Comedian Grace Campbell: ‘People used to say I’d just be Alastair Campbell’s daughter’

I was clearly addicted to men,” says Grace Campbell. So much so that the 28-year-old comedian’s new Edinburgh show A Show about Me(n) is entirely inspired by her complex relationship with the opposite sex. “I was clearly I’m not comparing it to cocaine addiction or anything,” she laughs. “The whole point of the show is to make me realize that men are less important to me than I am.”

Now, Campbell has decided to take a break from the dating world, adding, “I don’t need someone to get in my head.” But her history of wanting male attention dates back to her school days: “When I was a teenager, boys didn’t really like me. But she wanted me more than them. I wanted more of myself. Said that getting a boyfriend would increase my worth and make me mature.

It has taken her the past year or so to see the extent of her male preoccupation after breaking up with her first long-term partner, “I thought having a boyfriend would take away all my problems. It was like a false promise.” Later, she says of her current relationship status, “I’m very happy single.”

Grace Campbell shot at the Soho Theatre.

/ Daniel Hembree/@stellapicsltd

Although the show Me(n) is about mainly focuses on Campbell’s own life, she believes it’s something many women will be able to relate to. She says, “I’m very open and I think it can make people feel less crazy, no matter what they’re doing… women are conditioned to think that we always have to One should be with someone,” she says. “We watch all these Disney movies as kids. Even in elementary school, you come home and people ask you if you have a boyfriend – it’s like, ‘We’re five. , why would we have a boyfriend?’

On a personal level, Campbell believes her own desire for male attention stems in part from growing up with a “dominant male figure” – her father, former New Labor press secretary and director of communications, Alastair. Campbell. “I desperately wanted his approval. I was obsessed with him and inspired by him. My father is literally my favorite person in the whole world,” she says.

Alastair Campbell, who started working for the Blair government a month after the birth of his daughter, has also featured prominently in his comedy work. “My first hour of stand-up was about getting into politics,” she says, referring to her 2019 show I’m Never Going Into Politics. “But it was actually a lot more about my personal life. I always talk about sex and relationships,” she says.

Campbell spoke openly about her childhood: “I always said what I felt all the time”, but she didn’t always have the luxury of opening up in public, “when your parents are in politics. , so you have to be very careful with what you say – and I really did”.

But, what does Campbell Sr. think of his comedy? “He’s my biggest fan,” she says, “it’s really sweet.” She tells the story of her father running from Whitehall to Soho for the last five minutes of one of her sets, “he was dripping sweat, he wanted to see it” – even if his material wasn’t always the greatest. . A comforting thing for her to see. “I talk about anal. He hates it, but he still comes.”

Campbell’s father, Labor spin doctor Alastair, in 2001

/ Reuters

However, the constant references to his father became annoying. “People used to say I was Alastair Campbell’s daughter, and that’s all I was going to be,” she says of her early days in comedy. “If I say that, it’s funny in a lot of ways, but when men do it, it’s just sexist. They’re trying to belittle me. It’s not like I got into politics.”

Still, Campbell shares many of her father’s views on Britain’s current political circus. They fear that after resigning, Boris Johnson will revert to being a “cheerful” partygoer and his actions as Prime Minister will become “modest”. “He’s done something so bad, like horrible, he shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it all.”

His family talks politics all the time. “My father got it. [Boris’ resignation] Really anti-climactic. He has been preparing for his departure for so long, but the Tories are still in power. F*** knows what will happen with the next election. With two years to go, Brexit still to come – none of these things are going away now. They all lie, all the time.” But can they be optimistic about the future? “My father wishes. He thinks he can be a part of changing things.

However, politics is not a career for Campbell. “Comedy is very natural. I just love doing shows and being around people,” she says. But it doesn’t stop with her stage work – Campbell has also amassed an online following. Her Instagram is full of short videos, and she regularly asks her followers to answer funny polls about dating and sex. “I definitely had to put time into it, but social media has helped me reach new people, which is great.”

Performing live is where Campbell’s heart is. Although she hopes her show will make women “feel better,” she’s still disappointed that she barely sees any men in her audience. “If you bring it back to my obsession with men confirming me – they can follow me on Instagram and send me horrible messages about my breasts, but they don’t spend money or time to see me. Don’t – I don’t rate it.”

Of the few men who do come, mainly with their girlfriends, Campbell says, “I like to include them — not in a bullying way, but I want them to be able to laugh at themselves.” ” And how do men in the comedy industry generally react to this? “I don’t communicate with them,” she laughs. “I’ve vetted everyone I work with.”

Campbell takes pride in his work and his attitude towards the industry. “In a work environment, I don’t give af**k – I get that from my dad. I’ve always had this sense of confidence, I don’t let people take the piss out of me – it’s so weird that I have my own. I didn’t get that in my love life. I didn’t have boundaries or self-control until this year. If I had realized it, I would have just said, I don’t even think about it.”

Grace Campbell: A Show About Me is at the Gilded Balloon Teveot, Edinburgh until 29 August. edfringe.com