Photo: Jana and Heidi

Interview: Jana Jana and Heidi

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Most students whish to be as far away from their parents as possible. Now imagine working or performing with them regularly on a regular basis! The mother and daughter duo Jana and Heidi performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this year and they will now delight Mancunian audiences on Saturday the 8th of November at the Lowry. The unique mother and daughter performance promises an honest exploration of the relationship between mothers and daughters, a whirlwind of jokes and even a disco dance-off! I tried to find out more about one half of the quirky team and got the chance to delve into Jana’s world.

How did your time at the University of Manchester influence your comedy style?

I think my time at Manchester made me more confident. I met and hung out with loads of really interesting people, all studying different subjects and that gave me insights into ideas and philosophies—ways of thinking—that I had not really come across before. Apart from fellow students I also hung out with loads of Mancunians, many of whom liked a good laugh and, if me, a Southerner, could make them laugh, I felt that I was doing alright!

Was it hard to get used to working with your mother and is there a lot of conflict while rehearsing?

It would have been impossible to make this show with mum two years ago, it would have been awful! But making it together now felt right, we like each other, which is a big help, and she really respected the fact that I had an idea of how we would go about making this show, She has never done anything like this so had to put her trust in me really! Occasionally I do revert to being a teenager when I am around her, but I try and be patient and let her boss me around sometimes (and buy me lunch!). In rehearsals she can just get bored halfway through so I have to bribe her back with a diet coke.

What are your top tips for people who want to start a career in comedy?

Go for it! There are loads of great comedy nights and open mic nights. These tend to have friendly crowds who are supportive of acts trying out new material. If you are a woman then there is the Women In Comedy Festival in your city! Also don’t feel you have to be a certain type of comedian—I don’t really like doing standup, though I love MCing those nights. I’m still figuring out what I am doing, perhaps making solo theatre comedy shows—that’s a mouthful!

Are you funnier on stage or in real life?

Good question—both? On stage I have got a ‘play’ that I am performing and finding fun within. There is a structure but room for me to play if something is working really well, or the audience pick up on something then I can work with that, improvise around it and have pleasure doing that. I think the spontaneity of real life can throw some brilliant moments your way, a weird in-joke that you can find with a stranger that has you both cracking up while waiting for a bus.

Why should university students see your show?

Come and see the show as it will definitely have moments in it that ring really true for you! We talk about being a student, what happened after I graduated and it shows a relationship that I think many of Manchester’s students, and everyone, will find familiar… the one they have with their mum!

Get a taste of their humour in a short video here and follow their show on Facebook.

Tags: comedy, Edinburgh Fringe, Heidi Kennedy, interview, Jana and Heidi, Jana Kennedy, The Lowry

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