Onion Talking: Anna Mann on A Sketch Show for Depressives

© Colin Hoult

© Colin Hoult

It can’t have escaped your attention that the Edinburgh Fringe is just around the corner. And with it, comes Colin Hoult‘s new hour of comedy, A Sketch Show for Depressives.

We tried to speak to Colin about his return to the festival, but when we rang his number, Anna Mann, who is sharing the bill with Colin, picked up instead.

TVO decided to make the best of it…

Hello, Anna – how are you? 

Oh, darling, I am brimming with anticipation, greedy with it. Literally spewing excitement out of my ears. Because of the show darling. But also arguably because I just ate three bowls of Ricicles. Fuck!

Well quite. Look, I realise I haven’t seen you for about four years now…

Well I don’t think you can entirely blame me for that darling, you had my address. 69 Star Lane! Actually I have been on various peoples couches for a while, so fair enough.

You’re back in Edinburgh after a bit of a gap. Are you ready for the challenge?

Sleeves rolled up, pants on the right way, lipstick unfurled, jokes un-not thought of. Plus I’ve been swimming every day in the local pond. It’s rich with life and really setting up my poison immunity levels.

In a handy soundbite, what can you tell me about the new show?

Of course. As always it will be visceral, real and incredibly brave. It’s a silly hour dealing with my battles with the hulking monster depression, which will hopefully offer some comfort to those similarly afflicted. But riddled with funnies.

And going deeper than that, this show captures some real, genuine and rather raw emotions on stage. How much of what we see is pure Anna Mann heart and soul?

All of it darling. I don’t know if I could be anyone else. Actually, I am an actress, so forget I said that. I’m very good at playing other people. Once I played Othello and Iago at the same time. It was awful. Someone died! But you’ve got to try these things…

Your CV is littered with shows that tackled issues. Does this show follow on that legacy?

Well, yes of course I’ve covered everything from biting satire in the now legendary Shut Up Thatcher to my scathing attack on 80s South Africa in Shut Up Apartheid. This is a little more personal and closer to home, but no more than say, A Bowl for My Bottom AKA Shut Up Diarrhoea.

Now, Anna. I know you’ve been through a lot in the past couple of years. Could this show be part of a real return to form for Anna Mann?

I hope so, darling. I’ve ran out of husbands and repeat fees have all dried up. I don’t want to get beyond myself, but I’ve already learnt the show in three different languages in prep for the world tour, so fingers crossed. Sadly I’m still behind with my lines in English.

© Idil Sukan / Draw HQ

© Idil Sukan / Draw HQ

For previous runs in Edinburgh, you’ve been ably supporting your friend Colin Hoult, but this time around he’s letting you take the driver’s seat. How clean is your acting licence?

What? I need an actor’s licence? Shit! Now you tell me. This is like when I got in all that bother for driving without a driving license. I’d been doing it since the 70s.

Nevermind… er… of course, you’re not alone this time round, either. The show features a couple of promising co-stars. What can you tell me about them?

Oh a couple of darling young chaps from the local acting school. Bruce Wayne – lovely, very keen, not too bright but hell, what a specimen. Who needs to be able to read when you’ve got muscles, as I told Sean Bean all them years ago. The other one’s a bit older with a beard but he’ll do.

I’m sure the place will be packed out each night. After all, Carnival of Monsters, in which you co-starred, was a cult hit on Radio 4 recently. Has that led to new opportunities for work?

I got offered to look after my sister in law’s bric a brac stall at a fete last summer. But apart from that, much the same as always.

© Colin Hoult

© Colin Hoult

Oh, shame. Now you’ve moved to Brighton, and escaped that insular world of theatre luvvies and hangers on. Has it given you a new sense of perspective?

Oh yes. I’m learning how to do diablo and tight rope on the park. Plus I’m already in 42 bands! I can’t play a thing!

I’ve heard you say that you’re a bit of a black name in theatres across the land, but I’ve seen the mere mention of you cause eyes to glaze over on the right person. Particularly fans of your little seen, languishing in VHS purgatory classics like A Bowl For My Bottom and niche-cult sci-fi Professor Whatnot. Wouldn’t it be nice to see them remastered on blu-ray?

Gosh, I’m sure it would if I had any idea what you were talking about. Blu-ray, is that like compact discs?

That’s probably one for another time. I’ll bring you one to look at in Edinburgh. But while most of your work is unreleased by uncaring studios, you yourself have been engaging with new technology with your video diaries. Are you still embracing the 21st century?

I’m embracing the 22nd my truth. Always one foot ahead of the curve. You’ve got to be otherwise you’d be dead. Don’t forget every curve has an edge. Sort of.

© Colin Hoult

© Colin Hoult

A little birdie told me one of your many ideas on the go is to make a film about your life. Is this true?

Yes. I’ll be playing me. But oddly I’ll be playing it as Jane Fonda. A brave choice though, I hope!

For now though, Edinburgh. You don’t need to convince me – I’ll be there clapping and applauding and putting my hands together in a noise making capacity. But for anyone uncertain with a packed out schedule, why should they come and see your show above all others at 7pm at the Pleasance?

Because its honestly fucking brilliant. It’s true, it’s touching, it’s moving, it’s daft and funny and the absolute bees knees. Plus it features, I believe, the first ever onstage 69er. And if that don’t get you coming, I don’t know what will.

Fab. That’s all from me, but I’ll see you in Edinburgh. What’s your tipple?

A pint of kindness with a chaser of world peace. And some gin. Thanks Love xxx

And with that, she was gone… 

Colin Hoult / Anna Mann: A Sketch Show for Depressives is at Pleasance Courtyard at 19:00 from August 3rd-16th and August 18th-28th. Tickets are available over yonder.

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