Julie Jepson: Doing stand up is like going sky diving
The brilliant comedian tells us what she loves about performing and why she once had to break up a physical fight onstage
Stand up comedian Julie Jepson keeps audiences in stitches with her engaging performance style, relatable material and hilarious characters. We're big fans here at DIVA HQ. In fact, you might have heard Julie chatting away with Heather Peace and Rosie Wilby in a recent episode of Radio DIVA. (If you didn't catch the original broadcast, you can listen here now.) We couldn't wait to find out more about this brilliant comic. But before we get to that, here's a little taster of Julie in action.
DIVA: Describe your act for people who haven’t seen you.
JULIE JEPSON: Funny! I’m a cheeky Northerner and my stand up has a broad appeal. I use all sorts of things as inspiration for material; family, home, relationships, work, holidays, driving, daft things I’ve heard people say and coming out. I also perform as three different comedy characters; Juanita Martinez Conchitez Fernandez from Barcelona, Shannon Crabsticks the Irish-ish mermaid with shipping forecast tourettes and Pearl, a dog breeder from Essex who is famous for her meat raffles.
How long have you been performing and what made you start?
I’ve been performing stand up comedy for twelve years now and the thing that made me start was wanting to experience the electricity which occurs when you say something funny and a room full of people laugh. I’d discovered this whilst at drama school and was playing a stand up comic, Kate, in Unsuitable For Adults by Terry Johnson. I got to deliver brilliantly written monologues and the audience loved it. I was hooked! I’d always wanted to be an actor but experiencing the incredible buzz of stand up meant it was only a matter of time before I pursued it seriously.
That's brilliant. So what was your first ever gig like?
Compering at a comedy club above a bike shop in Exeter. I can only liken the feeling to sky diving! A bag of nerves before and totally exhilarated during, followed by a high which lasted several days!
What was your life like before you started doing comedy?
Care free! I was having a great time living in Exeter in Devon, working at an Arts Centre. Busy social life and lots of laughing at work and in the pub with my mates! Exploring the Westcountry on my motorbike and lots of camping at the local surf spots. I didn’t have a care in the world!
Tell us a few of your favourite comedians.
I was brought up on a diet of Victoria Wood and French & Saunders. I still haven’t recovered from the loss of Victoria Wood. She was it for me, her language, her rhythm, her Northerness and humility in her writing. As Julie Walters said, “An incalculable loss”. I also really admire Eddie Izzard and Zoe Lyons and love the way they physicalise their stories. When I was little I used to listen to recordings of Jasper Carrott and when I got my first Walkman the only tape I had was of The Comedians and I would listen to it over and over again. I’m sure that listening to the rhythm and timing and delivery of gags has had a subliminal influence on my writing.
What’s the best part of performing comedy?
Getting a good reaction for a brand new idea. Nothing beats the feeling of the very first time you deliver new material and it works! It’s also a fantastic way to see the country and the world and meet lots of interesting people.
What’s the worst?
Trying to constantly come up with new material! It never gets any easier.
Do you have any particularly memorable gig stories you can share with us?
In the early days of my career I used to host Funnyhaha! in Brighton and one night one of the comics almost got into a physical fight with a member of the audience. I had to come back on stage and calm it down and get the gig back on track! I definitely earned a stripe that night.
What are your tips for aspiring comedians?
Always carry a notebook with you, you won’t remember that hilarious thing you saw, heard or thought of when you get home! Participate as fully as you can in everything and always keep your eyes and ears open! Get as much experience as you can as it takes a while to find your voice. Take risks. If something doesn’t go over the way you would have liked, forget about it and put your energy into what you’re doing right now. Record your set, you learn loads from listening back and if you came up with a great line in the moment you can build it in. Enjoy it!
Finally, what can you tell us about your upcoming comedy festival in the Isles of Scilly?
Scilly Laughs will be happening in June from 9th-13th in Penzance and the Isles of Scilly, which are 28 miles off the coast of Cornwall. The Isles of Scilly are absolutely stunning! It’s an incredibly beautiful place, my favourite place on the planet. For the third year I will be introducing three top quality comedians as we perform on four islands in four days. St. Mary’s on Saturday 10th, Tresco on Sunday 11th, St. Martin’s on Monday 12th and St. Agnes on Tuesday 13th June. We are very generously supported by Isles of Scilly Travel who sail us there and back on the Scillonian from Penzance and are celebrating its 40th year of faithful service. It’s a fantastic cruise along the Cornish coast past smuggling caves and the Minack Theatre carved out of the granite cliffs and is an amazing way to arrive in the islands. You can also fly and get a spectacular view of the islands in the crystal clear waters.
We’re very well received as there is very little entertainment on Scilly and our show is brilliant! Islanders and visitors are so generous and in our first two years we have raised over £1000 for Cornwall Air Ambulance with a raffle at each show. Last year we performed on the most South Westerly island, St. Agnes, which has a population of 82 and we had 106 people at the gig! This year will feature Musical Comedy Award finalist Hannah Brackenbury. Richard Vranch who you may know from Whose Line Is It Anyway? and Craig Deeley whose very funny, quick, observational style is winning fans everywhere he plays. For more details check out Scilly Laughs on facebook and @scillylaughs on twitter. Tickets for all shows will be available on the door £10. Each island will sell tickets in advance, check our facebook page for details. Tickets for Penzance are available from crbo.co.uk £11 For accommodation visit visitislesofscilly.co.uk.
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