Friday, 25 April 2014

Penny Ashton Comedy Fest Q&A

Penny Ashton Comedy Fest Q&A

Tell us the name of your showPromise and Promiscuity: A New Musical by Jane Austen and Penny Ashton

Which came first – the show name or the show content?The Title

C’mon, be honest….How dare you challenge my propriety.

Any other working titles for the show?Indeed not, I knew it had to be immediately evocative of our beloved Miss Jane Austen and that it also had to have her name in it. Mine is secondary you understand.

How long – honestly- have you been working on this?
You seem to intimate we comics are tardy in our preparations. I began toiling on my theatrical in mid 2012. I workshopped it with the eminantly eligible Mr Ben Crowder in late 2012 and debuted it at the charming Auckland Fringe Festival 2013.  From there it toured to that other colony; Canada, where it received the most wondrous reviews that I couldn’t possibly mention as it would not be humble. (Oh if you insist; 5 Stars, CBC, Manitoba.)  Since then it is booked to appear a mere 73 times this year….. as unbecoming as it is for a lady to work you understand. I expect I’ll be tired and distinctly unmarried by the end of it all.

What’s been the biggest challenge of pulling this show together?
For the intial production I would have to say trusting in myself to write a play, having never done that before. I seriously had no clue if I could or not.  Having improvised about 40 Austen Musicals with my improv troupe I knew what japes worked well, but who knew about the rest.  It seems I can, thanks be to the heavens.  The fun part was making my bonnet with a newfangled hot glue gun, and designing my most fetching costume.

Who’s your biggest comedy rival – and why?
Emily Bronte.  That bitch has it coming.

Who’s your biggest comedy friend – and why?

My partner, Mr Matthew Harvey. He is relatively new to the world of performance and comedy, but he staged a most accomplished Fringe show of his comedy poetry that was most pleasing and had the audience in stitiches. He is there to bounce ideas off of, whether he likes it or not, and is my metaphorical standing ovation every single day.

Which show is your must see? Why?
Oliver Twisted: An Improvised Dickens. I must see it as I am also in it and it will be very hard not to see it therefore. It will ALSO be a very silly fun time involving ladies of the night and vile foodstuffs. Otherwise Tom Wrigglesworth. I saw his last show and enjoyed the humour AND the heart in it.  I read that this is similar in that respect.

Give us your definition of a great night out during the festival
A fantastic show followed by a cheeky beer, always must be beer, then chatting to people who make a living doing the same sort of stupid things I do.

What goes through your mind, the minute before curtain goes up?
This corset is very tight.

What about when you’re on stage?
I eagerly anticipate the lines are know are packed with laughs. I can't wait to get to them.  It’s also possible to think about entirely mundane things when you’re onstage like what you’ll have for lunch the next day.

How easily distracted are you?
Well in Fort McMurray Canada, I was doing this show and the 6 month old screaming baby distracted me quite a lot. So much so I kicked her out. Well her Mum. Her 2 year old sister hadn’t been too quiet either. I gently reminded said mama I am not a TV.

Give us your dream comedy line up
Bette Midler, Dame Edna, Shirley McLaine, Louis CK, Tina Fey and Chelsea Handler. It’d be weird, but the oestrogen would get me totally high in a very good way.

Just finally, where will you be in 5 years’ time
IN Auckland, still not affording a house, marrying people (as a celebrant, not a Mormon), enjoying life and probably still recovering from my 45th birthday 2 months earlier. 

Penny Ashton performs her show PENNY ASHTON IN PROMISE AND PROMISCUITY A New Musical by Jane Austen and Penny Ashton in Auckland Tue 6 May - Sat 10 May, 7pm. 
For more information visit

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