Tiffany Stevenson: ‘We have to make mistakes in public’

Tiffany Stevenson previews Mad Man at The Spinnaker Tower on Monday
Tiffany Stevenson previews Mad Man at The Spinnaker Tower on Monday
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Building on its reputation for fine comedy nights, the Spinnaker Tower is playing host to a short season of Edinburgh Festival previews. Over three nights, six renowned comics will be roadtesting their full shows here before they head north. Up on Monday are Gary Delaney and Tiffany Stevenson. She’ll be previewing her sixth solo Edinburgh show, Mad Man.The Guide spoke to Tiff about the new show.

So, what’s this show all about?

Mad Man has a couple of meanings, because the show is a little bit about identity, who we identify as – sometimes I’m quite masculine, and there’s a theory that a woman is a man who’s gone mad because she’s seen too much of the pain in the world. But there’s also quite a lot about advertising – whether we’re being sold our personalities and how much of what we’re sold makes up what we are and makes up our opinions.

This won’t be your first preview, how has it been going so far?

I’m a few in, so it’s a bit of a moveable feast at the minute, there’s definitely stuff in there that’s taking shape.

There are a couple more previews before I get to you so it should be in pretty good shape by the time I get to you guys. The stuff is what I’ve worked up throughout the year at clubs and stuff, so I know the material is there.

How do you feel about doing these work in progress gigs?

It is literally the only way it works. We have to make our mistakes in public and be able to make our mistakes in public. The only way you know the beats and timings is when you do it in front of the audience. Sometimes you will do a piece of material and think that was the punchline, but the audience laughed here. What did I do?

You have to show the bones of what you do.

Which comes first, the show’s theme or the jokes and then you find a theme that fits the material?

I’ve done it both ways, actually. The first thing I tend to, especially if it’s topical or political, is see how I feel about it, and find the funny in that. I prefer to see how I feel about stuff.

Sometimes I feel like something is coming up a lot in my stand-up and it feels like a scene coming together, or actually I want to talk about this this year, like optimism, or ageing, or whatever, and it grows out of this.

Before the comedy took off, you were an actress. How did you end up in Dizzee Rascal’s music video for Dirtee Cash?

A friend of mine was directing it. It was a director I’d done acting classes with years before. He just said ‘do you want to do it?’

I still do the acting. I’ve just done a series called People Just Do Nothing which starts on BBC3 next Wednesday. It’s a mockumentary.

*Steve Hall and Dane Baptiste will perform on Tuesday, and Ed Gamble and Angela Barnes have their turn on Wednesday. All are hosted by Guide Award winning comic James Alderson. Tickets cost £8 per night. Go to