Stand-up fans will crowd the Albert Hall tonight, Tuesday March 20, for a comedy night in aid of Teenage Cancer Trust.
The big names on the lineup — Dara O Brien, Russell Howard, The Inbetweeners’ Greg Davies — will be the draw for millennials. For many of us, these are the comics with whom we grew up.
But the audience will also be treated to a rising star on the UK circuit, Desiree Burch, New York born, whose lurid takes on dates and bodily functions have recently aired on the same shows that originally brought us our noughties favourites: Live At The Apollo, QI and Have I Got News for You.
Burch’s evenings have mainly been spent at Waterloo’s VAULT Festival in recent weeks, where she stars in American import The Dirty Thirty — thirty short plays in an hour.
“And oh will it be dirty,” she said. “Quite literally, I get my face smeared with food and all sorts.”
Not unlike her stand-up then, which is more than a little blue. This fact she attributes not, as one might anticipate, to her experience as a high-class escort, but to her previous job as a teacher.
“Teachers are the dirtiest people in the world. It’s all about keeping your game face on for the children but, when you’re back in the staffroom, you’d not believe the things you hear.”
She sees the segue from standing in front of a whiteboard to the stage as a natural one.
“It’s a performance. There’s absolutely a performative element to teaching.
“It’s about getting your message across using your personality, keeping thirty people happy and quashing the hecklers.”
There’s another former teacher on tonight’s bill in Greg Davies. This proliferation of former schoolmasters is perhaps not surprising, since it’s an event for the Teenage Cancer Trust.
Burch definitely feels a sort of resonance with the cause that harkens back to her teacher days.
She added: “Teens are special and need a particular sort of stuff.
“Kids are kind of protected because they’re just made of cartilage or something.
“Once you’re thirteen or older you have a voice worth hearing, but you’re coming at it through a cloud of hormones.”
That sense of voice and struggles with self-awareness are central to Burch’s material, which ranges from the seminal, her discussions on post-feminism, for instance, to the seminal in its basest sense.
Like many American comics in the UK, she is also happy to riff on the absurd differences between the two countries, mainly because her British audience have an insatiable appetite for such observations.
“Imperialism’ll do that to you. You guys just love hearing about yourselves, so long as it’s deprecating.
British comedians actually do it a lot more than me. I’m not really at that point where I can just say ‘Oh hey, you’re from Hull,’ and half the room will snigger.”
She has certainly benefited from the British capacity for comedy, and comments on the more punchline-driven stand-up of the USA.
It is suggested that the famous British aspersion on the US sense of humour, that Americans are really just Germans who speak English.
Actually, for Burch, German audiences are a different kettle of fish altogether.
She said: “They have this thing in Germany where they won’t be expressive at all during the show.
But then they’ll come up to you afterwards and say, “I was very amused.””
Tonight will be Teenage Cancer Trust’s 18th annual comedy gala.
It will be a great opportunity for Burch to continue on her meteoric rise, but most importantly:
“It’s in the Albert Hall, the lineup’s great. I’m gonna have a great night.”
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