Writer and star of E4's new sitcom Drifters, Jess Knappett, had given up on her acting dream when her university sketch group landed themselves an agent and a contract with the BBC.
Next thing she knew, she'd found her big break in The Inbetweeners Movie and could finally pack in the flyering jobs she'd begged for after leaving uni as the recession hit.
But how did a girl who doesn't like jokes, once paid her bills by dressing as a giant phone and openly discusses scabies get here? And what advice does she have for those twenty-somethings who've found themselves in a quarter life crisis?
How did you get into comedy?
I was at university in Manchester and had kind of giving up on acting because I thought it was way too competitive. So, I was getting an English and Drama degree to keep me roughly in the same field and as something to fall back on. I didn't think my acting dream would come true.
Then I met five other girls and we started messing about writing sketches. We formed a live sketch group and went to the Edinburgh festival! It all happened quite quickly really. I just blindly went along with it and then, before I knew it, we had an agent and a contract with the BBC. We were actors now, and writers, that's what we did!
Did you consider yourself to be funny?
I think that everyone is funny in their own way! I'm funny when I'm relaxed and around my mates. Some people think I'm hilarious and other people, like my GP who takes my blood for instance, does not think I'm funny. It depends what environment you're in, but I was never the class clown.
My GP, who takes my blood, does NOT think I'm funny!
I'm not really a massive fan of jokes because, this is going to sound so ridiculous, once you've told them they're over! I'm in it for the long game. Call me pretentious but once you've heard a knock knock joke it's done isn't it?
What's it like to be that 20-something today?
Oh god. It's awful. It's hideous. Unless, you're one of the lucky ones and you go straight into a job. But even then you've probably gone into a job you don't really want. The truth is, everyone comes out saying they want to crack on with their career, but if you don't know what you want to do - for the rest of your life! - it's the hardest thing! The problem is commitment... And indecision.
The second episode of Drifters sees your character, Meg, on the world's worst date! I'm on a date, it's going REALLY badly, what do I do?
If the date is really bad, who pays the bill?
If he's clearly behaved badly then he can pick up the bill, but I'm a big believer in going double dutch however badly it's gone. Maybe you should discuss it before you order the starters just to make it as romantic as possible. "Who's getting this by the way? Because I need to decide whether or not to order the most expensive thing on the menu."
Your character contracts scabies in the series and doesn't tell her recent sexual partner. If you contract scabies what should you do?
a) Tell all recent partners
b) Let them figure it out for themselves
c) Announce it on Facebook
The order should be C, announce it on Facebook because that's cathartic! So then C will incite B and then, well then you won't have to do A. Do C instead of A!
Comedy equals tragedy plus time!
Have you ever been dumped on Facebook?
No, but I've been in that situation where you've hooked up with a guy and he's like, "Oooh I don't really want to get into a relationship right now," and you're all like "Yeah neither do I," like it's totally cool. Then he gets a girlfriend on Facebook you're like, "Right, yeah that makes me feel great. Thank you. So you did want a girlfriend you just didn't want it to be me."
What advice would you give a girl trying to get into comedy?
Just live your life. Go and get loads of life experience. Do that first. And also, anything that feels tragic is probably, in a few years or even a few months time, going to be hilarious. Don't worry. The stuff that makes you cry will be funny. Comedy equals tragedy plus time!
Drifters will be available to own on DVD from 25th November 2013.
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