Tuesday 21 August 2012 | By Chris Cooke
DeAnne Smith: The sweet life
Canadian-American comedian DeAnne Smith is back in Edinburgh promising her audience the “sweet life” treatment. And some songs. And some candy. What more could you possibly ask for? DeAnne spoke to ThreeWeeks about her show, her uke and her bus pass. Though not necessarily in that order.
CC: According to my in-depth research (well, Wikipedia), you started doing stand-up aged 25. What made you want to start to perform comedy in your mid-twenties?
DS: I was actually a smidge older than that, but I don’t mind Wikipedia’s misinformation in this case. I started comedy for the same reasons anyone starts comedy: because I have an insatiable need for attention and approval. Oh, and a desire to share joy with others. Yes, that’s it. Mostly the joy thing.
CC: You’re based in Montreal which, like Edinburgh, is closely associated with comedy because of its festival – what is the comedy scene like there year round?
DS: Because the English-speaking population of Montreal is so small, the comedy scene isn’t too big when the festival isn’t on, which means it’s a really nice, tight-knit community. Everyone collaborates with each other and there are some fantastic little indie rooms. I run a few comedy shows when I’m in town: Stand Up / Strip Down (comedy and burlesque), Royal Riot and Freedom Nation. It’s a nice place to spend the four or five months of the year I’m not touring.
CC: Tell us about your current show.
DS: One of my favourite things about my current show is that each time I choose one audience member to give some “sweet life” treatment to. It’s fun, because it makes every show a bit different. I won’t reveal what it entails, but I will say, you should sit in the front row! I never pick on my front row. But that second row better watch out.
CC: Where did the idea for the show come from?
DS: The title for the show grew out of a thought I had after buying a weekly bus pass. I’ve been trying to be more optimistic. After I bought the weekly pass, as I was thinking about how I now didn’t have to count my rides and I could traverse the city willy-nilly for a week, a little voice in my head said, “Weekly bus pass? Livin’ the sweet life!” and I thought, “Really? I’m glad you’re optimistic now, but let’s aim a little higher, brain. Let’s still have goals and ambitions. It’s just a weekly bus pass”.
CC: How has it been going so far?
DS: It’s been great! My tech even bought me a portable ukulele stand today, so my uke doesn’t fall off the table during shows any more. Livin’ the sweet life!
CC: You mentioned the touring. You seem to perform a lot in Australia – is that deliberate, and what is the audience like there?
DS: I started going to Australia to perform their festival circuit in 2008, and it’s always so wonderful, I can’t stop going back! In 2012, I played five festivals there and did five weeks of touring with the Melbourne Comedy Festival Road Show. The audience is like they are in Edinburgh: comedy-savvy and quick to laugh. Maybe Australians are a little more sunburnt and slightly less drunk.
CC: Have you managed to avoid the infamous Fringe Flu so far, and if so, what’s your health regime when at the Festival?
DS: I have! As a gluten-free vegan (I feel like it’s blasphemous to say that in this country – is someone going to threaten to deep fry and eat me?) my health regime is just my regular life. I’ve been running and going to yoga as well. And trying to keep the random number of chicks I make out with under 50, unlike last Fringe. (Okay, last Fringe it was zero. But I didn’t want to sound too boring).
CC: You also mentioned the ukulele. It seems like we could hold a Uke Convention at the Fringe these days; why do you think the instrument has become so popular again?
DS: You could hold a Uke Convention at the Fringe! And Tricity Vogue kind of does just that, with her wonderful Ukulele Cabaret. Maybe the instrument is so popular because it’s small and easy. Incidentally, that’s also the reason Snooki is so popular.
CC: Your flyer also promises candy. Is it British candy, or did you bring it with you from home?
DS: You’ll have to come to the show to find out! (It’s much better to say that than that I got it at Sainsbury’s.) Oh, the mystery!
DeAnne Smith’s show ‘Livin’ The Sweet Life’ was performed at Gilded Balloon Teviot at Fringe 2012.
Photo: Stuart Armitt