“At the moment if you are woman over 40 and have an opnion it means you’re a ‘Karen’ – but I’d like to take another look at that,” says Tiff Stevenson.
The stand up, actress and writer, plans to take a more nuanced view of life in her new show ‘Sexy Brain’.
Stevenson, fresh from a stint on her first feature film, ‘Slotherhouse’ would like to overthrow common misconceptions about being blonde, female and in your forties.
“I think I had a mid life crisis,” she says. “I dyed my hair pink, bought a convertible and moved to Hollywood.”
Self diagnosed with ADHD, Stevenson decided instead to reclassify her brain as: ‘Sexy’.
“I want to be seen as smart but I also have big boobs and blonde hair. I like the image of a sexy brain – a sexy brain on legs.”
There’s often a political underpinning beneath Stevenson’s unconventional take on modern life and she often uses her comic voice look beneath the surface of life and question the status quo.
Stevenson spent a lot of lockdown having chats with her mum, which made her think about women’s relationships with other women and about how things have changed.
“Mothers have this great thing I call a Nonpliment. It’s like a compliment which changes at the last minute: ‘That’s a pretty dress – but not for someone with your body shape.
‘She used to work for the Rank organisation – and back then it was expected that people would try and grope you. You didn’t have any recourse – you just got on with it.”
A popular, but unrewarding cul de sac in discussions about comedy is the question of what is ‘woke’ and ‘non woke’ or ‘left wing’ or ‘right wing’. People seem determined to classify themselves as one thing or another – but to Stevenson it doesn’t seem like the full story.
“We’re obsessed with labels. It feels a bit regressive. If you go back to Studio 54 and that era it was all about people taking labels off themselves and just being who they are.”
After sitcom success in the UK with recurring roles in ‘People Just Do Nothing’, ‘Gameface’ and ‘The Office’ Stevenson loves working in the US where TV money is more abundant and you don’t have the British class system to contend with.
“Their thing is that everyone can become president. So if you start off as a stripper and go on to win an Oscar they love that. You wouldn’t get that here. There is such an Oxbridge fixation.”
In America, Stevenson joined a tv writers room and picked up stand up spots in New York and LA.
“New York has a great club scene, with comedy purists but Los Angeles is very fame obsessed. But there is something about America I love. They go in thinking you’re going to be amazing.”
Stevenson notices a lot of younger people in America staying away from drink – although a lot, especially in California, smoke pot and take edibles. “But then I realised it’s because they don’t have a health care system.”
She worries about the impact rising prices and lack of opportunities will have on the younger generation – particularly at the Fringe.
“I feel more than ever the Fringe is becoming inaccessible for young working class performers.”
For herself she is looking forward to the luxury of having a whole month in Edinburgh to finesse a show.
“You always come back a better comic.”
This will be her tenth show at the Fringe and she will come back as a bride, having married her long term partner director Paul Bertellotti in July.
“We met at the Fringe and were planning to marry in a Scottish castle in Autumn but we decided to move it and marry in London.”
“I’ll be a middle aged bride. i’ll be going down the aisle doing a Wordle. But I’m a late bloomer in everything.”
Tiff Stevenson: Sexy Brain, 20.00, Pleasance Courtyard, August 3 – 29