INTERVIEW: Amy Webber, Winner of the ‘Audiences’ Favourite’ at the Musical Comedy Awards 2021

Amy shows off her Audience Favourite award. CREDIT: Elina Kansikas

Amy is a Manchester-based musician with an opera degree and a keen eye for comedic lyrics and song writing. She was voted the ‘Audience Favourite’ at this year’s MCAs – which is, of course, the most democratic award one can win. David E.J.A. Bennett caught up with Amy to discover more about what makes her tick musically, comedically, and musico-comedically (?)…

David: Congratulations on your ‘audience’s favourite’ award at the MCAs: how rewarding is it for you to come out on top of such a talented group of performers in the eyes of the audience? 

Amy: Its so rewarding! You know, you take so much time trying to make your set funny, yet relatable, and silly, yet impressive and well rehearsed with a touch of chaos and when all that prep pays off and the audience like it, its just the best feeling. Not to mention the fact the other acts were so impressive and all so different. I had no idea who the audience would vote for and I am still so thankful and happy it was me.

David: How do you think your performance at the awards went? 

Amy: I felt it went well. No big mistakes with the music tech which is a relief (though sometimes mistakes can actually lead to comedy gold…) I mean my whole set is about trying to get a job and when things go wrong it kind of adds to the image of me not getting a job because I’m actually just a bit of a shambles. The audience were definitely loud in their laughter and applause which spurred me on too and gave me an idea it had gone well. When I came off stage I went to check my phone to see if any family/friends watching (I had 3 watching online and 2 in the audience) had texted to say anything like “oooh my god you smashed it, amazing work, Amy!!” but I actually didn’t have any messages… haha gutted. The main marker of a good performance is enjoying yourself. Mostly when I come off stage I want to get straight back on and ‘do it all again’ and I definitely had that feeling.

David: What does it mean to you to be performing on a live stage after such a long, enforced hiatus? 

Amy: It was such a rush to be in a theatre again. And even more of a rush being on a massive stage. I love the whole atmosphere of the dark backstage then coming on into a big space with bright lights and knowing its my turn to just simply entertain. And I wasn’t too nervous either, luckily I’d actually done 3 performances in Manchester (where I’m based) in the weeks running up to the awards so although it was a while since being on a stage that big it wasn’t long since performing to an audience.

David: The musical comedy subgenre has produced some truly legendary comedy acts over the years: what is about the combination of comedy and music that resonates with people so much?  

Amy: I guess the music side is impressive and/or entertaining, everyone likes to see something they can’t do or don’t see very often. Then adding some dry humour, self deprecation or a funny character just makes it relatable. Its like a music gig and a comedy show rolled into one – what’s not to like?

David: If you could choose any musical comedy artist to duet with, who would it be and why? 

Amy: I would love to collaborate with Reggie Watts. He is so intelligent and SUCH a good musician, I feel like I’d just learn loads from him. I mean in terms of music, not just comedy. He has really has his own style which is unique and memorable (and hilarious) while also being an impressive musician and thats what I want to try and do.

David: You have an excellent song entitled ‘MyCV’: has anyone hired you off the back of that yet? 

Amy: Haha, not directly, no. But I think it will happen eventually and its going to be so funny when it does! I did have a couple of enquiries about writing songs for people but they fell through for one reason or another. I suppose the CV song grabbed the attention of BBC Radio Manchester and now I write a monthly (formerly weekly) news song for them, so I guess indirectly it did lead to that. I’ve written a few jingles recently for Youtuber Max Fosh as well as Phil Trow from BBC Manchester so I’d love to get some more commissions to write jingles. I don’t know, maybe David Attenborough wants one?

David: What is your first notable memory of playing music? 

Amy: I first started ‘playing’ (if you can call it that) piano when I was around 8. I went for lessons for about a year because we knew a piano teacher in our town and my mum thought it would be ‘good for me’. Of course it was good for me, but I found lessons and focussing on dots on a page quite boring. The only reason I agreed to keep going was to stroke/talk to the teacher’s dog before and after lessons. I used to arrive 20 minutes early and leave late so I could play with him. He was called Rocky and he used to put his paw on me while I told him stories – he was my first dog love. 

David: Similarly, what is your earliest memory of making people laugh? 

Amy: I realised quite young that farting was quite a good laughing currency. And just generally being a class clown. In sex-ed in year 6 someone dared me to ask the teacher “is it good”? The whole class erupted as I bravely asked but now looking back it was a valid question and important for children to try and comprehend. The teacher responded “yes, it is good”.

David: What was the first comedy song you ever wrote? 

Amy: I wrote a song for an acting show-case to ‘show off’ my voice to potential agents. I didn’t even mean for the song to be that funny but showing off without humour is just gross. The cast and audience found it funny (though I never did get an agent out of it haha) so I tried it out on bigger comedy club audiences and it still went down well. That ‘2 minute song’ is on Youtube but it was with ukulele and I’ve stopped using my ukulele now swapping it out for my MIDI keyboard and trigger pad. I found ukulele a bit predictable and limiting musically in the end though it was much easier to carry around! 

David: For anyone being newly introduced to your music, how would you describe your style, both musically, lyrically and performatively? 

Amy: Musically I’d say catchy and upbeat – people often complain of having my songs stuck in their head for days. I take that as a compliment (naturally). Lyrically quite dry and ironic but also truthful/cringe (at my own expense). Performatively… well, I’d like to think something along the lines of “engaging, charismatic, memorable and self-deprecating yet talented”. But I can’t say all that can I? Way too big headed. Hopefully just something different and entertaining. 

David: When you’re composing a song, where do you begin: lyrics or music? 

Amy: I usually start with the lyrics to help guide the feel, tempo and genre of a track. But occasionally, when I’m writing my ‘non joke music’ (I release music under the name Eimie its sort of indie/pop) if I find a nice chord sequence I’ll write lyrics to match. I feel like I have endless emotions / experiences I can forge into a song. 

David: In terms of lyrics, do you write jokes and then form them into songs? Or do you go with your comedic instincts and simply write funny lyrics? 

Amy: I don’t write jokes at all! I just think of funny things then try and form them into vaguely rhyming lyrics. 

David: What projects can we expect to see from you in the near future? 

Amy: I am performing my first half an hour set on 11 July in Manchester on the HOME stage. Really excited for that. And then once I’ve got that 30mins under my belt there’s no stopping me. I am planning a show at Greater Manchester Fringe in September then a small tour round the country (covid permitting) in October, starting with a slot at Glossop comedy festival and finishing in London. I also write a monthly song based on the big headlines for BBC Radio Manchester so I will continue to write and release them at the end of every month.

WATCH: Amy Webber, ‘My CV’

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