Rachel Parris on the lie that got her into comedy

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SOUTHWOLD, UNITED KINGDOM - 2019/07/21: Comedian Rachel Parris performs on day 3 during the 2019 Latitude Festival at Henham Park. (Photo by Keith Mayhew/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Comedian Rachel Parris performs at the 2019 Latitude Festival (LightRocket via Getty Images)

Comedian Rachel Parris says a well-placed lie and a 'series of accidents' got her into stand-up but has admitted she still has another 'dream' career in mind.

The performer and author, who is married to comedian Marcus Brigstocke, told Kate Thornton on White Wine Question Time that she had always loved performing, being a classical musician and having done some acting, but said musical theatre is 'still the dream'.

Explaining her route into comedy, she said when she was going into musical theatre auditions, she just didn't know any comedians, didn't think it was an option and that it 'sort of found her'.

Read more: Rachel Parris shares trauma of baby loss

First a friend secretly signed her up to audition for a comedy improvisation troupe, for which she was successful, and then one evening she was talking to a comedy promoter who was looking for somebody to fill a slot.

"And I just lied," she told Thornton. "I say it found me. I got it through lying. I said: 'I'm a comedian.' And she said: 'Oh, well, you come along then.'

WATCH: Rachel Parris on getting her start in stand-up comedy

"I was peeing my pants because I didn't know how to do comedy, really. But that was my first ever solo comedy gig. And I just did funny songs and poems, and it went really well.

"It's been quite a strange, ramshackle journey into what's ended up being stand up and satire and that sort of thing."

EDITORIAL USE ONLY Rachel Parris and Marcus Brigstocke during filming for the Graham Norton Show at BBC Studioworks 6 Television Centre, Wood Lane, London, to be aired on BBC One on Friday evening. Picture date: Thursday February 11, 2021. Photo credit should read: PA Media on behalf of So TV/PA Wire
Rachel Parris and Marcus Brigstocke during filming for the Graham Norton Show at 2021. (So TV/PA Wire)

Her book - Advice from Strangers - was partly gathered from audience suggestions that the comedian collected to share at a talk at her former school.

Thornton asked her about the best and worst advice she had received from the audiences, and Parris said that 'follow your dreams' is not the 'great advice that it sounds like'.

Listen to the full episode to hear how a well-placed lie got Rachel her start in stand-up comedy and about collecting weird and wonderful advice from strangers

She said: "I know everyone thinks of it as an ultimately incredibly positive, ambitious thing but my experience has been that it's good to keep reevaluating what your dreams are because you change as a person and your skills change and the world changes.

Read more: Rachel Parris: Lockdown rules were skewed

"There might be, you know, jobs and careers and callings that you don't even know about. Like with me and comedy. I didn't know about comedy, I didn't know that that was an option when I was young."

She said it was important to keep your eyes open and be open minded, and you can find a new dream later on.

Rachel Parris attending the Virgin Media BAFTA TV awards, held at the Royal Festival Hall in London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday May 12, 2019. See PA story SHOWBIZ Bafta. Photo credit should read: Matt Crossick/PA Wire
Rachel Parris at the Virgin Media BAFTA TV awards in 2019. (PA Wire)

"If I'd just followed my dreams, I probably would have just quit performing, because I didn't do that one thing," she said.

She also took aim at people who came up to her after shows to give what they saw as a compliment when they said 'generally women aren't funny' but they liked her show.

Parris admitted: "A little bit of you dies every time you hear after a gig: 'Oh, you were funny, but I don't like female comedians'. That happens a surprising amount."

WATCH: Rachel Parris on motherhood, advice from strangers, and being a woman in comedy

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