Interview: Comedian/actress Tiff Stevenson
A regular fixture on our TV screens, Tiff Stevenson is back on tour and out to show that stepmothers are not cartoonish villans.
A well-known face of British comedy, Tiff Stevenson’s latest stand-up show, Mother, looks at the ‘extreme sport of being a woman’.
Critically acclaimed, the show premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival’s Monkey Barrell in August 2019, before heading to the USA for several sold-out shows in Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco. It will be coming to the Junction in September.
Speaking to the Cambridge Independent a week before she was due to fly out to the US for further dates, Tiff says the first few shows she did over there went well: “I really enjoyed it,” she says. “San Francisco had comedy festival Sketchfest happening, so I was lucky enough to get to do the show and then drive the Pacific Coast Highway, which was a fantastic experience that I’ve always wanted to do.”
On the show’s popularity stateside, Tiff, 41, says: “Americans seem to be really responding to it – lots of blended families and step-parents in America, so I think that’s why it’s striking a chord because it’s about blended families. It’s also about reproductive rights, it’s about modern families...
“That kind of old idea of what a family unit is, that it’s a heterosexual couple who’ve been married and who have 2.4 children, is changing and I think it’s a show that is reflective of that, and of choices and how we choose to love.”
The show also addresses Tiff’s experiences as a stepmother. “The stepmother is very much an unseen member of the blended family,” suggests Tiff.
“So often at the end of the show, I’ll get a lot of stepmothers coming over to say, ‘Thank you for doing the show and thank you for talking about our experience’ because it’s often only ever seen in a cartoonish, kind of villainous framing.”
Tiff, who filmed a TV pilot for Channel 4 over Christmas, notes that Mother – her third stand-up tour – was in the top 20 best-reviewed shows at last year’s Edinburgh Festival. “Like I say, people seem to really connect with it,” she says.
“Sometimes you hit something that lots of people experience but aren’t talking about, and I think people find a moment of connection within that.”
As well as appearing on popular television series such as Mock the Week, 8 Out of 10 Cats, and The Apprentice -You’re Fired, Tiff has also appeared in two great British sitcoms: The Office and White Gold.
Her role in The Office involved her being accosted by unwelcome would-be suitors in a nightclub. Did she experience similar behaviour in her clubbing days?
“That was such a long time ago now,” says Tiff, “and a lot of the stuff that people used to do then just wouldn’t fly now – whether it be physically grabbing you when you were dancing in the nightclub...
“I remember fitting moves into my dance style that were very elbow-sharp, in case someone just decided that they wanted to dance up on top of me and enter my dance space.
“But the idea of going clubbing now... I saw a queue outside a nightclub, I was in Manchester doing shows recently and I thought ‘I literally cannot think of anything worse’.”
Tiff Stevenson will be appearing at the Junction (J3) on Saturday, September 12 at 8pm. Tickets: £15.
Box office: junction.co.uk.
More by this authorAdrian Peel