Athena Kugblenu says FOLLOW THE LEADER at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your performing background?
I’m a stand up comedian, who had no performing background before staring comedy in spring 2012. This is very evident by looking at early videos of me and sometimes it shows now! I used to write a lot and contributed articles on things like politics and sport to online publications, so I think that shaped my observational and critical eye.

Tell me about your show, what it is all about?
Follow the Leader is about how I would make a great leader if it wasn’t for the mistakes I have made in the past. But, it’s also about how (in the Western world at least) we don’t really have any leaders of note who are progressive or care about their people. However, we’re not great citizens at the moment (see 100s of England fans trashing an ambulance when they won a game!). So maybe we get the leaders we deserve…lets not forget the ones we have are democratically elected too.

How long have you been working on this show and what is it that makes it relevant to audiences in 2018?
I started writing it in January 2018, its relevant because it is very much a product of the current political climate but it’s a personal show, I’m more interested in talking about us than the individuals like May or Trump that we like to focus our attention on. Because there are millions of us! So surely we are somewhat responsible for problems that we have too?

Do you have any top tips for surviving the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – both for performers and visitors to the event?
For performers – say ‘no’ every now and again! It’s tempting to say ‘yes’ to every PR opportunity, industry party or gig. But it’s important to have chill time.

For visitors – make a schedule before you go, don’t fill it up to much (more than 3 hours of comedy a day is enough for me personally!) but leave a day free to discover acts you have never heard of or do something impulsive.

What has been the funniest or most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you on stage?
I once made a heavily pregnant woman cry and walk out of the room. I just asked her her name but it triggered something and I felt awful. After the show her other half said she had texted him to apologise! I thought it was interesting that he stayed behind but didn’t mention that. Anyway, I will never forget the silence of a room that witnessed me push a woman with child over the edge.

Who are your biggest inspirations in the industry and why?
Gina Yashere for ditching the UK and doing it all herself. Joan Rivers for being so rude to everyone. I also have so much respect for Dan Harmon’s command of storytelling and endless creativity.

Do you have any pre-show rituals?
Check my watch and remind myself to smile because I have serious resting bitch face.

What other acts are you looking forward to seeing at Edinburgh Fringe?
Bilal Zafar, Sophie Duker, Sindhu Vee, Njambi Mgrath amongst others.

Why do you think people should come and see your show over the thousands of others on at the Fringe?
That is an excellent question! Because it’s funny and a bit different, I talk politics and act out a compromising scenario on stage. Something for everyone.

See Athena Kugblenu: Follow The Leader at the Underbelly throughout the Edinburgh Festival Fringe from 1st – 26th August.


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