“I don’t care if people don’t find me funny. I know I’m funny because it’s the job I do.”
Sarah Millican is addressing what should – and shouldn’t – matter when it comes to comedians. The context? She’s talking about the social media reaction to a dress she once wore, and she isn’t pretending that she wasn’t upset. Personally, I think there should be a uniform for award ceremonies. Just a plain grey linen trouser suit and gym pumps a la Kim Jong-un. They don’t have to do the hair. On second thoughts, let’s have them do the hair as well.
During the reception for Millican’s event at this year’s Manchester Literature Festival, hosted by poet and comedian Kate Fox, there are some potatoes on a wooden skewer. They’re not massive ones, Jersey Royals I reckon, but big enough that I didn’t want anyone to witness me try and eat one, so I left them be. This must be what opera people eat, I think, since we’re at the Royal Northern College of Music and I view this venue and The Bridgewater Hall as the ‘posh’ end of Manchester entertainment.
Everyone outside the enclosure appears to be wandering around with wine siphoned into plastic cups, whereas I could have taken in a dangerous weapon if I wanted. I could have been there to stab Sarah Millican for not wearing a backless number by Versace for all anyone knew.
As it is, I’m back on the sauce after a month booze-free and I’m two wines in, so only capable of laughing and clapping. Which I do. A lot. Millican, much-loved comedian, broadcaster and now author, is testimony to thinking you can do something and then doing it. She makes me – and loads of other people – enormously happy.
In her book How To Be Champion, Millican has detailed the stuff she was bullied for doing, ridiculous things such as “having microwave chips for supper sometimes” and “being in a toilet”. She imagines meeting up with the girls who used to peer over the cubicle and forcing them to watch her have a shit now that she has Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
But success, someone once told me, is always the best revenge. Most of my favourite people were bullied at school. She ends the ludicrous list with “for wearing a flowery dress that people didn’t like”.
You hope you’ve moved on from all the ridiculousness, then some twat starts it up again.
For this particular event, Millican has donned some black jeans and a floaty top. Her hair is darker than the last time I saw her on the telly, and she’s wearing her glasses, obviously. She looks comfortable and lovely.
By Cathy Crabb (wearing Tesco pyjama bottoms and a T-shirt I won at Slamchester in 2005)
How To Be Champion is published by Orion Books and is now available to buy.