Mae Martin, star of the award-nominated Mae Martin’s Guide to 21st Century Sexuality (BBC Radio 4), is an award-winning stand-up comedian that is currently on her debut UK tour with her show Dope. Her show candidly goes through Mae’s addictions, rehab, sexuality and her development from awkward youth to millennial observationalist. She has started her career as a professional comedian at 13 years old, receiving her first Canadian Comedy Award nomination at 15. She most recently won a Canadian Screen Award for her writing on Canada’s CBC hit all-female comedy series Baroness Von Sketch Show. Mae has exciting new projects comping up, such as her first non-fiction book and a Channel 4 pilot. Galaxy Media had the pleasure to talk with her.
This is your debut UK tour, how has it been so far?
It’s been really good. I was in Oxford last night and I’ve done London. I’m excited!
Dope is about you, your obsession and addictions. How did the idea come about?
Well, I’ve been doing stand-ups for a long time. I’ve been doing stand-up comedy since I was about 13 and I never really thought about what it was like as a teenager doing stand-ups and getting into drugs and that kind of things, so now I’m tackling that, talking about it in the show. I’m always telling very truthful stories and hoping that people can relate.
Do you feel like people relate more with the show when you talk about your personal experiences?
Yes, definitely. I think that the more personal that you get and the more specific, then I’m always surprised that everybody always relates. The more you reveal about yourself, the more you realise that everybody is the same.
What is your approach when you are talking about deep and heavy subjects, such as addiction or rehab, but still aiming to make the audience laugh?
I figured it out when I was writing the show and I’ve tried out a bunch, and sometimes it’s not funny to begin with and then you add… I mean, in general, I like dark comedy, I think it’s a good match, dark subject matter with a light approach, so the audience can get… And they start thinking about stuff.
You said that you became a professional comedian when you were only 13 years old. When did you realise that stand-up comedy was something that you wanted to do?
I talk about it in the show a bit, I just always wanted to do it. I was obsessed with comedy and huge comedy fan and I guess I was kind of a weird kid and then I found this community of people that were like being applauded for being weird you know? And up on stage talking about being weird, it feels good.
Since your debut with Dope at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, the show and yourself have received a lot of praise, from The Guardian, The Times, The Daily Mirror, just to name a few. What does that mean to you and your work?
That’s great, I mean. I just want people to connect with it. It really is about the live experience in the room as well. I mean, it’s so nice when people write about it and stuff but the best thing is when an audience, live in the room, you can feel them really, getting into it, connecting with it. I love all the live stuff, you know?
You are not only a comedy actress and writer. You have a non-fiction book to be released next year entitled Can everyone please calm down? Mae Martin’s Guide to Sexuality. Why do you think this is the right time for a book like that to come out?
I think in general, people are very interest about sexuality, what’s changing, what kinds of new terminology and exciting changes are happening and I think it can be difficult to keep up when it’s changing so quickly. So, it’s kind of saying let’s all relax, it’s all great, it’s all good news. It’s a positive book, especially for teenagers who might be questioning their sexuality or have questions about it in general and this is like a funny book that’s explaining it all.
You are very open about your sexuality, but you have talked about how you don’t like labels because they can be divisive and you don’t feel like you have to identify yourself other than as human being, so why do you think people somehow still need to name themselves?
For me personally, I’m not a huge fan of labels, but I think they are all still very important for a lot of people. It’s a way to find a community, but there’s still a long way to go. To say you know, ‘I’m gay, I’m bisexual, I’m trans’ it is still very important. But I just hope, at some point in the future, maybe, in 1500 years from now, everybody will be just a human. It’d be cool right? So, I’m definitely not saying throw away all labels, but the worst thing is when people label you. When you label yourself, that’s totally great, but some people make assumptions and that kind of thing, you know?
With a channel 4 pilot in the making, your book coming out next year and the incredible success Dope is getting, this has been an exiting year for you. What are you most proud of the things you have accomplished so far?
Ehm, that’s a good question… I don’t know. It’s doing the show, Dope, I’m loving it, it’s an hour of stand up that I really love to do and it’s been amazing the way people responses, so I think that’s been the best thing.
Do you still think about your future or you are just enjoying the success you are having right now?
Oh, I think about the future all the time. It’s hard to be in the moment, but I’m trying to be, I’m trying to just enjoy every day. I have so many plans and things I want to do, but it’s definitely being on tour right now.
Finally, can you tell us a little about which life experiences you have used to create your show?
I guess I go chronologically through the phases of my obsessions, from when I’m about 6 and I’m obsessed with Bette Midler and then it goes into my teens, getting into drugs and going to rehab and that kind of things. And then in my twenties, it’s about relationships and dating. Hopefully, people can have fun and enjoy it.