Manchester comic Kerry Leigh has revealed that an intrinsic love for her brother inspired her oddly named new headline show at the Frog and Bucket.
The comedienne’s latest production, Kerry Leigh Wants To Marry Her Brother, opens up about cancer jokes, motherhood and why having a dick doesn’t make you funny.
Joining forces with Laughing Cows Comedy, Kerry goes from hosting the iconic monthly event to headlining her solo show today.
The brainchild of Hazel O’Keefe, Laughing Cows was launched 17 years ago to prove a point: that female comedians aren’t a bizarre specialist act, or too risky to add on the bill.
“It’s archaic, but I don’t think most people think that way anymore,” Kerry told MM.
“Sometimes it’s just a feeling, like when you get on stage, you feel that you have to prove yourself more than the other people on the bill who don’t have vaginas.
“It’s a minority opinion and I would like to stress that because I think the crowd definitely has turned, but sexism still exists in general, so why would comedy be exempt from it?
“We still live in a sexist world but it’s pretty easy to change someone’s opinion because you get on stage and you’re funny, regardless of gender.”
After performing comedy for over ten years, namely as a host for the Laughing Cows Comedy shows, Kerry is part of a burgeoning number of female comics.
Unafraid of crossing boundaries, her material hinges on truth and themes that might hit a nerve, like health scares and heartbreak, or as she joked, ‘making a dick of yourself in public’.
She revealed that the title of her new show was designed to capture attention, despite appearing to sound ‘wrong’ to the average person.
“I did toy with the title and obviously it’s got a bit of a ‘wrongness’ to it but it’s attention-grabbing, and there’s truth in it,” she said.
“I would literally tell people when I was little because I adored him so much, ‘I’m going to marry my brother when I grow up’, in a very innocent way.”
With strong childhood memories of always laughing, her brother’s gags inspired her later venture into comedy, especially when he’d perform the timeless go-behind-the-settee-and-pretend-to-walk-downstairs illusion.
“Do you remember that? He used to do that for me – I thought he was the funniest person in the world,” she added.
An ‘attention-seeker’ herself, Kerry had ‘vivid memories’ of acting at school to make people laugh, something that she still dabbles in at 39-years-old.
“Whether I consciously knew or not that I always wanted to be a comedian, I don’t know, but it’s definitely in the genes,” she said.
Calling her brother ‘naturally funny’, she couldn’t decide on who between them was the most entertaining.
In fact, she laughed before calling a draw, but he continues to be a source of inspiration to her work.
“I do joke on stage that the reason I had to be a comedian is because of all his attention-seeking – he’s in a band and everyone loves him,” she said.
“He’s had cancer a couple of times so I joke about that being attention-seeking which is horrific I know, but it’s the set up for the show.”
Having first performed the material during the Women in Comedy Festival in 2014, Kerry sold out the venue and received a standing ovation.
Now in its third year, the event operates an inclusive policy, which welcomes transgender and gender queer comedians who identify as female to perform.
Currently in a same-sex marriage, Kerry doesn’t feel audiences are bothered by her sexuality and champions her own style of ‘feel-good and inclusive’ comedy.
An MC since 2004, she’s used to Manchester’s diverse audiences but in the early days of chauvinist male promoters, there were challenges to break through.
“There are less so now but it’s still not 100 per cent,” Kerry said.
“I’m lucky that I gig a lot for lovely people whereas there are other gigs that aren’t so nicely run and there are some dated attitudes out there.”
Not dwelling on the glass ceiling, Kerry revealed a more personal struggle: motherhood and two years of breastfeeding while gigging – the logistics of which are difficult.
“It can be hard being a mum and trying to do stand-up when you’re out at night.
“I don’t want to be disparaging towards my ex-partner, but you need to be with someone who is very supportive of what you do particularly if you have a family because it’s a proper juggle.”
Mum-of-two daughters, aged six and nine, Kerry had broached the monotony of motherhood for comedy sake long before now and it made us both laugh.
“Years ago when I was going a bit insane, I decided to do a show in Edinburgh about being a mum and took my baby with me,” she said.
“I think I just wanted to escape the day-to-day humdrum.”
A mother, wife, part-time comedienne and full-time trainer facilitator, before comedy and children, Kerry worked in customer service but was far from the office clown.
“No, more the ‘idiot’,” she corrected, laughing infectiously.
“I never felt comfortable working in an office, you know when you feel as if you’re wearing your mum’s clothes and pretending to be someone?
“An office environment just didn’t fit with me, I never quite felt like a grown up, whereas in stand-up I get to be a child, which is essentially what I am: a child trapped in a woman’s body.”
Get your tickets for Kerry Leigh Wants To Marry Her Brother by clicking here.