28 Nov 2018

Catherine Tate live in our studio!

From Afternoons with Jesse Mulligan, 1:22 pm on 28 November 2018

Catherine Tate doesn't care whether you like her, she doesn't care whether you like her characters - she just wants to make you laugh. 

On tour here in New Zealand for the first time, Tate is bringing her many memorable small-screen characters to the stage.

They include 'Lauren' the schoolgirl who never stops answering back, and 'Nan' who has seen absolutely everything but can't always remember.

She tells Afternoons' Jesse Mulligan the characters express her love for humankind, and she's not making fun of them. 

"It's a celebration of everyone."

"I’m never making fun of Lauren … I think it’s important for young girls to be outspoken.

"I know she can go across the line a little bit but I always made a very conscious decision - that character never swears, she can speak French, she can quote sonnets, she knows her periodic table.

"She’s erudite, she can stand up for herself. I know she’s every teacher’s worst nightmare, but if you look down her list of characteristics I think there's things there that are very very valuable.

"I think they’re good for young girls to be that. Speak up."

Nan, too, is admirable. 

"She’s actually fundamentally very good, she doesn’t learn her lesson and I think that’s why she’s funny, but I think it’s because at her core she’s actually … very open, she’s very inclusive.

"It’s just that she comes at it from an obscure angle."

Regardless, she says she doesn't care if people like them or not. 

"I follow the school of comedy thought that I’m only asking people to laugh.

"Personally I don’t think comedy’s about people learning lessons or having epiphanies and becoming better people - I think people are funny because they’re funny. 

"I’m not asking people to like my characters, I don’t care if people don’t like me or my characters, I care if they make people laugh.

"You can’t really laugh 'laugh' if you don’t really like."

Catherine Tate by Matt Crockett

Photo: Matt Crockett

She grew up watching a 'golden era' of comedy on TV, she says. 

"Morcambe and Wise; and the Two Ronnies; and Victoria Wood - Wood and Walters; French and Saunders. 

"There was a brilliant sketch show called Three of a Kind and it was Lenny Henry, Tracey Ullman and then a guy that I don’t know what happened to him, he’s called David Copperfield."

One of the great gifts showbusiness has given her has been a friendship with Dawn French, she says. 

"Just before my show came out I got a job .. with Dawn French.

"I was bowled over by it because she's an absolute hero of mine, and we've become friends."

Ben Elton coming to one of her shows in Perth once similarly knocked her over. 

"Ben Elton was absolutely at the cutting edge of it… he used to wear a sparkly jacket, that was his thing and he’d go on stage, on TV live smoking a cigarette … and I remember he used to call Mrs Thatcher ‘Mrs Thatch’. 

"It was such a stupid thing, a small thing, but as a kid you’d go ‘oh my god he’s just called her Mrs Thatch’ and it was so irreverent."

Things are a bit different now, though. 

"You have to be careful treading the line now, but you can’t go too far behind the line. You don’t want to vault over the line and shock people for the sake of it, that's never been my thing.

"The difference between now and when I started is there was no Twitter, there was no social media kind of thing, there wasn’t this thought police and wanting to be intentionally offended. 

"There is … willful misinterpreting things, there can be a wave of ‘I’m just professionally outraged’.

"You can find whatever your agenda is in anything that you’re looking at and I think that some parts of the internet highlight that." 

Although times have changed a bit, and it's some time since she put the TV show to bed, she says it wasn't very hard to turn the small-screen show to a live one. 

“Actually, it’s very liberating really. There were things like for example the excerpt that you played … the Northern Irish mum who’s really, really proud that she’s got a gay son - that was a filmed piece in the show, we didn’t ever do that live.

"My writing partner In the UK Brett Goldstein [that insisted on making it live] … I was really reticent about doing it live but it’s one of my favourite parts of the show now, partly because it changes every night because we rely on people from the audience. 

"You just have to put it through a different lens, and everything’s possible on stage and it’s really exciting. 

Of course, it's not just Catherine on stage - with her will be Niky Wardley who appeared on the original show, plus David O'Reilly and Alex Carter. 

With shows selling out, she's just announced two new ones. 

"Thank you New Zealand for coming out and buying tickets; and come and see it, we’ll make you laugh, honestly." 

The Catherine Tate Show - Live is at the Bruce Mason Centre, Auckland on Wednesday 28 and Thursday 29; the Opera House in Wellington Friday 30 November; the Regent on Broadway, Palmerston North on Saturday 1 December; Isaac Theatre Royal in Christchurch Wednesday December 3, Wellington's Opera House again on Thursday 6 December; Spark Arena in Auckland on Saturday 8 December. 

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