Russian-born comedian Olga Koch coming soon to Cambridge
If/Then is Olga Koch’s second live comedy hour and comes after a sell-out run with extra dates added at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe.
The show has Olga – an Edinburgh Comedy Awards nominee in 2018 – telling a love story through the medium of computer science, the subject the 27-year-old studied at university.
In this feminist investigation into what happens when we can’t separate emotion and technology, Olga teaches the audience how to code, and how to explore what happens when our expectations for romance, happiness and Michael Bublé no longer compute.
Although she moved to the United States at 17 – and also attended New York University – Olga now lives in the UK and spoke to the Cambridge Independent from London.
“If/Then is a show that I wrote about being in university as a 19-year-old,” she explains. “I started studying computer science at university and at the same time I started my first ever relationship.
“The show is an exploration of my misguided attempts to understand human emotion through the prism of computer science.”
On the reference to Michael Bublé, Olga, who was born in St Petersburg, Russia, says: “There’s an anecdote in the show that involves Michael Bublé that is quite amusing, because I met him at an internship and he wasn’t what you would expect – in an amusing way.”
Olga says that the first live comedy hour she did, which was called Fight, was about her family, whereas this second one is about her.
If/Then also has a bit of politics thrown in. “I think If/Then definitely has a bit of today’s political edge in its mood and themes,” says Olga.
“I think inevitably a lot of how you as a stand-up comedian express your opinions on stage will indirectly become political.
“I think my opinions and my views are clear when I perform, but that doesn’t mean that I’m a political comic, or I call anyone out by name – apart from Michael Bublé, of course.”
At what point did Olga decide that comedy, not computer science, was her thing?
“I was like, ‘I’ve completed this male-dominated field, let’s go onto a new one’,” she laughs, adding: “I’ll sometimes tinker about for fun [on the computer] but not in a way that is paying the bills.”
Despite her background, it is hard to detect even a hint of a Russian accent in Olga’s Americanised tones.
“I cannot stress enough how much watching Friends in its native language really does the trick when it comes to speaking English,” she says.
“I’m very aware of my accent and I think when I was a teenager, I made the very conscious effort of sounding the way that I do. I have lived here almost six years and I think in a way maybe my cadence has changed into British.
“Some of my American friends are like, ‘Since when do you say ‘reckon’’? But now I do.”
Olga Koch will be at The Junction (J3) on Saturday, February 22, at 8pm. Tickets: £13.50.
Box office: 01223 511511 or junction.co.uk.
More by this authorAdrian Peel