret competition back in April. The spot at Norwich Pride will be extra special as it’s not far from my home town of Great Yarmouth, so I’ll have some family and friends coming along to watch.
Plus, it’s the 10th Norwich Pride, and I performed for them back in 2010 when it was only just getting started, so it’s lovely to be invited back again and to see just how much the event has grown.
Which has been your most memorable Pride to date and why?
I’m a member of Brighton’s Rainbow Chorus LGBT choir and in 2016, we were lucky enough to perform at a choir festival in Amsterdam which coincided with EuroPride 2016. I’d never been to Amsterdam before and it was an amazing experience, not only to be performing there but to be able to take part in the Pride celebrations too!
The parade took place on the water with over one hundred floats making their way around the canals of Amsterdam. It was really quite spectacular.
Do you have a dream festival or venue you’d love to perform at?
I would have to say the Royal Albert Hall. One of my favourite Victoria Wood DVDs is of her solo show there in 2001 and to have the chance to perform on one of the same stages as her would be a huge honour, especially one with so much history.
If you could choose any comedian or musician to tour or collaborate with who would it be - and why?
My other big influence in comedy is Tim Minchin, an Australian comedian and all-round genius who not only writes and performs musical comedy, but is also an actor, director and is a concert pianist! I think I could almost certainly learn a thing or two from him if we had the chance to hang out...
And finally, what's your go-to lez/bi culture-themed gag?
I don’t really do gags, per se, but I do have a couple of lesbian-themed songs! One is a very old song I wrote when I was just starting out called, The L Word, which mixes up coming out to your parents as a librarian rather than a lesbian. The other is the song I am probably best known for which is my Taylor Swift parody.
GFW Clothing have even produced a Cats Together t-shirt, #livingmybestlife! [This will make mutch more sense if you watch the video above]
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