TV producer Izzy Mant (The Windsors, Peep Show, Harry & Paul) has been pathologically tactful all her life. She’s run away from conflict and crashed headlong into mistaken identity, public disgrace and the Zimbabwean ambassador. Her Fringe show, Polite Club, combines stand-up, storytelling and hardly any puppetry. The first rule of Polite Club is: you do not talk about Polite Club. Unless someone asks you nicely. Izzy also spoke with The Fountain about Polite Club (shhh) and her plans for August.
TF: You are performing at the Edinburgh Fringe this year, how exciting?
This will be my fifteenth visit to the fringe, but my first as a comedian. I’ve been there with many hats on: as a TV comedy producer looking to develop projects, as a director of comedy shows, back in the day as a student theatre director, and one year as ‘girl on poster’ for someone else’s play. Comedian is an exciting new(ish) hat for me.
TF: Polite Club certainly sounds intriguing, what is the premise?
I can’t tell you, because of the first rule of Polite Club… OK then, it’s a show about the costs of being a polite person in an impolite world. It’s about the ludicrous things we all do to avoid embarrassment. It’s a story of how my own ‘politeness addiction’ took me to a difficult place, and then out the other side with whole new swear words to show for it.
Also it’s a secret club. The kind of secret club that’s advertised on posters and that you can buy tickets for.
TF: And what drove the project?
When I started writing and performing comedy a couple of years ago, people told me I come across as polite. Which was a surprise to me, because I thought I was one of those angry comedians. It’s so annoying when no-one notices you’re annoyed! And then I realised what makes me really angry is all the times I realise I’ve bitten my tongue when I should have spoken out, or said sorry when what I really meant was ‘That’s your fault!’. Judging from the stories people tell me, this seems to be quite a common problem. So I started talking about politeness on the stand-up circuit and I wrote a show about it.
TF: Where did your influences lie?
My comedy influences are too numerous to list, because I’ve had the privilege of working with many of the most brilliant comedy performers and writers in the UK. Little did they know, while I was being polite to them as a producer, I was busy trying to catch a bit of their genius. Not a lot of people know this, but comedy genius is airborne and you can catch it like the flu.
TF: Have you been to the Fringe before, is there anything you are keen to see whilst in Edinburgh?
I’ve been fourteen times before, but this is the first time since the late 90s I’ve been there for the full month, so I’m hoping I’ll have time to see about a hundred shows. There’s so much fantastic comedy and playwrighting talent around at the moment and loads of shows I want to see. Also, every year I intend to go up Arthur’s Seat, and I’ve somehow never got round to it. 2019’s the year.
TF: And what are your future plans beyond your show?
If I manage to make it back down Arthur’s Seat… I’d like to do the show in some other places – find out what the rest of the UK thinks about politeness and rudeness. I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface of research into this subject – I’d like to research it more, maybe write a book, start a podcast… Though if I set myself up as an expert on politeness, I’m worried I’ll never be able to fart in public again.
Izzy Mant’s debut stand up show The Polite Club will be at the Underbelly, Dexter Room, Bristo Square at 14.50 from 31st July – 26th August. For tickets, go to www.edfringe.com