Ipswich: Still growing old disgracefully, Fascinating Aida’s Dillie Keane interviewed
- Credit: Archant
Charm Offensive sums up comedy cabaret trio Fascinating Aida’s new show perfectly.
“I should warn people, it needs to come with a health warning,” laughs founder Dillie Keane who, with Adèle Anderson and Liza Pulman, play the Ipswich Regent tomorrow. “It’s good fun, but it’s quite salty, quite saucy, so I do warn people - ‘don’t get upset and say we didn’t warn you’.”
Formed in 1983, the group are never off the road and are too old to retrain she jokes as they enjoy growing old disgracefully.
“It (our material) has changed very gradually... when we were babies, going out 30 years ago, it was considered a bit risqué then. Now I look back and I think how tame it was. Times have changed, not just us.”
Being saucy has its benefits.
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“You can say things that are much tougher as a result. We’ve a song called Spending Nigel’s bonus, written from the point of view of the wives of these husbands who they never see because they’re so busy obsessively earning like hamsters on a golden wheel and what their lives are like. Occasionally we do these corporate gigs and I’ve met one or two. You think ‘who are these people’. At the end people go ‘oh, right, you’re not celebrating these people’.”
Their songs range from the recession themed Double Dip and the hilarious Ofsted Song (or A Teacher’s Lot Is Not A Happy One) to Cheap Flights, which has had more than 10million YouTube hits.
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“It was slightly unfair that it sort of implicates... because actually Ryanair’s not the worst. I’m actually quite a fan of Michael O’Leary, he’s made flights very inexpensive for people and he’s not one of these registered in Monaco guys, he pays his tax to the Irish government,” says Keane.
The Ofsted Song is a relatively new addition to the show. They’re thrilled with the response it’s had.
“We never, ever, take suggestions from the audience... there’s a very funny thread at the moment on Facebook, Adèle’s in Grand Canaria covered in really horrid jellyfish stings and a woman said ‘we expect a jellyfish song very soon’. I went ‘no, there really isn’t a song about jellyfish’.
“Anyway, teachers had been coming up asking ‘when are you going to write a song about Ofsted, when are you going to write a song about teaching, league tables’ and so. We thought, actually, that’s a very good thing. Now the problem is people are saying when are you going to write a song about the health service,” laughs Keane, who between acting jobs would sing songs from shows or the Great American Songbook in a wine bar with some friends.
“I’m torn between the idea of wanting to see Michael Gove (Secretary of State for Education) quietly disappear to where he came... on the other hand, if he does go we’ll have to re-write the song horribly.”
The latest tour, says Keane, is a real mix of the general and the personal; she thinks it’s their most personal show to date. Take the song Prisoner of Gender, about Anderson’s gender reassignment.
“That’s going down incredibly well, it’s very personal and sweet and people cheer at the end.”
Anderson was very reluctant, but Keane kept writing little bits, pledging she didn’t have to sing it if she didn’t want to. When she did...
“People were absolutely stunned to start with... it’s an incredibly sweet song, it’s not an in your face, angry campaign. There are a few who go ‘oh my God, we didn’t realise’ and others go ‘oh where is this song going’. Then they realise that it’s about her to start with but it opens up and becomes about everybody; at the end it says we are what we are, we’re all unique and we should celebrate that.
“Funnily enough I just had an email today from this woman about how important that song was for her to listen to. I don’t know what her personal history is but it was the sweetest letter.”
Rehearsals are a hoot, with Keane likening her 31-year working partnership with Anderson as like waking up and realising you’ve married someone you didn’t fall in love with, you don’t remember proposing to and you certainly have never been to bed with.
“That’s quite a strain on a relationship, however we have never lost our sense of humour and Liza (part of the group 10 years) is a perfect foil for the two of us... I think it’s the best threesome on stage and off stage... she’s taken the heat out of the fact that it’s always the two of us and somebody else.”
Do they goad each other on to be naughtier?
“Every single one of us will come up with a line and the other two will go ‘no, no’, laughs Keane, inspired to form Fascinating Aida after writing a funny little anti-love song around the time the alternative circuit started. They wrote a couple more, got some commissions and the rest is history.
Her advice for people coming to tomorrow night’s show, make sure the doctor’s checked your heart.
“We get people saying ‘I nearly bust a gut’ or ‘my husband was nearly carried out laughing’. Some people do seem to find it very funny so hopefully they’ll go on finding it funny,” she laughs. “There’s always that nagging fear in the back of your mind that one day the laughs will run out but thank God they haven’t so far.”