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Deborah Frances-White – 10 Edinburgh questions
She has something of a cult following herself, after the slow-burning success of her show How To Get Almost Anyone To Want To Sleep WIth You. Now Deborah Frances-White has a new one, about her days as a Jehovah's Witness
1. What is your show about?
Cult Following is a stand-up comedy show about how I went from being a Jehovah’s Witness to an atheist comic in no easy steps. It’s about how I joined a cult, what I learned knocking on your door, how it prepared me for stand up comedy and how I got out. I hope you will laugh a lot – while being secretly freaked out at life inside a cult.
2. Describe it in 3 words.
Funny, freaky, feisty.
3. What is your favourite part of the show?
Seeing the audience get a bit freaked out by one of my stories about being trapped in a house by a load of bikers.
4. Complete this sentence: if you like ... my last show ... then, hell, you might just like my show.
5. If your show were a dog, what type of dog would it be?
Scooby Doo. Funny and endearing.
6. If you could change one thing about the Fringe, what would it be?
I could do with less walking up hills in the rain.
7. Name 3 other shows you'd recommend seeing.
Coaltion (hysterical, thought-provoking play about the demise of the Liberal Democrats), The Temps (hilarious show about temping), Hannah Gadsby’s Mary Contrary (the funniest art history lecture you’ll ever see).
8. What would you be doing this summer if you weren't in Edinburgh?
Oh god – don’t make me think about beaches, books and Black Russians – that’s completely unfair. I have to work.
9. How do you now greet Jehovah's Witnesses if they knock on your door?
I’m always nice because I’ve walked thousands of miles in their shoes. Thousands. But I occasionally ask them provocative questions to get them to think twice. It’s fairly fruitless most of the time, but once or twice I think I’ve seen something crack. I can’t tell them I used to be a Witness or they won’t talk to me.
10. Re your last show, are there similarities between religious enrolment, and seduction?
Yes. Lots. Firstly, I did the show How to Get Almost Anyone To Want To Sleep With You show because I had to learn it from scratch in my 20s. I had literally no experience before I left the Witnesses. Women are meant to be in subjection to men in that religion – and I never looked like I was going to be (because I wasn’t), so guys avoided me. How to Get Almost Anyone ... was really a show about confidence, self-esteem and breaking out – which was in many ways a feminist treatise. But a super-louche and funny one.
There’s a section in this show about how trying to convert someone as a Jehovah’s Witness is exactly like seducing someone – except way more difficult in my experience.