Originally not aired on ??/??/????
Surely, he can’t be doing another series, can he? Surely, he’s not come to save us from our misery yet again, feeding us with the kind of unique content we’ve been starving for, filling our bellies with delicious unrecorded hilarity, not asking for anything in return except for likes and hopefully a few direct messages that will boost his fragile ego and keep the inner demons partially at bay for the difficult Autumn and Winter months ahead.
Well, in a word: yes, I am, actually.
Who am I going to choose as my first guest for the second Halloween series of my podcast, “Comedians Outside Edinburgh Getting Pumpkin Spice Lattes”? Well the answer to that question is as easy as 1,2,3; simple as do-re-mi – it’s Celya AB.
“Bonjour, Celya,” I said, knowing Celya originally comes from France.
“Hello, Eric,” Celya said, knowing how to speak English.
“So, Celya,” I said, “how do you think having the first two letters of the alphabet as your surname has influenced your comedy?”
“I don’t know how to respond to that.”
Not so confident with the English now is she.
For the rest of the interview, I made sure to speak slower. If this podcast was recorded, I’d be advising my listeners at this point to be changing to 2x playback speed.
Born somewhere in France 24 years ago, Celya moved to Birmingham when she was 19 to pursue a career in comedy, and a seasoned debater would be able to make a reasonable argument in favour of that being a good decision. Celya has been so moderately successful in the last few months that she’s started to attract jealousy from certain corners of the West Midlands comedy scene. From being a woman, to incautiously accepting terms and conditions on webpages, Celya has been accused of being a bit of a “box ticker”.
Although I disagree with these ridiculous accusations, it’s my job as an interviewer to put my personal feelings to one side and ask the questions that need answering:
“Celya, was it a conscious decision to be a woman, or did it just sort of happen? Be honest.”
“Again, I have no idea how to respond to that.”
I was starting to get confused. Whenever I’ve spoken to Celya before, her English has been impeccable. If it wasn’t for her tendency to look down on people, you wouldn’t even be able to tell she was French. Her sentences run so smoothly it’s like they’re the opposite of the Brexit process – a process that will unfortunately one day see her removed from this country, either for legal reasons, or because of increasing instances of xenophobic hate crimes that will make her feel both unwelcome and scared for her safety. Sad times.
Maybe it was the pressure of being interviewed that was affecting Celya’s capacity to understand and speak English? Pressure can do crazy things to the human mind.
It’s like when you’re at a pub quiz and you get the question “Who played Neo in the 1999 film ‘The Matrix’?” and you say Vic Reeves and everyone laughs at you and it’s super embarrassing and to this day people still take the piss.
To make Celya feel more comfortable, I halved the speed at which I was speaking once again and decided to ease up on the questions.
“Let’s just have a bit more of a chat, Celya,” I said. “Forget about the switched-off microphones and let’s just pretend we’re two mates having a delicious pumpkin-spiced coffee.”
From this point on I felt the conversation was much more natural. I found out about Celya’s influences. She said growing up she used to be a big fan of Mitchell & Webb -- “I just loved the way they’d be able to be silly and intellectual at the same time.” We bonded over this, as I too had been inspired by a double-act in my formative years. I used to absolutely love Keanu & Bob from Shooting Stars.
As pumpkin-spice danced around on my taste buds, my spirit left my body for a second and I hovered above the table to have a gander at the situation. (This happens to me sometimes during the Halloween period, don’t worry, let’s not go into it.) And you know what? It’s funny how sometimes as a disembodied spirit you can see things differently, some would argue more clearly. Looking down, I didn’t see a French person sat opposite one of the most original new comedians in the country. What I actually saw was two friends, two EU citizens (at the time of writing) connecting. I realised that nationality is arbitrary. It doesn’t matter whether you’re French or British. It doesn’t matter whether you eat croissants, or whether you prefer something more traditionally British like a Chinese takeaway. What matters is that we’re all people, just trying our best. Surely that’s the true message of Halloween.
I re-entered my body and wrapped up the interview.
“Celya, I just wanna say, I’d be happy for someone like you to stay in the country after Brexit.”
“Thank you, Eric.”
I finished my coffee and put my coat on.
“Bonjour, Celya.” I said, knowing that bonjour is of course both hello AND goodbye in French.
“Au revoir, Eric.”
See you next time! X