Georgie Morrell is back for a second year at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017 – last year she turned going blind into a successful show. Daniel Perks talks to her about A Poke In The Eye and The Morrell High Ground:

As a comedian, Georgie Morrell had the perfect material for her first show. Everyone takes from their past and their experiences – Georgie went blind for a year and has gradually regained some of her eyesight. But, she’s not going to be depressed about it, she’s using it to highlight disabilities and talk about them honestly. Plus, it can make for some great awkward comedy!

A Poke In The Eye is back at Edinburgh Festival Fringe this year after a successful 2016 touring the country. With it, Georgie is bringing her second show, The Morrell High Ground. I catch up with her to see how she feels about a fringe festival now she has one under her belt:

 

Two shows up in Edinburgh this year – how are you feeling?

What was I thinking… It’s great, I’ll be able to perform two shows a day! Everyone says I’ll be exhausted, but I like to push myself to the absolutely limit and see what happens. I’m also appearing in a mate’s sketch show a couple of evenings a week (Late Night Gimp Fight) – let’s just chuck it all in! 

It’s twice as much work though. One of the shows I’ve already done, so I thought it would be easier – that was very naive of me. Classic Morrell.

Last year’s Edinburgh was the best decision I ever made. I got a transfer; it did a mini-tour, radio, TV; I wrote the next show. And I’m not even going to be modest about it, I worked hard last year! Sacrificed a personal life and everything.

 

Now you’re up a second time, do you feel wiser and more mature?

Absolutely. Older, wiser, maybe even a bit prettier – too pretty to be real, there’s the title of my next show. My advice is buy a kagool, I wouldn’t be seen dead in one anywhere else. Or in Uggs… What a combo… So shapeless. You have to wear one though, you can’t have an umbrella.

Also, don’t think you’re going to be healthy up there – it won’t last a minute. Every morning you’ll wake up and want stodge. You walk so far in that city, it’s so hilly. You need to pack yourself full of carbs and sugar. The adrenaline you’ll use as well, every performer is thrown around the city. Everyone says don’t go up and drink or party too much, but I don’t take that advice so I can’t really give it out. Sounds like great advice, have no fun… I would say ease yourself in and die in September. Plenty of time to sort yourself out then.

A Poke In The Eye – Georgie Morrell

The first time I did A Poke In The Eye, I was terrified.

A Poke In The Eye is about a sensitive subject – I went blind for a year, so I made that into a comedy of course! It’s the candidness (is that a word?) of the story that makes it funny. It was eight years after I went blind that I started to put it together – I needed that time to come to terms with a few demons and accept what the future might be. The chances are, I will go blind again and will have to have that battle, so the sooner I come to grips with that, the better the show will be. I quite brutally use my tragedy for a career, but we’ve all got our ‘commodity’. 

People don’t talk about disability and there’s a responsibility for the disabled community to talk about it more and not expect everyone to notice straight away. The more we talk about it, the more we break down a barrier, move on and have fewer misconceptions.

Easier said than done, but it does work.

The first time I did the show, I was terrified. Could I write jokes, write a show, carry a show on my own? I came up and wondered what I was thinking – I’m putting everything on the line, I’m scared and I’m small. My mate told me to go to a party, let off some steam and let everyone else do their job. So, I did – well it had a free bar! I danced until 4am, did my show the next day and from then on I had a blast. Just let go, shut the fuck up and enjoy it.

I survive it by keeping some things back. I never talk about my relationships on stage for example. Some of the people I talk about in the show turn into stock characters as well, that makes it easier.

 

The Morrell High Ground is more ‘state of the nation’.

The Morrell High Ground is essentially about the rest of my life, a bit state of the nation. I’m a little bit angry, frustrated at seeing things gets worse and worse, for those of us reliant on state systems e.g. the NHS. It’s not being talked about enough- that’s why I want to do the show in Edinburgh, but also take both of my shows as much outside of London as possible.

Preaching to the converted, what’s the point? Good for ego, but not for the future.

I wanted to go a bit bigger as well, show my finesse as a performer by taking on bigger topics. It’s been really good fun to write and to work with Gemma Arrowsmith, my director. Taking the shows and gigging out of London has been (no pun intended) an eye opener. 

Georgie Morrell (image courtesy of Jack Latimer)

Who else at Edinburgh are you looking forward to seeing?

Ros Blessed is up with The Delights of Dogs – a great woman; Panilla HollandPanilla Ice Ice Baby and Dan Attfield: Google Drive are at the Underbelly Med Quad; Late Night Gimp Fight if you want a good laugh. Any of the guys who have developed shows with Soho Theatre Young Company, they’re the next generation. I’ve self-appointed myself as their leader – no one else was doing it!

Scott Barnett: Quantumly Entangled with a Blobfish at Just The Tonic, his show is so weird and so funny. Bendiana Jones and their Temple of Huge – what a great title!

 

If you could sum up your show in three words…

Faux, fun arrogance – a mate of mine came up with that the other week and I couldn’t write it down, I got so stuck on spelling faux. A published writer, smooth.

It’s better than sassy, quirky, funny – isn’t that just everyone really? If someone ever described me as quirky, I’d tell them to fuck off.

 

Who or what are your inspirations?

Me, the wonder that is Georgie. I’ve been very careful not to put too many people on pedestals – it takes one experience for someone to fall off and your heart’s broken. I wouldn’t say my family inspire me, but they certainly drive me. We went through so much when I was little with my health, I want to show them it was worth it.

I take lots of things from different comedians – Greg Davies, Trevor Noah, Francesca Martinez. I don’t think you should have one, you fall into their style and end up punishing yourself.

I think Anna Wintour is a great role model – she’s the fucking business. She has made mistakes, she is a bit of a bitch, but she doesn’t apologise and she’s brilliant at what she does. Maybe I’ll play her in a biopic of her film one day… She’s got bad eyesight as well, that’s why she wears the sunnies.

 

To read more about A Poke In The Eye, playing at The Laughing Horse, Edinburgh from 4 – 28 August 2017, or The Morrell High Ground, playing at Underbelly Med Quad, Edinburgh from 3 – 28 August 2017, follow Georgie on Twitter (@Georgiepokeeye) or visit her website – georgiemorrell.co.uk

To purchase tickets to either show, visit the Edinburgh Festival Fringe website – www.edfringe.com