Cally Beaton will soon be celebrating an impressive milestone with her weekly hit podcast ‘Namaste Motherf**kers’. On 2nd March, she is set to achieve her 100th podcast episode that will include a star-studded list of guests such as Seann Walsh, Richard Osman, Deborah Meaden and Danny Wallace.
Entertainment Now chats to Beaton to find out more about her weekly podcast, her career as a comedian and what’s next for her.
Before becoming a comedian you worked as a high-profile TV executive, what sparked the change of career at the age of 45?
I worked over a couple of decades with Comedy Central in the US, as part of my senior management role for the ViacomCBS family, and would meet A list celebrities when we were on the road promoting their shows.
I had the pleasure of working with the late great Joan Rivers on a couple of occasions. We would lay on industry shindigs and my task was to keep jaded drunken TV executives vaguely warmed up and awake before she, or whoever it was, took to the stage. I had dinner with Joan, just the two of us, a couple of weeks before she died, and she unexpectedly suggested I take up stand-up.
I was 45 at the time and thought it was too late – I was a single mum of two kids, one of them with special needs, and had a massive day job. She looked me in the eye and said ‘I’m 81. What’s stopping you?’.
Two weeks later she died. Two weeks after that I did my first stand-up gig. And to quote another late great comedian, Bob Monkhouse: ‘Everybody laughed when I said I wanted to be a comedian. They’re not laughing now’.
How did COVID affect this change of career?
Giving up a secure board level job to become a full-time comedian right before a global pandemic isn’t career advice I’d be doling out to anyone, to be fair. My diary completely emptied, as it did for so many people, over that infamous 48-hour period in March 2020 and a couple of big TV opportunities were among the many things that fell away.
Then I came down with a seriously bad case of COVID. But when I’d recovered I hustled my way, as I had into TV in the first place, into various things that kept me going, mentally and financially – not least Zoom comedy, which I oddly liked. I think it’s because of my time working with people like Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart on their US talk shows – so I saw the Zoom world more as an opportunity to land well-written comedy monologues, as opposed to crow barring a live stand-up onto screen.
Can you recall a favourite audience you had? Or worst?
I won’t name a worst because I subscribe to the general rule that you can’t blame a bad gig on the audience. My favourite audience though was at the first really big gig I did – the inaugural Women’s Equality Party conference in 2016 at the Victoria Warehouse in Manchester. Sandi Toksvig was hosting and Sara Pascoe on the bill.
It was a packed venue – about 3000 women in the audience – and my stuff, to my surprise and relief, went down really well. It made me think maybe, just maybe, I could actually do this.
You made your Live At The Apollo debut appearance last Christmas. How did this come about?
It’s the same for everyone, I think – the production team are out scouting for talent night after night in the weeks and months leading up to each series and you hope to be lucky enough a) for them to see you and b) for them to like you. I’d heard word that I’d been on their radar for a couple of years (they’d seen me live several times over that period) and then I got the call from my agent telling me it was actually happening.
I cried (happy tears), then I panicked, then I ended up loving every second. (Then I cried again because my Dad and my son were in the audience and it all meant so very much on the day.)
In 2021 you also launched a new podcast series ‘Namaste Motherf**kers’ and have featured some fantastic guest celebrities. Has there been a most memorable guest?
I’ve loved so many of the conversations I’ve been lucky enough to have but I’d say a recent episode with Dr Kevin Dutton (who co-wrote The Good Psychopath’s Guide with Andy McNab) is right up there as one of my favourites; definitely stuff you wouldn’t normally get to hear on a podcast!
I’m proud of the early episodes too with Rosie Jones and Richard Osman when we were working out what the podcast was – we started strong! – and then if you fast-forward to this week, Deborah Meaden’s episode is an absolute cracker.
What can listeners expect from the podcast?
The way I describe it is as the only podcast where the worlds of work, comedy and well-being collide; the podcast where the life-changing stuff happens.
Think Desert Island Discs, in terms of depth of interview and life/death revelations, but without the music and with more laughs along the way. One of the things that makes the podcast most stand out is how vulnerable, open and honest our guests end up being – we don’t want just to uncover the stories we’ve all heard or read about before; we go further than that, unlocking the more surprising and arresting (not literally!) stories.
There’s a lot of laughing and sometimes crying. Each episode culminates in our guest identifying three things: their own Namaste Mother**king life-changing moment, their favourite joke, and the life advice they most want our listeners to hear. So as well as feeling good, listeners have things to take away too.
With a career as extensive and varied as yours, what’s your main piece of advice for anyone trying to break into the entertainment industry?
That a no isn’t necessarily a no, so try not to get dispirited or take no for an answer. Find another, creative way in and if what you’re doing’s not working, try something else. And treat everyone well who you meet on the way up, because they’ll remember that when you meet them again on the way down.
What’s next for you this year?
We have some fabulous podcast guests coming up including: Deborah Meaden, Kirsty Wark, Mariella Frostrup, Richard Coles and Philippa Perry. It’s our 100th episode in March which we’ll be marking with a star-studded compilation of our most famous and popular guests’ life-changing moments – big names, sharing their wow moments.
We have some live shows planned for later in the year and there’s even a Namaste Motherf**king book in the works! Outside of the podcast, I’ll be busy gigging at clubs up and down the country, as well as hosting corporate events and awards shows. I’ve even surprised myself by becoming popular on TikTok – so I’ll keep that up, if only to embarrass the kids.