By Kat Mokrynski
“It’s quite nice to be a bit freer and be a bit silly on stage”
Talk to anyone in the arts about the past few years and they will almost certainly mention how the pandemic affected their work. That’s certainly true for Robin Morgan, whose debut tour was ended because of the lockdown. Along the way, he ended up getting married, had two children, and returned to Wales. But what is the show about? Well, if you write a comedy show about your dad and your son, the next logical step is to write about your mum and your daughter, right? That’s exactly what Robin Morgan’s Snip Snip, B*tch is about. Oh, and about vasectomies, too!
Recently, I had the chance to talk to Robin about taking Snip Snip, B*tch on tour across the United Kingdom. We talked about his career in comedy, the origins of the show, and even some interesting audiences questions!
So how did you first get involved in the world of comedy?
Robin: I was always a comedy nerd, a proper fan. When I was a teenager, I remember my uncle showing me an Eddie Izzard special when he was over from New Zealand, where he lives. And I sbit the bug then. And then, when Mock the Week and shows like that came around, I tried to see the people who were on those on tour, went to a comedy club in Cardiff called The Glee Club – I saw they needed bar stuff, so I started working behind the bar there for a few years and then met somebody there who booked an open mic gig. He said, come back in two months for five minutes and stuff. And that was 13 years ago!
Do you feel like your style of performance has changed over the years?
Robin: Yeah, definitely. I’ve got the old videos on my computer that occasionally, when I want to feel a deep shame, I will go back and watch those.
Robin: It’s like I’m doing an impression of a comedian! I think I’ve got little twangs of Russell Howard in there and things, because that’s what I liked, and that’s what I wanted to do. I think that’s what I thought a comedian was, but then, obviously, you take a little while to work out who you are on stage. But yeah, I’m getting hot flashes now thinking about how I used to perform! [Laughs] It’s more than embarrassing.
How did the Snip Snip, B*tch come about?
Robin: So this one, I started writing directly after I finished the Edinburgh Festival [Fringe] in 2019, which was a show about my dad and my son, and my daughter was about to be born. I was going to write a show about my mum and my daughter, take it to Edinburgh in 2020. I remember previewing it in February/March in London, like that final day before lockdown. And then when things reopened, and when I was writing stuff again, it kind of felt like I needed to kind of write a new show. So there’s bits of that element in there, talking about my mum and my daughter. And then we moved back to my hometown of Cardiff, so then a lot of stuff about that. So yeah, it’s a bit of a Frankenstein show. I tend to do story shows – There’s one big overarching narrative. And I wanted to try and do something different this year. So it’s more a selection of bits, which is quite nice. I’ve been having quite a lot of fun on stage not having to feel like, “I need to be saying this point now! And if I forget this line, this doesn’t make sense in twenty minutes!” So it’s quite nice to be a bit freer and be a bit silly on stage.
Was there a reason you chose to go from the story to the bit?
Robin: Just to challenge myself, I think! I’m already thinking about the next show as well. I feel like I don’t want to keep doing the same thing – I want to keep improving as a comic. I likem it to bands when they want to release a second album, you’re like, “I want the old album back!” But they creatively grow. I think that’s it for me.
What is it like performing your own work versus writing for others?
Robin: I think they inform each other really. I started doing open mic comedy in 2010. And my first writing credit was 2012. I think that was an interesting point where my standup and my own writing was getting better because I was learning how to edit and how to craft jokes. Whereas before, I think it was a bit scattergun and amusing stories that maybe didn’t have enough gags in, so that was really useful. I’m quite greedy in the sense that if I’m doing loads of writing, all I want to do is gig, and if I’m on the road loads, I’m like, “Oh, I’d love a writing day right now!” So I think it’s a mixture of both, but it’s always nice to see somebody tell your joke on the telly. Weirdly, the last few years when I’ve been breaking into me being on TV a bit more, it feels like, “I could be the one saying that joke!” I think it’s still lovely and I’m lucky that the shows I’ve worked on have been filled with nice people and it’s a nice experience.
