INTERVIEW: YOUR AUNT FANNY | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image by Jessica Salmon

Of all the things that can occur at a comedy show, finding the act too funny is up there with the best problems to have.

“It ran over! We kept having to stop because people were laughing so much!” Says a still-buzzing Matilda Neill, chatting on behalf of Newcastle-based comic septet Your Aunt Fanny. Back from a spectacularly successful weekend in London, Neill and the Fannies remain dumbstruck at the reception their hugely anticipated new show, Minge Unhinged, received. “The response was incredible. We had to shove people in at the back and down the sides!”

Three years on from their unforgettable debut as part of Live Theatre’s youth programme, the Fannies are back with full creative control for a celebration of all things fabulous, ridiculous and thoroughly inappropriate. “We’re writing, directing and producing everything ourselves, reclaiming control now we’re a bit older, so the show is all our own material and hard work. Our process includes us talking about what’s going on, what’s pissing us off, what’s making us laugh, then finding ways to make other people laugh at what’s pissing us off!”

We’re unapologetic about putting on what we find funny, and shouldn’t have to have a motive related to our gender

Often asked why they’ve created an all-woman group – and consequently just what exactly their feminist agenda must be – they are always at pains to avoid claiming too much about their work.

“We’re unapologetic about putting on what we find funny, and shouldn’t have to have a motive related to our gender. It comes up, but it’s not the reason we perform. We’re well within our rights to just be daft and stupid and silly.”

Brilliantly silly, their performances vividly capture a night on the town with your wildest, filthiest friend, nothing out of bounds and the outrageous encouraged. With their comedy firmly rooted in Newcastle, being back together performing in the city is a huge thrill for Neill alongside Lydia Brickland, Jackie Edwards, Brogan Gilbert, Emma Grace, Katie Powell and Iz Sorby. “We’re very proud of the fact that we’re from up here. It’s nice that we’ve all went away, got skills from elsewhere and then brought all of that back together here to make the best work we can.”

An entirely professional company, the reformed Fannies are also all about supporting local talent. Thanks to a recent major coup that saw them gain highly competitive Arts Council funding, they can now get other people in to help out with the practical things; people like a young local set designer tasked with creating a window costume. “It was the weirdest brief she’d ever been given! Thanks to the funding we get to help emerging artists in the region while getting more room to focus on our creativity. We’re in conversations about a national tour, a podcast and working with a filmmaker to see how our sketches would work on-screen.”

Perfect for anyone who enjoys comedy and hearing unique, exciting voices on stage, Minge Unhinged kicks off an exciting new chapter for the group. While the Fannies may be riding high, they’re still taken aback by that recent boost from Arts Council. “We couldn’t believe we got the funding,” says a beaming Neill, “our show is called ‘Minge Unhinged’, and they were like ‘have some money!’ We’re just glad it paid off!”

Us too Fannies, us too.

See Your Aunt Fanny live at Assembly Rooms Theatre, Durham on Monday 17th and Arts Centre Washington on Friday 28th June, Alphabetti Theatre, Newcastle on Saturday 6th July and The Stand, Newcastle on Monday 12th August.

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