In which I interview one of my characters, Jennie Benton Smith.
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.
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?
JBS: Better than Ariel the angry elderly mermaid?
SH: Yeah. She was a bit –
JBS: – Washed up?
JBS: Better than the baby Loch Ness monster?
SH: Yeah. She was….
JBS: A baby Loch Ness monster?
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.
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.
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.