Has history taught us nothing? Crusades don’t work! So You Think You’re Funny finalist 2017 and co-author of Don’t Panic I’m Islamic, Esther Manito, brings you her debut hour. With her Fringe show, she takes you on a whirlwind tour of what life is like when you can’t meet the expectations of your identity. Esther spoke to The Fountain about what exactly to expect and how she is performing solo for the first time at the Fringe.

TF: You are performing at the Edinburgh Fringe this year, how exciting?

Yes I am so excited/nervous…and slightly bricking it. Overall though I’m defo excited, as it’s my debut and I have been working on this show for over a year now.

TF: Crusade certainly sounds intriguing, what is the premise?

It’s about the unconscious need we have to group people according to an aspect of their identity. As a British, Arab, Mum I find it fascinating the politics, the culture and ethics I’m expected to represent, by simply calling myself Lebanese, or British or a MUM!? In the current climate where extremism, alt right politics and gender roles are constantly covered in popular media there has increasing become a need to know when I’m on stage “you with us or against us”….

“not massively bruv”

TF: And what drove the project, where did your influences lie?

I think the conception happened when I started comedy three years ago and wrote a crap joke about crafts…I got an angry mum message me on Facebook about my being a terrible mum if I don’t like crafting. I found it INSANE that someone took it a)literally? And b)felt they could comment on my mothering skills??

The more I talked about parenting or my background the more I had comments either online or face to face quizzing where I stood on Islam, or feminism, or motherhood, brexit.. because my material never aligned to one side only. I realised the crusade to force one ideology onto other people is still going strong! So, I have collected the BEST comments I’ve had online and face to face, and some not directed at me but comments taken from mainstream media, and made a show based on the fact that the Crusades are very much happening people! Come on Islamic extremism, the alt right and livid mums….classic comedy material!

TF: Have you been to the Fringe before, is there anything you are keen to see whilst in Edinburgh?

I’ve performed at the fringe the last two years. I was very much still working on my performance skills, material and getting my show narrative fine tuned. I did a split show last year with the excellent Ryan Dalton (also doing his debut this year) and we had a great time learning to work with totally different crowds and re writing material. This year although I am doing a solo show and my only expectation is to improve as a performer. My only hope is that people who come to see my show enjoy it.

I love Edinburgh so I am thrilled to spend time in the city, however, I will have my children with me for a large part, so, they will kick my arse into touch and keep me in a routine. They will ensure we get out to the beautiful surrounding areas and have a muck about.

I am very much looking forward to seeing loads of female comics do some awesome shows this festival: Jen Brister, Sara Barron, Jayde Adams, Laura Lexx… and million more!!!

TF: And what are your future plans beyond Crusade?

Three years ago I was at home with a five month old and a two year old and if you said to me I would stand on stage and tell a joke I would have given you the side eye. Who knows. I have gone on a journey these last three years which have been incredible and I have no idea what’s coming next…. I will keep writing and performing and hopefully just get stronger and stronger!

You can see Esther Manito: Crusade at Gilded Ballon Teviot from 31st July – 25th August (not 12th) at 16:00. For tickets, please visit https://tickets.edfringe.com