Rachel Parris

FemaleFirst puts some questions to musical comedy queen and Game of Thrones spin-off show Thronecast host Rachel Parris about her comedy career, the cult television series and returning to Edinburgh Festival this year.

When did you start your career in comedy?

I started doing improv comedy in 2007, and I think it was that that gave me the confidence to try doing stand-up! I did my first stand-up/musical comedy gig in 2010, at a lovely strange artsy night in East London. It went well, thankfully, otherwise I don't know if I'd have carried on!

What was it about musical comedy that appealed to you?

Well, it was sort of the first thing that came to mind, as it was something I could already half-do! I've been a musician and a songwriter for years, since I was a teenager, and made my living doing that on and off for a long time, so when it came to writing comedy material, it was the thing that came easiest to me, the most natural way of writing. It still feels that way.

How does it feel to be returning to Edinburgh Festival this year?

Scary and exciting! Last year went really, unexpectedly well, so this year is definitely a case of the "difficult second album" - how to follow it up! I've decided to go in quite a different direction, doing character comedy, still musical, but characters singing instead of me. It's a spoof of the big Vegas cabaret shows!

What was the experience like the last time you played the festival?

It was one of the best times in my life, to be honest. You gig and gig and wonder what your first Edinburgh show will be like, if people will like it, and when they do, it just feels like it validates the last few years of your life, and that you're on the right track. I am definitely having to lower my expectations for this year! I have heard that the second year's never the same!

Do you still get nervous when you hit the stage?

For most gigs, not too much anymore, just that hit of adrenaline a few minutes before. There are still one or two gigs a month though that I get really nervous about, and I can't talk to anyone backstage... It usually depends on if it's new material, what the crowd is like, and for me, what the tech is like!

For those who are thinking about chasing a career in comedy, what advice do you have?

This isn't very original advice, sorry! But I still have to make myself remember it: Don't compare yourself to all the others. Because of Facebook and Twitter, you're constantly presented with the successes of your colleagues and friends in comedy, and it can be hard not to feel: "why aren't I doing that, why haven't they let me play there...".

You just have to try very hard to remember it's not about them. It's just about you, doing material you want to do, to the best standard you can. 

This season of Game of Thrones you've co-presented Sky spin-off Thronecast with Jamie East, how was that whole experience?

Really fun and above all, a huge learning curve. Obviously I've done compering before at comedy nights but I've never done TV presenting before, and it's a whole new set of skills. I thought there would be a lot of , you know, transferable skills, from acting and comedy, but there weren't that many! So much of it is about how you stand, how you frame your body and the expressions you pull when you're not saying anything! You have to smile a lot harder than normal! Some people are naturally good at presenting - Jamie East doesn't seem to have to work at these things, he's just a natural! Also, having my hair and make-up done by someone else was very weird, but I'm learning to like it! 

What do you think it is about Game of Thrones that makes it so successful?

Dragons. No, I think it's a lot of different things. Part of it is that it's such a fully realised new world that's been created, that it is the perfect escapism - seeing new religions, new landscapes, new traditions, that we don't know, and getting emersed in them, and learning about them. I think it's fun to escape into Westeros for an hour or two.

But at the same time, it's a world not so different to our own - the same family tensions, (except the incest presumably), mardy teenagers, grumpy uncles, the powerful conservatives in power, the under-dogs, it's all something we recognise, so we, i know, I, get totally drawn in to it. It's fantastically written and acted too, otherwise these things wouldn't have such an impact. 

If you could step into the shoes of one of the characters on the show for a day, who would you choose and why?

Hmmm, good question! I think it would be Arya - I want to travel those green hills with the Hound, and have her fighting skills!

Who do you think will end up on the Iron Throne when all is said and done?

I feel like if it was Danaerys, that would be too easy, too expected - that's what George R R Martin WANTS us to think, so that can't happen! Maybe Tyrion, or Arya, or Jon Snow? I would like it to be a Stark!

Finally, what's next for you?

Well, at the moment it's all about this year's Edinburgh show! It's called Live In Vegas, and it's on through August and then going on a little mini-tour in Autumn. I'll also be performing with my improv group, Austentatious, throughout the festival and we will then be doing another tour as well as London dates, from Autumn onwards!

See Rachel Parris – Live in Vegas at the Pleasance: Attic during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe from 30th July – 25th August. For tickets visit www.pleasance.co.uk.

by for www.femalefirst.co.uk
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