‘Not my finest hour’
Up and coming comedian Alexandra Haddow shares a spoiler into her Edinburgh show which you can catch at next month’s Northampton Comedy Festival
By Sarah Becker
“It’s not my finest hour.”
Originally from Corby, comedian Alexandra Haddow is talking about her new one-hour preview show she will be performing at the Northampton Comedy Festival.
It’s the first time Northampton will have its own dedicated Comedy Festival which will run throughout July and has been organised by directors of The Comedy Crate, a local independent comedy club.
So what did Alex mean by the title of her new show Not My Finest Hour?
“This will be a show about doing things, wrong in particular, about something that I wished I hadn’t done. It’s a show about something bad I did in my 20s that I look back on and invite you to essentially judge me as you see fit. You might think I am a total tart for doing it, or you might think you know, we all make mistakes.”
“I’m most proud of the title,” she adds, laughing.
The preview show Alex, 35, will be performing will be one of the last shows she does before she takes it to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August.
The pressure will be on in Edinburgh as she will be on stage every night for the whole month of the Fringe.
“The Edinburgh Festival can send you a bit insane because not only are you performing your show every night, you are doing other spots to promote your shows as well as late night spots. You are also doing interviews and have the added pressure of reviewers and producers watching your shows.”
What can we expect from Alexandra in her new debut show?
As well as something she did ‘wrong’ in her 20s, dating and relationships are another endless fascinating source of show material for Alex. She reveals that she started doing stand up just after the time her boyfriend of the time had been deported, which was a “weird story that I’ll be talking a little about in my show,” she says.
“I literally get material from real life and can’t make anything up,” she says. “It’s mostly stuff that has happened.”
Like the time she got back with her boyfriend six times, “the last time in 2021,” she says.
Alexandra is a full time comedian now. She is based in London but is “everywhere,” she says. Her calendar is currently looking hectic. As well as the preview show in Northampton, and The Edinburgh Festival in August she works at The Glee Club in Cardiff, and gigs most nights of the week in London Glasgow, Nottingham and Oxford.
After the Fringe, she will be taking a well deserved break, “my mate is getting married in Ireland so I am tagging along for a five day holiday – I think I’ll be flat on my back destressing after the Fringe.”
It’s all a far cry from Corby roots.
There wasn’t, she says, a great deal to do in her hometown when she was growing up. “Corby was bad when I was there – I say bad but mean there wasn’t that much to do. There has been loads of investment in more recent years and it’s way better now. We didn’t have the Corby Cube then or the theatre scene.”
She left the town in 2006 and went to university to study English literature. “I threw myself into university life – well into everything except for my course. I worked for the student paper and for a record label.”
She fell into being a stand up comedian by mistake and had never even thought about being it until a friend coaxed her into writing material for a five minute set and then told her he had booked her a slot at a local comedy club.
“I was terrified,” she said, “but it actually went well.”
Following the death of her grandfather, she received two thousand pounds in inheritance and she thought she would “do the sensible thing,” and blow it on a two month trip away, she says.
“I called it a mid-life crisis trip, but I was only twenty eight.”
“During that trip, I just thought I am so bored of my job (in PR) that I’m going to give stand-up comedy a go.”
Fast forward to the current day and Alexandra has achieved much in the comedy game - she has supported Frankie Boyle and Jack Whitehall and last weekend she had a guest column in the Sunday Times magazine.
She says she still loves honing her craft, which although seems spontaneous, is actually the result of many nights of gigging. Corby also features regularly in her act, and her family still live in the area.
How does she cope with a stony-faced crowd?
She sees it as a challenge, she says.
“You can do the same show two nights in a row, word for word and one audience will absolutely love it and the next one you’ll die on your arse. It’s not always your fault. You’ve just got to think who cares?
“Get up and try again next time, you might get a different result. Often you’ll have a great one after a bad one.”
“Comedy is a great leveller. You can be doing a massive festival one day and the next day you’ll be in a pub with four or five people.”
You can find out for yourself just what Alexandra did wrong in her preview set Not My Finest Hour at V and B Wine Bar on Tuesday, July 18 . She will be performing alongside fellow comedian Jamie Allerton.
The men behind the Northampton Comedy Festival are directors of local independent comedy club, The Comedy Crate, KJ and Mike Chase.
“The purpose of the Northampton Comedy Festival - as well as getting us out there - is to give people a feel of the Edinburgh fringe without having to go to Edinburgh,” says Mike.
For many of the comedians, it’s a chance to try out new material destined for the Edinburgh fringe.
Organised in collaboration with Northampton Town Centre BID, the Northampton Comedy Festival will take place over eight nights and a weekend in July across a number of venues from June 28 to July 28.
It will feature over 40 comedians, many of whom are big name comedy faces popular on our TV screens, national circuit headliners as well as local talent.
A local on the line up is Ben Briggs, who will be performing at The Lamplighter Pub on July 8.
Finalist in the Comedian of the Year Award, Ben has been a stand up comedian for over 15 years appearing at the Edinburgh, Nottingham, and Leicester comedy festivals.
What you can expect from Ben: brash, honest, dark, razor sharp and very funny Ben pushes boundaries and explores topics “other people wouldn’t dare” from fresh angles.
For the complete schedule of The Northampton Comedy Festival 2023 visit thecomedycrate.com