The Fringe sometimes feels like a sea of talented people
trying to get noticed, and making a dent in today’s super-competitive
industry seems massively daunting. But many well-known comedians still
cut their teeth at the festival, so how do they do it? We catch up with
comedian and writer Rosie Holt, winner of The Sitcom Trials 2013, and find out about what it takes.
Tell us about your new Fringe show…
It is my first solo stand up show! We often hear from male comics
about the dark underbelly of sex, but not enough from the females, which
is a shame as I think women are gloriously insane. My show covers the
anxieties of sex with the help of some very silly songs (you can find my
‘UnSafe Sex Song’ on YouTube) I think the ukulele lends itself nobly to very dirty lyrics.
How did you start out in comedy acting and writing?
I trained as a ‘serious’ actor at LAMDA
and never considered comedy or writing as a career at all. Then a year
or so after graduating I had a bad one night stand and wrote a sketch
about it to cheer me up. I was working at an Orwellian reception with a
lovely man called Clayton and he read it and suggested we make it and
put it on YouTube – so we did and people responded well and I thought
I’d carry on with it. Now I can’t imagine not doing comedy, I love it.
How long have you been coming to the Fringe and how have your shows changed?
The first time I came to the Fringe was when I was 18, doing
Shakespeare at midnight (not an easy sell) but I fell in love with the
whole festival and it remains one of my favourite places on the planet. I
have been up many times since (sometimes doing very dodgy plays
indeed), but last year was the first time I went up with my own show and
as a result it was a much more exciting (and terrifying) experience.
Tell me about the Sitcom Trials. What sorts of things has it led to?
The Sitcom Trials was great. We had to write a short sitcom episode
and perform it on stage, and then had to pass through various
nerve-wracking rounds in front of a live audience. Winning it scored me
my own show at The Gilded Balloon
last year and various acting and writing opportunities. It also gave me
the necessary confidence boost to plug on with my comedy.
Has winning the Sitcom Trials made coming to the Fringe any easier?
I don’t know yet! Last year I had written a comedy show with four
other actors in it and this year it’s just me, so that brings new
How have you found developing a one-woman show in comparison to the four-strong act?
It’s definitely a very different beast but I am loving it. When you
are acting with other people you can bounce off them and there is a
wonderful camaraderie, but it is nice only being responsible for myself
as I am rather neurotic by nature so would worry terribly if an actor
was unhappy or something. Also there is something thrilling about it
just being you and the audience. I’ve done a few solo gigs now and it’s
What do you think are the most important factors in
developing a comedy performance/writing career today and how big a role
has the Fringe played in it for you?
Persistence and getting yourself out there as much as possible. There
are so many opportunities to get into comedy now – open mike nights,
competitions, YouTube, Twitter. Explore them all! I love that this is an
industry that favours those who put the hours in. Also I think you
shouldn’t be afraid of trying and erm…dying. It happens to the best of
Like many performers, you were caught up in venue problems with the Free Fringe – what happened there?
Oh golly, whenever I try to explain it to people I go cross-eyed.
Very public disagreement on who had the licence for the venues all
played out over social media. So we were told we’d lost our venues, then
we hadn’t, then we had again. Now I am at a new venue and a new slot
and it is not what is advertised in the brochure. I am planning to sing
rude songs on the ukulele on the Royal Mile so that my lost audience
follow me like the pied piper to Frankenstein (where I am performing).
Your characters can be pretty hapless – what’s the most embarrassing thing that’s happened to you at Edinburgh?
I once was in an abysmal play which we were so embarrassed by that we
would experience intense guilt whenever we fliered someone who then
came. One night we had four audience members and two walkouts.
Have you got any advice for developing comedy writers thinking of coming to the Fringe?
Do it! See everything! And make sure you eat something green!
And lastly, will you have time to see any shows yourself and is there anything you’ve particularly got your eye on?
I adore Tim Key,
I want to marry him. He is doing a work in progress tour and I will be
there on the front row looking manic (in a good way obviously)
Rosie Holt: (No) Strings Attached is @ Frankenstein Pub from Fri 7 Aug 2015 @ 17:30