In yesterday’s blog, Cassandra Hodges mentioned applying for a visa to work in the US.
But, of course, several people working on the UK comedy circuit are not British.
Daphna Baram – an Israeli – has been here for several years and has two shows at the Edinburgh Fringe in August – Bombs, Booze and Haggis Strikes Back and Something to Declare.
This is the second consecutive year for Bombs, Booze and Haggis – “We are flyering it as a Scotsman, an Irishman and a Jew,” she told me.
“But not in that order,” I suggested.
“No,” agreed Daphna.
“I have hay fever,” I warned her when we started talking.
“I have a sore back,” she countered.
“From what?” I asked.
“I was just carrying a heavy bag. I’m generally broken.”
Daphna had a heart attack several years ago.
“I think,” she told me, “for the first few years after a heart attack, you are very healthy because you had the scare, you quit smoking, you go to cardio rehab. You want to get back to your glory. A year after the heart attack, I was super-fit: I could run for 45 minutes, I was quite thin, I was on top of things. But then comedy happened. It’s more of a struggle keeping fit when you spend every night in pubs.”
“Have you,” I asked, “explored the option of not spending every night in pubs?”
“I am a comedian?” answered Daphna. “What am I supposed to do?”
“So what’s your solo show about?” I asked, sneezing.
“This is my fifth Fringe year and third solo show. Something To Declare is a show about me immigrating to this country – stories about my efforts to integrate into British society. Partly successfully… No. I think wholly successfully… I think it will be interesting to do it in Scotland. It is a bit of a different premise in Scotland.”
“You now,” I said, blowing my nose, “have an indefinite leave to remain in Britain.”
“Yes,” said Daphna, “finally.”
“Matt Roper,” I said, “just got a visa for America which says he is an alien with extraordinary abilities.”
“I tried to get that here a few years ago,” Daphna told me. They called it a Highly Skilled Migrant at the time. I had been under a year in the country and I had published a book in English, I was writing for national newspapers, I had a Fellowship at Oxford University…They said: Listen, madam, you are not a Highly Skilled Migrant. So I had to register myself with the alien police for a few years.”
“The alien police?” I asked. “What? Slanted-Eyed Greys?”
“No. I was the alien. They were the police. Then they changed the name to something else.”
“Probably couldn’t take the laughter,” I suggested.
Daphna’s show Something To Declare is partly about The Britishness Test which aliens have to take.
I sneezed, then asked: “That’s the one with questions no British person can answer? Like What year did Richard II ascend the throne?”
“They’ve got a particular obsession with Henry VIII,” Daphna told me, “which I ascribe to the fact the Home Office is in Croydon and he was a bit of a lad.”
“Eh?” I asked, startled. “What has Croydon got to do with it? Did he go down the disco there?”
“Yeah,” said Daphna. “He was a player. I can see him do that.”
“I think,” I said, “you have failed the Britishness test here.”
“I passed!” she insisted.
Daphna is one of the orphans of Cowgatehead. After the chaos caused by the Free Fringe take-over of the venue, she is now performing at Just the Tonic at the Caves. The Cowgatehead fiasco lost her £600. She is currently crowdfunding.