Naomi McDonald talks about bringing celebrity impressions and spoof songs to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Name: Naomi McDonald
Name of Edinburgh show: Stardumb
Venue: Arch III, Fireside, 20 East Market St, EH8 8BE (Venue 75)
Performance time: 15:45
Show length: 60 mins
Ticket price: Free

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your performing background?
I’ve just featured in Radio 2’s Celebrity Lip Service.

I was talent spotted aged seven and did my first professional voiceover, a Nickelodeon ad for S Club 7. Since then (I’m now 29) I’ve been honing my ability to switch voices, mimic the famous and conjure up characters of every kind.

My dad is the New Yorker Mac McDonald whose many roles included Captain Hollister in Red Dwarf. Aged 11 I joined Mac and my older sister Jess on stage as The McDonalds touring a cabaret set of comedy and a cappella Doo Wop songs for about two years.

My mum is from a Hungarian, Lithuanian, Irish, Jewish family with a rich tradition of theatre and song. My great grandmother Gertrude Shillman was an amateur actress in Dublin at the start of the 20th century and my grandfather was a respected cantor in his local Synagogue.

I was born in Holloway, North London, and attended the National Youth Theatre in 2006 and vocal tech music school 2007. In 2007 I began writing and performing as Naomi Jasmine, with my full jazz-soul band and gigged alongside the likes of Jessie J Katy B.

I’ve been doing solo stand up routines since 2015, appearing across the country at venues like The Camden Comedy Club, the Caroline of Brunswick in Brighton and played Komedia Brighton with Funny Women. In 2016 I was part of the sell out run of the Edinburgh Fringe Newsrevue 2016 team in the Pleasance Courtyard.

Many Fringe-goers might know my work, either as the lead in the Sky drama series Kiss of Death in 2017 or currently as the voice of Clare in Cartoon Network series ‘The Amazing world of Gumball’ and Jet Pad in CBeebies ‘Go Jetters’.

Tell me about your show, what it is all about?
Stardumb reveals the secret lives and longings of famous names including Katie Price, Drew Barrymore, Kim Kardashian, Cheryl Cole, Janet Street Porter and Fearne Cotton. Nigella Lawson defrosts meals in her bathtub, Melania Trump hits the bottle hard and Adele sings her heart out over a custard cream.

It’s a chance to see celebs as you’ve never seen them before. There’ll be Katie Hopkins dancing to Backstreet Boys and Ellie Goulding singing about her struggle to be a vegan. It’s fast, fun and full of impressions, spoof songs and audience participation. Sharon Osbourne, Jodie Marsh, Emma Watson, Britney Spears, Kylie Minogue, Kerry Katona, Rihanna and even Bear Grylls will all be there, so I really hope you can come along and join them.

How long have you been working on this show and what is it that makes it relevant to audiences in 2018?
I’ve been working on it for more than a year. But I keep it right up to the minute. If I discover something’s happened involving one of the people in my show I’ll try to weave it in – even if it’s only five minutes before I go on stage.

Do you have any top tips for surviving the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – both for performers and visitors to the event?
For performers- Berocca and Beer, in equal doses. For punters- wear layers. Outside you may feel the cool celtic breeze upon your neck…inside a packed room above a pub, it may reach 30 degrees and you will be more than ready to strip down to your vest.

What has been the funniest or most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you on stage?
It didn’t happen on stage, but off stage during my Edinburgh run of the notorious sketch show Newsrevue in 2016. I was in the wings attempting to make a quick change into my Nicola Sturgeon costume when I suddenly realised my ginger wig was missing. I was running around like a mental chicken, quietly screaming at a fellow cast mate to help me find it, but no such luck. Then just seconds before my musical cue was played- I shoved my arm into my tartan suit jacket and the wig flew out of the arm. I swore I wouldn’t do sketch comedy again after that fiasco. That was a blatant lie… but it was bloody stressful.

Who are your biggest inspirations in the industry and why?
As a kid I was introduced to legendary sketch shows like French and Saunders and Bottom. I would consider Jen Saunders and Rick Mayal to be two of my biggest comedy idols who rocketed my love for character comedy. I’ve also been inspired by a lot of Jewish comedians including Sarah Silverman, Larry David and Sacha Baron Cohen.

Do you have any pre-show rituals?
Weeing. I cannot wee enough times before show time.

What other acts are you looking forward to seeing at Edinburgh Fringe?
Abandoman – the musical impro god. Also Tom Ward – ridiculously funny and one of my favourite stand-ups currently on the circuit.

Why do you think people should come and see your show over the thousands of others on at the fringe?
When else are you going to get the opportunity to take a street dance class with Katie Hopkins? It’s a show packed full of celebrities and spoof songs to suit all and I can definitely promise that it’s the free show that gives you more for your money.

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