Morning Gory: Rachel Fairburn on new show Showgirl

Rachel Fairburn talks class, psycho killers, and Oasis as she tours the UK with her new show, Showgirl

Feature by Andrew Williams | 15 Sep 2023
  • Rachel Fairburn

“I knew you were going to ask me that. I can tell by your hair!” Rachel Fairburn, Manchester-based comedian and self-described ‘Oasis obsessive,’ has rumbled me as a fellow fan due to my somewhat dated mop-top. The question is, how much does a sense of being from the Rainy City play into her routine?

“I do think there is a certain Mancunian sense of humour, that kind of sarcastic, taking the mickey out of everything approach, rolling your eyes at everything. And Liam and Noel have definitely got that, they’re actually really funny. I am a huge Oasis fan, since I was 11 years old. I always say I’d still love Oasis if they were from Birmingham or something, but knowing they were from Manchester was just such a bonus. It just made them even more special.” 

Fairburn is about to embark on her biggest tour to date, taking in shows in Edinburgh and Glasgow along the way. And she promises that she is mellowing out. Well, sort of. 

“I did Dry January. And to be fair I’ve only had two nights out since then, and one of those was going to see Kiss. I think I’ve just outgrown all that a bit. I used to be a bit of a caner [90s party animal for those not in the know] – a typical Oasis fan! – but even though I think I have mellowed out, I’m still annoyed at everything.”

The new show, Showgirl, promises plenty of Fairburn’s trademark routines about class and privilege. Does she ever wish she could just tell jokes about sunshine and rainbows instead?

“I’ve always been very cynical about everything. And most of what I talk about in my comedy is class. As a working-class person, I never realised I had an accent until I started working in comedy. And there’s a real divide, a certain amount of snobbery about the north. And some of our greatest comedians come from the north. People want working-class comedians to be of a certain ilk – the hard luck story, working themselves up from nothing, or the ‘cheeky chappy.’ And being a woman, I think sometimes people don’t know where to put me, because I talk about being working-class in a very positive way, it’s something I’m proud of. So I suppose it’s ended up as a funny show about being irritated.” 

Stand-up is only part of Fairburn’s repertoire, however, as she’s also half of the All Killa No Filla podcast which is celebrating its 10th birthday. Fairburn and co-host Kiri Pritchard-McLean have racked up an extraordinary 100 episodes talking about serial killers. Do murderers and mirth mix?

“Often the humour comes down to the patheticness of the person who has committed the crime, people who represented themselves in court, that kind of thing. And a lot of the time it’s just a sense of disbelief; ‘What is this guy doing? And why?!’ But yeah, the humour comes from us talking absolute rubbish about our lives. And of course it spills into your everyday world. Sometimes I walk round and think, ‘Is everyone alright? Am I mad, or is it the rest of them?’ But I do notice traits in people – thinking ‘well, they’re obviously a psychopath, they’re clearly a narcissist. Especially in comedy!”  

With a huge tour, and the success of the podcast, is Fairburn already thinking ahead to what might come next?

“I don’t think I’ll necessarily do another solo show, but I am thinking about how I could perhaps do something character-based. Maybe collaborating with someone, because I’ve done three solo shows in three years – I’m putting the working into working-class! This year it’s been quite an organic process. I’m thinking about it all the time, constantly adding new jokes in. And there are a lot of jokes in there, it’s my favourite show I’ve worked on.” 

And can we expect to see her back at the Fringe in years to come? “I find Edinburgh during the Fringe very overwhelming. I love the time I’m on stage, doing the show, but it’s everything else around it. I’m quite an anxious person. I’ve not gone this year, but I’m always thinking ahead, and I’m already wondering about future Edinburgh shows. So it’s not a yes, and not a no. Let’s call it a definitely maybe.”

Rachel Fairburn: Showgirl, The Stand, Edinburgh, 24 Sep and The Stand, Glasgow, 25 Sep