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Member interview: Anna Black

Anna Black

Anna Black is without doubt one of Comedy Soup's most recognisable and prolific contributors. Her films are distinctive and unconventional in style and demonstrate a passion for old-fashioned physical comedy. And all this began thanks to a canal and a camera phone?

Comedy Soup: Who are you, and what was the last thing you ate?

Anna Black: Who am I? Where am I? What am I? What's with all these questions guys? I am Anna Black. I'm a film maker, performer, and all round generally jolly person.

The last thing I ate was a large cookie with chocolate bits. It was ok, if a little bland.

Comedy Soup: How did you meet Elise Harris? We love it when a duo forms under our noses.

Anna Black: First contact with Elise Harris was on Comedy Soup through her films. Emailed her and said I liked them. She has never said anything nice about mine. Ever...

By watching her work I realised that she had a similar sense of humour to me, so I purposely sought her out to destroy her talent. We physically met (not in the biblical sense) at the Edinburgh Festival last year where we did some filming together and stalked the Comedy Soup people at the Pleasance Courtyard.

We do very different things, but seem to complement each other well when we get the time to work together. I'm funny and she's sexy, or is that the other way round? Something like that?

Comedy Soup: We can't describe your style in words, can you explain it?

Anna Black: I make it up as I go along, rarely plan anything. Like in the olden days.

Comedy Soup: Do you think there's a difference between male and female comedy or do you think that laughter is universal?

Anna Black: Personally I think comedy is just about rhythm and timing and if you have both of these you won't get pregnant.

Comedy Soup: You make us laugh, but what makes you laugh?

Anna Black: I love silent comedians, especially Buster Keaton, Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy, Roscoe Arbuckle, Benny Hill, Harold Lloyd, and music hall guys like Arthur Askey. I really admire Mark Thomas, Sue Perkins, Robert Newman, Eddie Izzard, Chris Morris, Steve Coogan, Our Lord Simon Pegg, John Shuttleworth (aka Graham Fellows - he once called me a goth you know!), radio comedy like The Goons, I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again, and I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue (did you ever see my Mornington Cresent film? Humph loved it!), and of course grew up watching repeats of Python (I'm a huge Terry Gilliam fan). Being a comedian too I also love live stand up. Rhod Gilbert is one of the funniest men alive, and We are Klang are just awesome.

Comedy Soup: Who would win in an arm wrestle between Jack White and Jack Black?

Anna Black: Jack Black of course! Oh, c'mon he is a god of Tenacious D proportions! No contest...

Comedy Soup: If you could have three superpowers what would they be, and why?

Anna Black:

  1. "Supersmiles" - create an infectious smile that would travel the world, and do jolly good things with it.
  2. "Supermarshmallow Mouth" - be able to eat an infinite number of marshmallows at one sitting without throwing up.
  3. "Superpower Power" - be able to have an indeterminate number of superpowers on request and not feel under pressure to answer in a non political way. Ha ha!

Comedy Soup: What are you currently working on - anything for the site?

Anna Black: Making daft improvised shorts as per usual.

Working hard editing my first feature documentary about the Edinburgh Fringe Festival last year. It's a 90 min film based around my "30 films in 30 days" shows last year at the festival. Also another episode of my "Commodore 64 8-Bit Sid-Chip Sandwich Show" is being filmed right now (did you know I'm a minor celebrity in Scandinavia?) Finding another job!

Anna Black

Comedy Soup: How about the future?

Anna Black: Comedy wise I'm making "Anna Black's History of Britain" at the moment, and lots more silly films. I'm always doing something with my camera. Also collaborating on a sitcom with a talented young writer called Kate Wood about reality television. Performance wise - I'll be about doing character comedy and stand up around the country and my films are showing at various festivals too. More Ollyanna street theatre with Olly Broadway down on the South Bank, and lots more improvised theatre, Then maybe back up to Edinburgh in August and who knows another "30 Films in 30 Days" if someone wants to pay me this time!?

More seriously I'm making a documentary about ID cards, and the reduction of our civil liberties. I am also learning Spanish, and going to be travelling the world a bit making "Edinburgh" style documentaries. Have a trip to Sri Lanka and India at the end of the year.

Who knows what the future holds? It's going to be fun though!

Comedy Soup: How long have you been making your own comedy?

Anna Black: All my life. I am a big joke! Ha! Always been playing around and learning it in some capacity whether audio or visual. I've always done impressions of people. I can do a wicked Tom Baker...

Comedy Soup: Who or what inspired you to get started?

Anna Black: I started making films by accident, using my mobile phone at Teddington Lock where they filmed Monty Python's Fish Slapping Dance, and my inspiration was my comedy buddy friend and other Comedy Soup user - Debra-Jane Appelby. She showed me how you can stitch two bits of footage together on her laptop. After that, there was no stopping me. The second film I made had 67 cuts and was a music video - so it's her bloody fault. I don't like editing too much though, it's such a lonely and personal process. The Edinburgh film is a nightmare, but the end result is worth all the time and perfectionism!

Comedy Soup: What's been your proudest achievement or the most fun thing you've done so far?

Anna Black: Making 31 films in 30 days; making a film of the game Mornington Crescent and getting it seen by the ISIHAC team; meeting my hero Barry Cryer; seeing my films on a big screen at a film festival, and winning an award too and achieving my ambition of making 50 short films in one year 3 months early in September - madness!

Comedy Soup: Apart from this interview, what's been your worst experience so far?

Anna Black: My laptop dying during the Edinburgh Festival last year and nearly losing everything. BACK UP everyone! BACK UP!

Comedy Soup: Which other Comedy Soup members make you laugh and what's your favourite submission?

Anna Black: Mr Stott makes me howl, especially his film CHEESE. Oh, and The Slagg Bros (Wristbands), and Elise (The Greatest). How could I forget my bestest buddies from Wales and that Harris woman!

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