Interview: Clara Bijl

clara bijl interview

Clara Bilj’s a fantastic stand up who performs regularly in French and in English, with her humour being described as witty and observational and which comes with a European twang. In March 2019, Clara released her first comedy album, Internationally Unknown and she also hosts a weekly podcast, Exceptionally Regular People. Along with all of this she has written for Le Petit Silvant Illustré, a successful French/Swiss TV comedy for several years, written and directed a mockumentary reality TV comedy show called The Refugees, created a French comedy series, Le Shrink, and even more recently has produced My Review of Your Yelp Review, and so she’s clearly a comedian going places, and going places fast. Here she talks about her latest show Internationally Unknown, how she wishes their was more diversity on the stand up scene, what happened when she performed in the US just after 9/11, and how she’d like to make a true crime documentary with Ricky Gervais in it playing a cat.

Comedy To Watch: How would you describe your comedy to someone who wasn’t previously aware of your good self?

Clara: It’s hard to describe my comedy without seeming like I’m gloating, but I’d say it’s pretty great, I’d even say it’s amazing.

CTW: And what can you tell us about your Edinburgh show?

Clara: In this show, I talk about being French and American, about being Iraqi and having a Dutch last name. Adding to that, I went to schools in Germany, Switzerland and South Carolina. The show is primarily about my personal journey of cultural identity. Along the way, I talk about having kids and being in a relationship, relatives, refugees, school, shoes, ketchup, and seat belts.

CTW: What are your favourite things about the festival?

Clara: My favourite part is that I’m performing for a month straight. I like to see how my set evolves from the beginning of the festival to the end. I like also being able to just focus on stand up without having life get in the way.

CTW: And are there any aspects you don’t like?

Clara: I miss my family, it’s a long time to be apart from each other.

CTW: When it comes to stand up, how do you feel you’ve evolved since your first ever gig?

Clara: I realized that there is no right or wrong, this is what I have to present and that’s it. Some people like it, some people don’t but it’s not wrong.

CTW: What’s the funniest thing that’s happened to you since you started performing?

Clara: Oh well, let’s see… It’s hard to pick, do I tell you about the time I received an acceptance letter to a festival which turned out to be a mistake or the time I was invited to perform in a parking lot? I know, in retrospect, the funniest thing that’s happened to me was probably performing for the VFW (veteran of foreign wars) right after 9/11, in New Jersey, right when everybody in America hated the French because of the Iraqi war. They renamed French Fries to Freedom Fries. Did I mention I’m French? Only 3 women laughed during my 10 minute set out 250 people. Here is the kicker: I was opening for a magician.

CTW: If you could change any element of the stand-up scene, what would it be?

Clara: More diversity in shows. I’d definitely put 50% women on every show. I’m tired of seeing one or two women for every 4 or 5 men.

CTW: Apart from what you’ve already done, is there anything else you’d like to do in the comedy world?

Clara: I think I’d like to do voice-overs. Comedic ones of course.

CTW: And if money were no object, and you could collaborate with any living comedian, what would you like to create?

Clara: I’d love to do a true-crime documentary with Ricky Gervais about my cats. I’m pretty sure that my cat, Prince, plotted and was involved in the murder of its brother. I’ll play myself of course. Ricky would play the cat.

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

Clara: Clara, you are a very talented comedian, a hilarious woman, a wonderfully generous human, a volunteer, a soccer assistant coach, a writer, a creator, overall a prodigious person, I read somewhere that you were a mathematician before becoming a comedian, I have to ask you the question we are all dying to ask, what’s 2+2? A. Five.

Alex Finch. Photograph (c) Sabrina Bot.
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Related Links:
Clara Bijl is bringing her 2nd hour of brand new stand-up comedy back to Edinburgh, talking about life in America, about being a somewhat decent example to others, cats, children, refugees, dating and cursing. She may even talk about ketchup. For further info and tickets, please click here.
Clara’s Official Site.
The Exceptionally Regular People Podcast.

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