Jennifer Saunders in Conversation: National Film Theatre, Southbank, London, 2018

I saw Jennifer Saunders talk about her extremely impressive comedy career at the National Film Theatre on London’s South Bank in November 2018.  When I arrived, I was greeted at the NFT entrance and offered a free hug by two women holding a sign that said just that Free Hugs. This had nothing to do with the show after receiving the hug it put me in a very good mood after a stressful day and the right frame of mind for the talk.  I  took my seat in a packed auditorium and was treated to the career of one of the most influential modern comedians of the last thirty years. From starting out in the early eighties as part of the Comic Strip playing the original Comedy Store in London and appearing in Comic Strip films including Five Go Mad In Dorset on Channel 4s opening night to the phenomenon of French & Saunders and the global success of Absolutely Fabulous, questions were thrown over to the audience.   After raising my hand, holding a microphone thrust into my hand by a member of staff I nervously said hello. Saunders and the audience heard my booming voice but couldn’t see where I was sitting. She looked round and got laughs from the crowd. The question I eventually asked was about who her comedy heroes and influences were. American comedians dominated included Joan Rivers, Whoopi Goldberg, Steve Martin and Robin Williams who sweated so much when he did his now legendary performance at the comedy store that she saw, she lent him her tee shirt which stained with sweat came back to her washed and pressed!  As the interview (which featured some very funny big screen clips of her TV work) came to an end; I was very pleased that Saunders mentioned her daughter Beattie Edmondson who was sitting in the audience and her very funny sketch group Birthday Girls who are highly recommended.  It was an extremely entertaining evening acknowledging a British comic great.

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