Interview with comedian Celya AB of The Bush Comedy Festival

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A person with long dark hair, wearing a red jacket over a striped top, poses with their left arm raised and bent at the elbow, casting a shadow. The background is dark and the lighting creates a dramatic effect on their face.

Comedian Celya AB is due to perform at The Bush Comedy Festival's Opening Gala on the 17th of July. We caught up with Celya to dig into her creative process and find out where the good comedy is at!

Hi Celya, it would be great to hear your comedy inspirations?

My inspirations are a mix of straight stand-up and sketch comedy. It all started with French sketch groups Les Inconnus and Les Nuls when I was really young. Later in my teens, I discovered Pierre Desprogues, 30 Rock/SNL, Dylan Moran and Maria Bamford.

Recently, I’ve been loving Norm McDonald and John Mulaney. I loved Jacqueline Novak’s Get On Your Knees and was sad to miss Marie Faustin at Soho. Her podcast (with the very funny Sydnee Washington) and reels make me laugh so so much. In the UK, I especially look up to James Acaster, Sarah Keyworth and Bridget Christie.

A woman and a man, both with light skin, sit closely together in a dimly lit audience. They are laughing and looking at each other with joy. The background is blurred, showing other audience members who appear to be enjoying the event as well.

Can you walk us through your process of writing a new joke or routine? How much does it vary?

It varies on the assignment I suppose. If I’m writing on a topical show or punching up a script I’ll try to come up with 1-3 jokes for each story/line, they won’t always be good but I think it’s really taught me to stay on a topic and try to get as much as possible out of it. When writing stand-up, it’s often as simple as observing something when I go about my day and writing it in my incredibly messy note app.

I’ll sometimes go on stage with the premise and maybe one joke and see what comes out, and if there’s something there I’ll sit down and refine it. I’m learning the importance of downtime too, a joke can sometimes be fixed by the brain in the background when resting, that’s really magical.

You are performing at The Bush Comedy Festival Opening Gala; could you hint at what you be bringing?

I’m really excited! The lineup is amazing, I’m especially looking forward to seeing Cat Cohen again.

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What does it feel like to be in the UK comedy scene right now? How does it compare with that of France?

I’ve never gigged in France but I imagine it’s really stylish and in black and white. I’d love to spend like a year in Paris and immerse myself in the scene at some point. It does seem like stand-up has really exploded there and I find it really exciting!

The UK scene is great and in my opinion one of the best in the world, there’s something for everyone and the standards are really high, which in turn is creating amazing shows each year. I’ve been lucky to be invited to Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Just For Laughs Montreal and Kilkenny’s Cat Laughs and loved seeing comics I hadn’t gigged with before. I was especially inspired by the Australian/NZ scene and can’t wait to see some of their shows at the Fringe this year.

What’s caught your eye in the UK culture/ comedy/ performance scene recently?

Not in the UK but I was recently in a green room in Ireland for a mixed-bill show that, as part of the rider on the table, had 26 bath towels. Sometimes I lay awake at night just “but… why?”.

If we’re talking UK comics, Jin Hao Li is great and although I don’t believe he’s as new as people say and think he’s actually a vampire who’s been going for a hundred years, his debut will be great. Farah Sharpe is also really great.

Learn more about Celya AB here and The Bush Comedy Festival here.

Celya AB's show Of All People runs Jul 31 Aug 1-13, 15-25 at Pleasance Courtyard.