Grace's 'A Show About Me(n)' comes to Cambridge Junction on 7th MarchSarah Harry-Isaacs

Waiting for Grace Campbell to join us, we tap through her Instagram story. She has reposted perhaps the most jarring and awkward video of Matt Hancock yet, very proudly demonstrating his ability to iron a shirt. Funnily enough, nine minutes into our interview, Grace brings the video up, as an example of how absurd the men in our politics and lives can be, as well as how social media can make or break modern celebrities. Social media is an essential part of Grace’s comedy too: “I think there’s only a few creative things you can do now and not have an online presence, and stand-up is just not one of them.”

Grace’s online presence is defined by her headstrong, outspoken nature, but who is she onstage? “It’s the version of me when I’m on a night out, and I’m trying to, like, make everyone laugh”, she replies. “I get on stage and then suddenly I’m this ridiculous version of myself — me on speed, me on crack.”

“Women love [my stand-up]” Grace explains. “They feel seen. They feel like I’m speaking to them and their friends.” What about men? “I don’t think men don’t like it, they feel more attacked, more like the butt of the joke. But actually, the show I’m doing at the moment has a lot [of] very observational stuff about men — and I actually think men enjoy that stuff. Because they’re like, oh, at least she’s talking about us.”

Breaking into the world of comedy as a woman is a tricky venture. “You just have to be quite ruthless, I think, when you’re trying to start doing stand up. You have to pester people.” Grace tells us that persistence and getting over the initial embarrassment of begging for slots are essential. “You have to be a bit annoying — that is very out of my character because my whole life I’ve been desperate to be cool.”

“All of the women that I’ve admired in comedy are people who say really uncomfortable things”

Grace’s current comedic inspirations include Chelsea Handler and Joe Lycett, and she sees glimpses of herself in both of them. “When I watch Chelsea Handler, I can see myself when I’m her age being that kind of vibe. She just doesn’t give a shit.” Grace acknowledges the importance of those who came before her — figures like Mae West and Joan Rivers who empowered her to speak her mind. “All of the women that I’ve admired in comedy are people who say really uncomfortable things,” she tells us. “It’s a great way to encourage other women to call out [...] bullshit”.

Female support networks have been vital for Grace, stemming from a positive environment at her all girls’ secondary school. “I think the power of normalising things in a room of loads of other people where we can all laugh about it relinquishes shame and therefore makes women feel more comfortable in themselves.”

Confidence seems a natural part of Grace’s personality, but she still faces the challenge of getting around her unavoidable association with Alastair Campbell — her famous political father. “[At the start, people] definitely defined me too much by who my dad is [...] but I think now I’m at this point where actually what I’m saying is interesting enough.” This isn’t enough for some, though, who still try to reduce Grace to her relationship to a famous man, even during her own shows. This used to rattle her, but when it happens now, she’s unafraid to call it out. “I’m like, that’s so sexist of you. I have done enough now to not be someone’s daughter.”

Last year, Grace went public about being raped while in the States. She admits that this decision was “really terrifying”, and tells us that her main reason for speaking out was to anticipate criticism from those who would blame the assault on her sex-positive comedy, or ask, “How can you talk about this when you haven’t gone to the police?” She didn’t want to put herself through a foreign justice system in which almost “no rapist is ever convicted,” and affirms that she “can be a slut, and then also at the same time never deserved to be assaulted or raped. [...] Those two things can exist at the same time and not cancel each other out.”


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Overall, Grace confirms, the response was “incredibly supportive”, but the way in which certain men responded was “very fascinating”. “I have had some amazing messages for men [...] but men I was dating or men who were trying to shag me around didn’t really acknowledge it” even though “it was kind of unmissable. That just felt really odd to me and actually put me off a lot of men.

“I think men love the idea of me and then hate the reality of me. They love that I’m really confident and loud. But then in reality that means [when I] call them out on shit and am very opinionated, they can’t handle it. That was what I felt when the piece came out.”

With her new tour, A Show About Me(n), coming to Cambridge in March, Grace definitely isn’t going to stop talking about these issues anytime soon. From the deadly serious to Matt-Hancock-ironing-a-shirt levels of silly, Grace knows from personal experience that “if you can make those things that have happened yourself funny as well, it can really help to connect with other people. Nobody should ever underestimate the power of comedy.”