Shappi Khorsandi’s brilliant new show, Mistress and Misfit, focuses on Emma, Lady Hamilton, who lit up the life of Lord Nelson and added to the gaiety during the Georgian era.
The comedian says she has had a ball writing the show: “This show has been the most fun to write. It’s about passion and tragedy. What better things are there to write comedy about?”
One of the many reasons Shappi is such a popular comedian is that so much of her material relates to herself, and audiences can instantly identify with that.
“I relate Emma’s life to modern women and, like all stand ups, I draw people into the world as I see it, so it’s still a very personal show.
“When you’re a stand-up, people have come to see you and share the experience with you. They can read a book about Emma, Lady Hamilton, but the way I tell her story draws people in to my stand-up, which I hope is why they bought a ticket in the first place!”
In Mistress and Misfit, Shappi recounts the largely untold story of England’s unsung heroine.
“I was fascinated by Emma. She was really clever and compassionate, and very hard done by. She was also a master of re-invention and a fantastically creative person.”
Shappi, goes on to outline some of the similarities between Emma and herself.
She says: “We were both artist’s models. She modelled for great artists, I modelled for GCSE students in Tower Hamlets. I have never worked in a brothel, but I have had moments that I would only tell you about on stage or when very drunk. I will be sharing some of those stories in Mistress and Misfit.”
The show is full to the brim with wonderfully offbeat facts about Emma, which make for hilarious routines.
“I did a lot of research to find quirky things that would work in stand-up. For instance, I discovered that there was something called the Harris List, which reviewed all the prostitutes in London. It was like a Trip Advisor of its time – for prostitutes.
“One in six women in Covent Garden worked as a prostitute. So if you were visiting Covent Garden, you would take along your Harris List to see who tickled your fancy. Crazy.”
You can see Shappi at Buxton Opera House on March 22 at 8pm and on May 4 at the Guildhall Theatre, Derby, at 8pm.