Edinburgh Fringe: Naomi Petersen interview

Naomi Petersen is agoraphobic and living in her performance venue. But it’s the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, so she’s got to do a show about it. Is today the day she’ll finally pluck up the courage to walk out the door? Hilariously inventive, warm-hearted character comedy. As seen on E4’s Drifters, and in smash-hit improv supergroup The Free Association. AAA caught up with Naomi earlier this week for a chat.

How has your Fringe been so far?

It’s been an emotional rollercoaster with a side order of greasy carbs. But the show’s going well!

Tell us about the show you’re in…

The premise is that I’m living in my performance venue because I’m agoraphobic. So I’ve got to do a show about it. It’s a big-hearted, silly hour of storytelling, character comedy, improv and songs that partly stems from my own experiences with anxiety.  It will make you laugh, but you might also get a lump in your throat.

What’s the audience reaction been like?

Really lovely. The best shows are always when people are happy to embrace the ridiculousness. I had a big group of lads in today and I was worried they weren’t going to go for a comedy play about anxiety but they were amazing. Thanks guys!

 When did you realise you were funny?

Hmmm. There was no Eureka moment. I used to recite Red Dwarf quotes down the phone to my friends aged 6 or 7 so I think the passion for comedy has always been there.

Were you the class clown?

Definitely not. I was the class goody goody. Once I eventually went through puberty aged 17 people gradually started to laugh with me instead of at me.

Can comedians get away with saying things no one else can?

Yes, as long as they do so with care. I would say that comedy can be a really good platform for discussing sensitive issues. Laughter has a way of connecting people, drawing them in and allowing them to share an experience so there’s a real sense of acceptance and more delicate subjects are no longer taboo.

Was there a comedian who inspired you?

Harry Hill was my first ever live gig as a child and I was blown away. I didn’t know it was possible to laugh so much.

Are there any other shows on this year’s you’d recommend?

There’s an improv show every night till the 21st at 11pm at The Pleasance called Jacuzzi (Spoiler Alert: I’m in that too, but it’s legitimately great!).

I still haven’t seen that much but Zoe Coombs Marr’s show is astonishingly brilliant. Also Sarah Kendall and Max and Ivan.

What’s on your hit-list to see?

Richard Gadd’s my next stop, then Kieran Hodgson. But I’ve got a list about five miles long.

What do you like to do in Edinburgh on your day off?

I haven’t decided yet! I want to do Arthur’s Seat but will inevitably be a bit hungover and go and see a couple of shows.

Can you recommend a bar or restaurant in Edinburgh?

Kampong Ah Lee on Clerk Street. 

What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen this year?

Show wise I’ve got a few curveballs in the diary for later in the run so watch this space. Otherwise the shower in my flat is pretty strange. It’s right next to the bed.

 Sell your show in no more than ten words….

A funny, silly, touching story – you’re gonna love it, promise!

Naomi Petersen: I am Telling You I’m Not Going, Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33), 3.30pm, until 28 Aug, www.edfringe.com

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