Interview: Danielle Ward

Danielle Ward’s most recent show Seventeen is the best thing on the UK stand up comedy streaming site NextUp, and that’s saying something considering it features Tony Law, Simon Munnery and Hans Teeuwen amongst many many others. She’s also responsible for the highly acclaimed and incredibly funny podcast Do The Right Thing, and has written for Dangermouse, Anna and Katy, Not Going Out and Mongrels. Here she talks about giving up stand up, her two musicals, one of which involved a killer lesbian robotic nun whilst the other is Batman meets Hamlet with a female lead, along with the worst thing to happen to her at the Edinburgh festival, writing for tv and much more besides.

Comedy To Watch: I’m a huge fan of your podcast Do The Right Thing, what are your favourite moments out of all of the episodes?

Danielle: I’ve never listened to an episode so I don’t really know what stayed in and what got cut. Also once the recording is over I tend to forget large chunks of what happened. It’s as if my brain knows not to retain it because it has been saved for posterity. That said, I loved Peacock & Gamble and the fly lady.

CTW: And what can you tell us about the forthcoming new episodes?

Danielle: They’re fun. Won’t be out until 2024 probably.

CTW: I absolutely loved your show Seventeen when I saw it thanks to the comedy site Next Up, what was it like working with them, and how was the filming of the show itself?

Danielle: Thanks! I actually filmed it myself (as in, I just paid to do it so I could stick it on Vimeo) but someone at NextUp saw it and asked if they could acquire it. So I’ve not really worked with them beyond a few emails. But they seem like thoroughly nice people who love comedy.

CTW: Your first Edinburgh show, An Hour With Danielle Ward and Roisin Conaty, was in 2005 – how do you feel you’ve evolved as a comedian since then?

Danielle: In 2005 I was a fearless comic with no sense of ‘career’. I didn’t give a fuck about playing big rooms or doing accessible material that ordinary punters might like. I miss that comic and I hope she finds a way back rather than being dead at the bottom of a quarry.

CTW: You’ve taken a break from doing stand up recently, is it something you plan to return to in the future?

Danielle: Well I spent years doing a scattergun of artistic endeavours all of which were fun & popular but led to nothing more than art for arts sake. I realised I could be a mediocre forgotten stand-up or, if I worked hard, a brilliant writer. I ditched everything except the writing and now earn 5x what I ever did doing stand-up. I physically don’t have time to gig even if I wanted to.

CTW: You’ve written musicals in the past, a genre I love a ridiculous amount, could you tell us a little about them, and whether you’d consider re-staging them? And do you plan to do any more in the future?

Danielle: Two musicals. One about a killer lesbian robotic nun, the other is Batman meets Hamlet with a female lead. I adore musicals. If someone else wanted to re-stage them then that would be brilliant but it’s not something I’d want to do. It feels like going backwards or living off former glories. I have an idea for the 3rd part of the trilogy but musicals are crazy expensive to stage and given the chances of them going anywhere further are pretty much zero, it’d be a waste of my time and money. I would love to write a musical set in Blackpool about the heroine epidemic up there, but as I’m sure you can guess from the pitch, it ain’t a comedy.

CTW: You’ve written episodes of Danger Mouse, and material for Anna and Katy, Not Going Out and Mongrels, could you tell us about your process of writing for tv? How does it differ to writing stand up? And is tv writing something you hope to do more of in the future?

Danielle: It is my full time job. I’m head writer of a kids show, main writer on a big Sky sitcom, I’m writing a film and I’ve got 4 things in development ranging from silly sitcom to humourless drama. The process is collaborative and writing to a brief, which is completely different from writing for yourself. You get loads of notes which you need to action (or disagree with depending on how good they are). Stand-up written down always looks terrible.

CTW: What would you say has been the highlight of your career so far?

Danielle: Staging my musical Gutted with a 24 piece orchestra.

CTW: And conversely, what’s been the worst thing?

Danielle: Being dumped halfway through the fringe in 2012 by my agent Hannah Layton. She only took two acts up, me and 4 Loose Screws. And she backed them! Who the fuck are they? She almost ruined Colin Hoult’s career too and he’s much much funnier than me. I think she is senior manager of a motorway Marks and Spencer now. The one on the M6?

CTW: If money were no object, what would you like to create?

Danielle: Probably the 3rd part of my ‘women in wedding dresses’ musical trilogy. It’s set in an asylum. But money would have to be no object. I’d rather get the rendering on the front of my house done.

CTW: What would you like to see change about the current comedy scene?

Danielle: I’m not part of it so I don’t really think it’s my place to comment.

CTW: Apart from stand up, podcasting, acting and script writing is there anything else you’d like to do in the comedy world?

Danielle: No. I have conquered this world (ha ha lolz). I’m moving into drama. All the best TV being made is drama (Notable exception being It’s Always Sunny… and Bojack Horseman).

CTW: Can you tell us what your plans are for the future?

Danielle: I want to be Sally Wainwright or Abi Morgan. Or Vince Gilligan. Or Ryan Murphy. I have new heroes.

CTW: And finally, if you could interview yourself, what question would you most like to ask? And what would the answer be?

Danielle: What do your family think of your career? Could not give less of a fuck. Seriously. They barely acknowledge it. Probably the sort of thing I should see a therapist about.

Related Links:
Danielle’s Official Site.
You can watch Danielle’s show Seventeen on Next Up.

Alex Finch.

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