The Spotlight on … Gemma Whelan

Character comic Gemma Whelan is star of Game of Thrones, winner of the Funny Women Variety award, was very nearly a pro ballet dancer and is on biscuit terms with Anthony Hopkins. Say hello!

Gemma_Whelan3Where in London do you live?:

I live just up from Kentish Town. Gospel Oak actually, but no one seems to have heard of it so it’s easier to say Kentish town. I live with a musician/astrologer and a paper maché bulldog called Brian, as we can’t afford a real one. He looks real though so that’s fun.

How long have you been gigging for?
Two years properly, before that I was just a nervous dabbler. I would practice in front of Brian in the kitchen and he would laugh heartily, then I would go out and unleash my funnies on the unsuspecting public in tiny rooms above pubs with no chairs and often no audience. I thought, this is the life, and on it went! Now I perform in pubs with chairs and punters!

What do we need to know about you?:
I can do the splits all three ways, I love prunes and am very good at yoga.

What do we not need to know about you, but you’re going to tell us anyway?:
I used to pick my nose and eat it. It was delicious when I was five. Sorry.

Who makes you laugh?:
Phil Kay, Samantha Mann, Phil Burgers [Dr Brown], Gerry Howell, they are all surreal and brilliant. Phil just makes stuff up on the spot in such a joyful way you can’t help getting pulled along by his comedy train. Samantha is a fantastic character act played by a chap called Adrian, I don’t know his last name but he is wonderful and very original. Phil Burgers is the best clown I ever saw, and takes wild and exciting risks with his act and his audience, and Gerry Howell is full of this wild and surreal stream of consciousness type stuff and nothing goes down the road you were expecting. There are too many brilliant people to choose from so these are a few.

What are your favourite London venues?:
The Albany as there’s always a good crowd, the Miller near London Bridge is a great space, the Leicester Square Theatre basement is super, Canal Café Theatre, the Camden Head in Camden and the one in Angel … there are lots.

Who is your celebrity doppelganger?:
Some people say Lesley Ash, before the lips.

What are you/should you be famous for?:
I should be a famous character actress please. I also did a film with Anthony Hopkins and he gave me a biscuit.

Can you dance?:
Actually yes, I am a very good dancer as that’s what I first trained as. I nearly got into the Royal Ballet School but I was the wrong shape. I teach wedding couples their first dance now, which is incredibly interesting and fun as I get to go into their homes and catch a glimpse of their lives. I’ve got some stories …! I am also part of the fabulous showgirls dance troop The Beaux Belles. Look us up, we’re super.

Whose sex face would you least like to see?
Gordon Brown.

Audiences love it when I … curtsey and say thank you after a joke. It’s only polite.

Audiences hate it when I … leave the stage. Only joking, I don’t know, when I stuff it up and make them feel uncomfortable.
Click here for Gemma’s upcoming gigs in London.

And here is Gemma’s showreel …

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