Acclaimed English comedian, comedy writer and Chortle Award winner Holly Walsh performed her new show Never Had It this week at London’s Soho Theatre after a successful run at the Edinburgh Fringe last year.
“It” in the show’s title refers to the “je ne sais quoi” – that elusive combination of charisma and insouciance possessed by people who make life look easy. Holly’s self confessed ‘lack of cool’ has, however, become an advantage, turning it into a successful comedy career which began in 2005 when she took an evening class in standup to escape being an art gallery assistant.
The rest, as they say, is ‘herstory’. Within a year she found an agent, made the final of several nationwide new act competitions and began writing for comedy shows, including Radio 4. Since then she has appeared on Mock the Week, Would I Lie to You, and Never Mind the Buzzcocks. As the blurb on the Soho Theatre site says “Some people have got ‘it’. Holly most definitely does not. But who needs ‘it’ when you’ve got a Gold Duke Of Edinburgh Award and nearly two thousand Nectar points?”
‘Graphing at the Soho requires a bit of strategic management i.e. purchase a pilsner and position oneself at the ideal interception point. At the Soho that’s usually at the table adjacent to the door between the foyer and the hospitality area. This is usually a bottleneck akin to the Northern Line at 8am. Mind the Gap.
On Thursday evening I got lucky. There was a gap between shows so the flow of pedestrians was manageable for me to identify the target… I mean talent.
The norm – and I use the term very lightly – is that the performers appear after the audience and this duly happened. This sequence can be crucial, and avoids one asking a number of look-alikes and impostors to sign your sketch before you stop the real one. I speak from experience here, they don’t have their name stamped on their foreheads.
Holy conformed to the norm and moments later appeared from the downstairs stage in clear view. I immediately recognised her distinctive big, bright eyes and smile and she recognised herself in the sketch (always a bonus) and happily signed it.
I still had time to finish my ale in a relaxed fashion and no longer looking like a stalker before assuming the position at a West End stage door later in the evening.