Born to a trained killer father and a skydiving mother, Amy Howerska was always going to turn to stand-up as a career. Fred Fletch investigates her family history
THE SKINNY: Why did you choose a career in comedy? Is there any chance you're actually just a sleeper agent, unaware that at any moment, if a secret code phrase is spoken, you'll immediately do 18 back-flips and kill everyone in the room?
AMY HOWERSKA: "When I was growing up I lived on a drop-zone, which is a place where parachutists land. None of the skydivers paid any attention to you unless you were an entertaining kid – I think that is where it all started, plain simple attention seeking. Also like most comics I just watched too much Blackadder growing up... as well as raiding the family Cheech and Chong albums. I always wanted to work in comedy; the other option was going into the family business of falling out of planes, so you know.... I think there is actually very little chance that I am an agent, I can’t lie, I just start smiling and giggling. Maybe a Zoolander-esque sleeper agent, that goes mental when T'Pau comes on. Yes, that sounds like something I would do."
Imagine you are about to be dropped behind enemy lines to perform routines with extreme prejudice against extremely hostile audiences. There's plausible deniability and there's a good chance you might die on stage. Choose three other comedians to bring with you (kind of like The Expendables but with less steroids and more keenly-observed dick jokes). Who do you take and why?
"I am choosing four because I am a honey-badger:
"James Loveridge, my comrade in arms. We hosted Spank together last year and there isn’t a stag, hen or table of bellends that we can’t take down with a bumming routine.
"Tony Law. The shock and awe tactic. Totally confuse the enemy.
"Iain Stirling, who has managed to repeatedly refer to an audience via the c-bomb tactic and still have a good gig; pretty impressive.
"Janey Godley, the absolute comedy commando. Fuck with Janey Godley at your peril."
Sorry to mention your Black Ops father but it's hard not to. Has he ever ridden a combat-ready motorcycle that fires rockets from out the front and how scared should I be now that I've asked?
"I don’t think there is such a thing as a combat-ready motorcycle, and if there was I don’t think they’d have let him on it. He’s a crap driver. I don’t know what his speciality was in his unit, but it certainly was not DIY or changing a tyre. I mean, sure, he can kill you with a pen but he can’t put shelves up for shit. One time he tried to put up shelves, but me and my sister had to take them down and put them up straight. Anyway, he’s not very scary, he’s just an understated northern bloke who loves a bit of skydiving. Last time I saw him he was banging on about veganism and mindfulness. God knows what he’ll be up to next."
Is skydiving as awesome as it looks in Shoot 'Em Up and the first 10 minutes of Moonraker?
"Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. It’s not really how you see it in the films; you can’t talk in freefall, and freefall lasts 50 seconds – not five minutes a la Point Break. Skydivers are awesome people too. Really interesting characters who are just into life. They faaacking love it! All of it; sex, drugs, throwing themselves off cliffs, you name it, they’ll do it and probably with a GoPro attached...you get the odd teetotal veggie in there but we don’t hold that against them."
Does throwing yourself towards the earth at 120mph change your view on life? Do you find yourself doing things differently, like taking more risks, or letting Patrick Swayze escape because you shirtlessly love him in a way that only one man can love another man in a Richard Nixon mask?
"I have not jumped out of a plane since I was 15. But I think growing up around skydiving has definitely given me a ‘do what you love attitude’ because life is really short. As far as taking risks goes, I don’t think I am really a risk taker. I think it makes you more safety-conscious if you grow up around extreme sports. If you fuck up skydiving you might kill your best mate... and no one wants to be that guy. Having said this, perhaps my idea of risk is different... and yes, I would always let shirtless Sir Patrick of Swayze escape. I have ovaries and eyes after all."
Could you beat Catherine Zeta-Jones in a fight?
"I am quite a dirty fighter, I’ll smash your head against something and I'm not afraid to pick up a bar stool. If you’re smaller with less strength you have to learn to improvise. However, I think Catherine would be a really dirty fighter. An absolutely filthy bitch. She’s a Swansea girl after all. More importantly she is a woman who has survived for over 30 years in show business, and is married into Hollywood royalty – now that is a woman who can really handle herself. This is someone who went from The Darling Buds of May to an Oscar, you don’t do that without being one ruthless mother ucker, a proper Sasspot. So no, I don’t think I could take on HRH the princess of Wales. I think she’d chin me out cold."