What has it been like seeing different audience reactions to your shows on tour?
Robin: It’s been fun. I feel like certain regional art centres, I have this stigma around and I was assuming a slightly older audience and more monied and slightly more Radio 4. But then I was in Maidenhead on Saturday and it was possibly one of my most fun shows on the tour – They were just really raucous! It’s just that Saturday night in Maidenhead, maybe that’s it? But yeah, it’s interesting. I think it depends on the audience. London always feels slightly younger, but mostly, it’s been quite similar. I’ve got my hometown of Cardiff date in April. That will be fun because I talk about people I went to school with and stuff, and I think some of those might be at the show, so that will have an extra layer to it. So let’s chat after that and I’ll see how it works out! [Laughs]
[Laughs] Do you ever find yourself wanting to change parts of the show based on the reactions you get from the different venues?
Robin: Yeah . . . For example, there’s a section of the show that is basically a tag to a bit that is working, and it works out 60% of the time. I would usually cut it, but I keep it in for myself. So if they’re really going for it, I’ll do it. Because it’s quite early on the show, it feels like I have to slow and steady, get them to come into the show, I’ll probably drop it in the moment. So I suppose that’s an example. But I’m quite good at sort of riffing in the moment, so the more deviate from the script, the more fun I’m having, usually.
What do you hope audiences take away from Snip Snip, B*tch?
Robin: That they want to come and see me again, I guess!
Robin: After the show, I do an “Any questions?” type thing at the end. And more often than not, people just say like, “When are you coming back?” Which is really nice! It’s like we’re building a little community, which is lovely. I talk about having a vasectomy and about gender politics a little bit, so I think, especially not this show, but the one I did before, it was always quite nice to talk about different versions of masculinity. I think the versions that we see in the media are quite binary. So I think like my 2019 show in Edinburgh, there was some guys coming up to me afterward and saying, “It’s really nice that you’re talking about this.” And that was really lovely. I think a lot of wives are bringing their husbands to the show for the vasectomy material and then broaching a conversation for them to have a vasectomy. And that is very funny to me.
You mentioned you do questions at the end of the show. Is that something you tend to do?
Robin: It’s something I’ve started doing this tour. I do quite a lot of comparing and chatting to the audience when I’m not touring and stuff – I think it’s a skill I’ve got. So it’s quite nice just to make you feel unique to each audience. And sometimes you’ll say, “Any questions?” And it’ll be like, “No, we just want to go home!”
Robin: And I’ll go, “Okay, fair enough! This is your time. It’s your money.” I think it’s for me as well, to keep it a bit distinct each show.
Have you had a favorite question you’ve gotten asked?
Robin: Oh, there’s definitely been some really good ones. In Manchester, no one had anything for ages, and then somebody said, Would you rather . . .” It was just a “Would you rather” question – it wasn’t anything personal. ‘Cause usually it’s like, “What does your wife do?” And trying to find a little bit out about the show. But this person asked, “Would you rather have sex with Donald Trump and no one know about it, or not have sex with him and everyone thinks you did?”
Robin: Right? And I said I would rather not have sex with him, but everyone think I had. I had a weird crystallizing moment. I was like, “Oh, that’s nice. That means I don’t care what people think about me anymore!” At the age of 33, I finally don’t care about peer pressure. I realized that in that moment. That’s mad, isn’t it?
[Laughs] Of all the questions you’re like, “Wow, self-realization from Donald Trump, thanks!”
Robin: That’s a really smart question, yeah! [Laughs]
And finally, how would you describe Snip Snip, B*tch in one word?
Robin: Playful. I think it’s silly and playful, not to be taken too seriously.
Thank you to Robin for the interview and to Julian Hall for arranging it!
Snip Snip, B*tch is on its UK national tour from 28 January to 29 April, 2023, with upcoming stops in Leicester (24 March), Cardiff (19 April), Machynlleth (29 April), and Brighton (6 June). More information about the show and Robin Morgan can be found here.