You often see the phrase “working class girl done good” but, the case of Chatham-born Kelly Convey this really is the case so, ahead of her Edinburgh Fringe debut in August, we spoke to Kelly about her working class background and how getting pissed changed her life!
1. Thanks for your time. You’ve got your debut at Edinburgh coming up, how are you feeling about it?
“Yeah, it’s my big debut coming up in August. It’s one of those things comedians have got to work towards and I’m going through a mixture of excitement and pure dread. I’m really looking forward to it but I also can’t wait to get it out of the way. It’s going to be all of my material that I’ve been building up to since I started about three years. It’s me saying “Here I am, this is me!” so I’m quite excited about it.”
2. What are you expecting from Edinburgh?
“Going around doing stand-up I absolutely love it, I do it pretty much every night of the week but it’s completely different in Edinburgh because you get to say your message whereas when you’re performing a twenty-set in a club, yes, people want to hear about your life but they’re more there for the jokes. Edinburgh is my life to that point and me talking about how I got there and who I am. I’m really looking forward to telling my story because where I’m coming from it’s a positive celebration of being working class and where I come from. Sometimes, being working class can be used as a scapegoat or a negative thing in a this is my struggle kind of tale. Essentially my story is that by saying I come from Chatham and I made something of myself but, at the same time, if I hadn’t come from Chatham I wouldn’t be where I am today. Instead of it holding me back, it’s probably the best thing that’s happened to me.”
3. At this stage in your career, how important is it to have a successful Edinburgh ?
“I think it’s very important in terms of getting your name out there and being seen by a large amount of people who are watching just you every single night and building a fanbase and also getting seen by the TV execs who go up there to the shows. You also get the critical acclaims and I haven’t had proper write-ups about my work yet so I think that’s really key. In a more general sense, I work every day of the year almost so, even if this didn’t happen, I’d still be working every day and there is a thriving scene out there. Edinburgh is different though – it’s a platform to really shout who you are and make a noise whereas the rest of my working year is just about making people laugh. It’s just a whole different beast to the rest of the game.”
4. What can Edinburgh expect from you?
“I think it’s a story and a show that they probably haven’t seen before including a few points I’m making about looking positively at Chavs. Looking positively at a class that is slightly demonized that I want to celebrate and say there is lots of benefits to being working class. It’s a ballsy show full of laughs. I know at Edinburgh people look for the message and the theme and try to look at what you’re trying to say but, as I said, my main goal as a comedian is to make people laugh. Funny first, deep meaningful message second!”
5. Talking about that message, could you tell us a bit about your life upto you taking up stand-up?
“I grew up in Chatham and I’m from a really large family. I’m one of six and my Dad is one of seven. I come from a really large, really working class family. Just your average Southern family. I was quite rebellious at school, a bit of an attention seeker, a bit of a smoker, a bit of a bunker. I didn’t really have any ambitions – I was just kind of going along with whatever was thrown at me. I think I was going to become something like a hairdresser. There was a bit of a change when I passed my exams because I wasn’t really expecting to and that changed my view point by having faith in myself and drive. Then it all changed, I went to University and I was the first person in my family, well, in Chatham. I’d lived in this bubble of Chatham all my life then I went to London to University and it was almost like a bubble bath. It opened my eyes and I completely changed. I got a job straight out of Uni working in the TV industry – working for Fox TV for seven years buying TV shows – my team created The Walking Dead, American Horror Story and things like that.”
“I was doing that high-profile corporate role for seven years and then I won a competition on Expedia to travel the UK for a year. I was travel-writing for a year then I was doing wine writing when I started stand-up. About three open mic nights in I loved it and I knew I wanted to do it then basically I got fired from my wine job for getting so drunk at one of the business trips which is massively frowned upon. They fired me and that pushed me into stand-up so I threw myself into it and, after a year I got signed to Off The Kerb and it all took off from there. That is essentially what the show is gearing towards, I was always an outsider in the wine industry and the TV and Travel industry – they were all a bit high brow for me and then this moment where I was at this conference and my complete inner chav unleashed. I don’t remember any of it and the only reason I do is because of my Snapchat story the next day – it was pretty horrendous. In a wierd sort of way it was the best thing that happened to me because that inner delinquent came out it saved me from a job that would have probably turned me into an alcoholic while forcing my hand into stand-up comedy. Now I’m loving it, it’s my full time job, I’m supporting Russell Kane on tour and going to Edinburgh, it complete changed my living. Being a chav was my saving!”
6. You’ve been doing a job you love now for three years, what has been your favourite moment so far ?
“About a year and half in I went up to Edinburgh to do a couple of slots, not the full run, for Off The Kerb and I performed at a Charity Gala there at the Edinburgh Playhouse in front of about three thousand people. That to me was a real defining moment as, before I went on stage, I was almost passing out with nerves because I was so new and so out of my comfort zone, then I went on and had a great time. I came off and said to myself “ooh, you can do this”, it was a really moment where I realised I’d got this and I should go for it.”
7. Three years as a stand-up, how do you feel you’ve changed as a person and a comedian?
“I’ve been a lot more accepting of who I am and where I’m from. This is the first job where I couldn’t hide behind a posh accent when you go up on stage you are completely bare and turned thirty that year. I realised that in the thirteen years I’d moved to London, I was always trying to be the person that the other person wanted me to be and not myself. Comedy has brought out that honesty, happy with who I am, I’m in my thirties and I’m not changing any time soon side of me. My comedy has become a lot broader and a lot more accessible. When I started comedy I was just filthy, it was all blue and all sex-related. They in stand-up you start with your bits then you go to your heart then you go to your head. So, you start out with all the crude stuff because it’s easy to get a laugh then you start to move to your heart and talk about what you care about. I’d say I’m at my ribcage.”
8. What did your family and friends think when you got fired and moved into comedy ?
“My dad thought I was an idiot but they all kind of thought it made sense. For the first few stand-up gigs I thought I was the next big thing straight away so I filmed them and put them on Facebook. They’re definitely not on Facebook anymore! My friends thought I was completely insane and a show-off and an attention seeker why not do it for money? It’s all been really supportive!”
9. Curveball question – if you were a box of cereal what would you be and why?
“I love a curveball question! I would probably be Crunchy Nut. I don’t go to soggy too quickly and I’m made more of tougher stuff and I’m absolutely mental!”
10. That’s a great way to end, thanks for your time. Just to finish, what are your plans for after Edinburgh?
“World domination. My main focus with Edinburgh is to make a bit of a thing about my name and get people knowing who I am and know that I’m here to stay. After that I’d like to take my show around and do a mini-tour and use the show as much as possible as a springboard to say I’m here!”
Catch Kelly performing at Edinburgh from 31st July – 25th August (not 12th Aug) TICKETS: www.edfringe.com.