Could there be a more perfect venue for solo show Celia Delaney is… Angelic? than the aptly named Angel Comedy Club? The fact that Victoria Wood, who inspired Delaney as a child, is on the mural there makes it even more heavenly. We caught up with this multi-talented performer ahead of her Camden Fringe debut.
Celia Delaney has a secret love child…so is she really as angelic as she says she is?
A love affair in France at 19 years old left Celia with an imaginary daughter, whom she has raised as a single parent for 25 years, unbeknownst to anyone. With Brexit looming, will she have to send her back? What has happened to her daughter in all these years?
From yarns about the ‘Fighting Irish’ (not the sporting team, just Celia’s family), to a highly opinionated grandmother she never met, Celia counts the ways in which she is not angelic. Born in Devon, raised in Yorkshire and educated at Oxford, Celia Delaney claims to be ‘post-Northern’ while conveniently retaining her old Sheffield ways. She may be middle-class, wear a T-shirt stating, ‘Choose Love’ in support of refugees, but she can still start a punch-up in a nightclub.
Celia Delaney is… Angelic? is her debut solo show with all new songs and stories and has its London premiere at Camden Fringe, running at the Angel Comedy Club at the Bill Murray Pub from 15 to 19 August 2019.
Talking to… Celia Delaney
Celia Delaney was nominated for Best Newcomer in the London Cabaret Awards in 2015 for her first show, Man Wanted! She went on to perform two more shows in the cabaret trilogy about her marriage: Man Found! and Man for Sale! and then wrote an original musical in 2018 called Till Death Us Do Part? as part of musical trio The Secret Divorce Society.
In addition to her comedy, Celia Delaney works as a successful emcee, award ceremony host, keynote and after-dinner speaker. She is known as an inspiring public speaker and coach on effective presentation skills, persuasion and confidence.
What made you first want to perform?
Seeing Victoria Wood on TV doing funny songs. I thought, ‘I can do that’, so I did.
How would you define the difference between comedy, cabaret & theatre?
I trained in cabaret under Paul L Martin, who runs courses aimed at singers who want to cross over from other disciplines into the cabaret genre. As part of that, we have this debate on day one of the course about, ‘What is cabaret’? For me, cabaret is subversive, intimate and breaks with convention. What it also shares with comedy is that it ‘breaks the fourth wall’, which means you are speaking directly to the audience without pretending you can’t see them, as is usually the case in theatre (with the exception of pantomime, Restoration theatre and one or two other forms.)
Comedy is the easiest to measure in terms of success in that people either laugh or they don’t. Cabaret is more likely to ‘go for warmth’, as Paul says, and to provoke as much as entertain. If I had to sum it up, I would say: in theatre, the performer pretends to drink on stage; in comedy, the performer is drinking on stage; in cabaret, the performer drinks the audience’s drinks!
This is your debut solo show. Why did you want to branch out on your own?
It doesn’t feel like I’m branching out, as I did a trilogy of three shows with a pianist that were presented more as solo shows with accompaniment, so I was halfway there with those! However, they were cabaret shows, in which I presented the songs of other people alongside my own. The difference this time is I am doing a stand-up show with only 2/3 songs and all the material is original. I like performing alone and with others, they seem to complement each other.
What was the inspiration for the show’s subject?
I genuinely have always had an imaginary daughter. Well, since I was 19 anyway. I never had real kids and have always wondered what it would have been like.
The show touches on Brexit. Are you updating material as real-world events unfold?
The touch is very slight, so the references are likely to be broad enough to stay current. Besides, nothing has changed in three years!
How does your corporate work help you as a performer?
It helps massively. I get lots more stage time – and in front of much bigger audiences – than most comedians at my stage in their career. I am singing songs and making jokes to 500 people at an awards evening, and that is a fantastic way of growing your skill and your profile.
What’s the secret to having confidence?
For me, it is that I love humanity, and I see us as all the one being, just separated by air. Everyone is me and I am everyone, there is no separation in my mind, so I have no need to fear something ‘other’. I still get nervous, but it makes me really focused instead of fearful.
Why should people see Celia Delaney… is Angelic?
It is super funny! I didn’t think I was going to get it written, but it’s really come together with the help of live audiences. They’ve shown me what works and what doesn’t, and it’s shaping up to be a great show. Also, people love my singing voice, they tell me!
What are your future plans?
I think there are so many exciting days ahead, who knows what they might hold? I’d love to do some telly and radio, particularly for the BBC, I love them so much! I would love more chances to do TV presenting too, and acting, singing and dancing. I am an old-fashioned all-round entertainer!
Anything else you’d like to add?
It would be great if anyone wants to ‘save’ the show on the Stagedoor app – that helps it to make it into the Top 40 shows in Camden Fringe. So even if you can’t come, please ‘save me’!
As part of Camden Fringe 2019, Celia Delaney is… Angelic? runs on Thursday 15 August at 6.45pm, Saturday 17 August at 5pm and Monday 19 August at 9.30pm at The Bill Murray’s Angel Comedy Club, 39 Queen’s Head Street, London N1 8NQ. Tickets are priced £5-6. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE!
Full festival programme
For details on all 300+ shows in the 2019 Camden Fringe programme, visit the festival websiteClick here