WHEN comedian Sara Pascoe was going through IVF after years of trying to have a baby, the word “success” was used a lot, she recalls.
“I wanted to contrast that with these other things that are seen as representing ‘successful’ lives, such as finding someone we love and having a family,” she explains.
“How do we define success and when do we define it?
“Does it change with age, do we only want things we can’t have? When we attain our goals, do we move the goal posts and become unsatisfied with what we've got and want something else instead?”
She pauses. “I’m 40 now and it’s a reflective time; it feels like a very adult age. Looking back on my life to when I was 14, I really wanted to be on television. That’s where I work now but is it what I imagined it to be?”
All of which sounds very heavy for a stand-up show, but Sara’s new tour, Success Story - which comes to Glasgow next year - is also warm and insightful and very, very funny, littered with daft stories such as the time she had to pretend to be a “crazy, neurotic” superfan of Pete Burns, late figurehead of 80s band Dead Or Alive.
“He did a reality show where he was looking for a PA and I was told I would get 50 pounds cash in an envelope if I kept accosting him in the street,” she grins.
“So, outside a coffee shop in Soho, I had to pretend to be a superfan and hug and kiss him and say how much I love him and see how all these potential PAs would deal with this crazy, neurotic fangirl.”
Sara laughs: “At the end of that day, he said that I scared him which just showed how good my acting was. That show is sometimes repeated on an MTV channel and I’ll get a text or a tweet saying ‘oh my god, I had no idea you were such a Pete Burns fan’.”
Sara and her husband, actor Steen Raskopoulos, got married just before the first lockdown in 2020, having met at an Australian comedy festival two years before.
The couple's first baby was born in February.
Sara opened up about her struggles to have a baby last year, posting on Instagram: “I’ve been shy about posting about my pregnancy, partly my own anxiety after losing one at the beginning of the year, but also awareness of what other people may be going through.
"There can be so much sadness felt alongside the happiness (and luck) of others. However I’m in the third trimester now and realised if I don’t post soon, you’ll see me with a buggy next year and think I stole a kid.”
She added: “Also I conceived via IVF, so huge love and support to anyone going through it or thinking about it. I want you to get everything you deserve and hope you know how brave you are to go on this journey of the unknown.”
Fans of Sara could be forgiven for thinking she knows all about success. After all, this is the woman who has been at the top of the UK stand-up game for a decade, has had her own comedy series Out of Her Mind on the box last year, has written two bestselling books and is a hit as the new host of TV’s loveliest show, The Great British Sewing Bee.
Far from it, she says, which is why she has been fascinated enough by the subject to make it the topic at the heart of her new tour.
She’s desperate to get back on the road.
“In Sewing Bee, I occasionally write jokes for the links, but you’re doing a joke for eight people who are really thinking about sewing; they’re not thinking about your pun on the wrap dress,” she smiles.
After the last couple of years when quite often the prospect of gigging across the country again might have seemed a very long way off, Sara says she is certainly not going to be complaining about the rigours of being on the road.
“Yes, it can be tiring but when you’re in the dressing room before a show and you hear the hubbub of a busy room, you feel very lucky that people will come and see you at all never mind in their hundreds or thousands,” she explains.
“There’s a description in Alan Davies’ book about how walking out on stage as a comedian is the closest you can get to being a toddler taking your first steps towards your excited parents.
“That’s the feeling comedians are trying to recreate by getting this huge round of applause from people who like you and are pleased you are there. That’s the side of it that’s addictive and compulsive.”
Despite her success, Sara says there is “not a chance in hell” she would let it go to her head.
“No one likes to do a mediocre gig, or worse, a flat gig,” she says, simply. “Especially when you’ve earned an audience from TV work, the idea that they might come to see you for the first time and leave disappointed really keeps you going. At the end of a show, you don’t want a crowd going ‘yeah, that was fine’. You want them to say ‘oh god, do you remember that bit?’ And ‘I must tell auntie Susan about this bit’.
“You want an audience to be engaged in what you’re saying. When I watch comedy and want to text my dad about something that was said during a show, I know it was brilliant.”
Sara Pascoe: Success Story is at the Pavilion on February 3, 2023. Tickets are now available from sarapascoe.co.uk.