Comedy Spotlight: Rachel Fairburn

This month's unflinching glare lands on Rachel Fairburn. A census taker once tried to test her. It didn't end well...

Feature by John Stansfield | 29 Apr 2014
  • Comedy Spotlight Rachel Fairburn

It’s a good job that Rachel Fairburn is very funny, because she’d make one heck of a murderer. Her obsession with those darker souls among us may not come across upon first impression, but don’t judge a book by its cover. Instead judge her by the colouring book she lovingly created. The one on serial killers.

Getting ready for her first assault on the Fringe later this year with her show All the Fun of the Fairburn we sat down with Fairburn, Clarice Starling-style, to find out what makes her tick.

“Horror films and Elvis Presley are probably my biggest influences. I don’t have any comedy influences really, my mum is a big comedy fan and I was always watching stuff like The Young Ones, Alexei Sayle and The Two Ronnies growing up. I loved Spitting Image as well. Obviously, I didn’t get all the jokes in the shows but would watch videos recorded off the TV for hours. My mum actually had to stop me watching The Young Ones as I started to repeat episodes off by heart. Not ideal when you are five.”

First gig:
“It was King Gong at Manchester Comedy Store, January 2008. I did three and a half minutes, which is quite respectable for that bear pit. I was just glad I’d got my first gig out of the way.”

Worst gig:
“A pub in Barnard Castle a few years ago. I was playing to about ten people and a dog. They hated me. Although I think the dog was enjoying it. You know it’s a bad gig when the elderly man on the front row hurling abuse at you is the landlord.”

Best gig:
“Newcastle Stand last August. It’s a great comedy club and the audience enjoyed my stuff as much as I did being there. It was definitely a good gig as people were trying to high five me as I left the stage. I was very flattered but incredibly embarrassed as well. I get very easily embarrassed and try and live my life around avoiding feeling awkward. In fact, in hindsight, it ruined the gig. Put this as my worst gig!”

Best heckle:
“I once watched a comedian die so badly on stage that he ended up heckling himself. He was desperately clutching at straws to try and win the uninterested crowd back and asked, “Has anyone been to Telford?” As everyone stared in defiant silence the sentence just echoed round the room, bouncing off the walls as if it was shouting back at him. Absolutely magical. And hilarious. I still laugh whenever I see a sign for Telford or hear someone mention it.”

What would you be doing if you weren’t doing stand-up:
“I think I’d probably be a criminal psychologist. I wouldn’t need the training. I’ve read almost every true crime book ever written. Even the trashy ones.”

If you were on death row, what would your last meal be? And why are you on death row?
“I’d probably have a chippy. I’m only there because I got complacent and slipped up.”

What’s the largest animal you think you could beat in a fight – no weapons?
“A dog. I talk about it in my set. Come and see one of my gigs and all will be revealed!”

Questions from April’s Spotlight, Liam Bolton: “What’s your favourite episode of The Simpsons
“So many to choose from. I have loads of best bits from various episodes. Monorail is a classic though.”

Rachel Fairburn will be previewing her Edinburgh show All The Fun of the Fairburn at The King‘s Arms in Salford on 8 May