JENNIE BENTON SMITH meets SUSAN HARRISON

In which I interview one of my characters, Jennie Benton Smith.

Jennie headshot by Idil Sukan

SH: Hi Jennie.

JBS: Yo word up!

SH: Jennie, I know you’re from Tunbridge Wells but could you tell us where you originated from… comedically speaking?

JBS: Erm….from your head!!! Slam dunked….

SH: Ok well maybe I should tell you where you came from?

JBS: Yeah that makes more sense.

SH: Ok. So you started out as a character in a sketch group called Triple Threat. Triple Threat was a spoof of reality TV talent shows & in the sketch group were lots of great people, many of whom are still doing comedy today. We took Triple Threat to Edinburgh and it was a baptism of fire, albeit a soggy, rain soaked fire. There were trips to A&E, drunken fallings out, artistic differences, several cases of severe laryngitis and a grumpy Steve Bennet review on Day One. If we’d been playing “young sketch group first-timers Bingo” we’d have got a full house.

JBS: Sounds a bit like the time me and my friends shared a spliff at Woodcraft Folk Camp and suffered from severe paranoid delusions.

SH: Yeah, it was a bit like that I guess. Anyway, after we’d recovered, I started being you at open spots.

JBS: What’s an open spot?

SH: Doing an “open spot” usually means doing a 5 minute unpaid set at a comedy night. It’s a great way to try out material, learn your craft and hang out at the back of an almost empty room with socially awkward people.

JBS: Oh right. Sounds like the time me and my best friend Auburn Joe did some poetry-beat-boxing at a Ceilidh.

SH: Yeah it does sound a tiny bit like that.

JBS: Although at the Ceilidh there was a Caller, which is the name of the person who explains and introduces all the dances. He wore a trilby and thought he was still young and was a bit pervy to the female musicians who he referred to as FEMALE musicians.

SH: Oh. Actually it sounds exactly like that.

Susan Harrison headshot by Anna Hull

JBS: So what happened after you’d been me at the open spots?

SH: Well I did that for a while and then I moved on to other things and other characters. No offence.

JBS: None taken Poop Head!!

SH: Anyway, I wanted to give you your own Edinburgh show because I wanted to do a show that had a through-line and I thought you were the best candidate/character I’d done so far for that.

JBS: Better than Mina the Horse?

SH: Yeah. She was sort of a –

JBS: – One trick pony?

SH: Yep.

JBS: Better than Ariel the angry elderly mermaid?

SH: Yeah. She was a bit –

JBS: – Washed up?

SH: Yep.

JBS: Better than the baby Loch Ness monster?

SH: Yeah. She was….

JBS: A baby Loch Ness monster?

SH: Yep.

JBS: Hm…

SH: So anyway, I wanted to give you your own show because I wanted to write something with heart to it and to explore your friendship with Auburn Joe. So I did.

JBS: Thanks. It’s been really sick actually, taking a show to Edinburgh!

SH: Did you enjoy it?

JBS: Yes times one hundred!!! I met loads of brilliant people, saw three grown men do a wee during my show, met a man who’d been on Countdown and lots of people were nice to me. On Black Wednesday I did a show to three men who were the same age as my Dad – two of whom were reviewers (exciting or what!!) people sent me lovely tweets, and the whole thing was nang-tastic! Did you enjoy it?

SH: Yeah. I met lots of great people, saw three grown men do a wee……

JBS: And work-wise I bet more people know about you now because we got some well good reviews!

SH: Well actually I think some more people might know more about you, but not necessarily more about me.

JBS: Really?

SH: Yeah. I got two emails addressed to “Dear Jennie” from technical/production people in the venue, a man at a gig asked someone who was helping me what school I went to (he said “ask Susan” and they looked at him blankly), a reviewer said to my face “Hi Jennie can I ask you some questions?”, and a friend trying to find my show asked a Front of House person where Susan Harrison’s show was and they said it definitely wasn’t on in my venue….

JBS: Oh my god they totally thought you were me! That’s so confusing!

SH: Yes. Very.

JBS: Well I expect this interview will help clear things up.

SH: Definitely.

Susan Harrison will be being Jennie In “Jennie Benton Wordsmith” for one last time at The Museum of Comedy on Tuesday 13th October at 7:00pm. Be there to wave them off!

Jennie Benton Wordsmith is written by Susan Harrison, directed by Beckie Mills and co-stars Dylan Kennedy.
Technical support and the role of technician – Tom Clutterbuck
Additional beats by Rob Grundel.

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