Marijana is the alter ego of character comedian Gabby Best, who hit the headlines last year by going undercover at London Fashion Week as outrageous designer Carmen de Beauvoir.
The Edinburgh Fringe poses a less glamorous challenge for Gabby but it’s one she knows how to survive.
Hallo Gabby. How are you?
I’m good ta. Sat in the front garden, right by the bins, with my second mini magnum of the day… gurning at a ‘to do’ list.
Just who is Marijana and how did you come up with her?
Marijana is a ‘Health & Happiness Guru to the stars’. She grew out of a voice initially (based on this real peacock of a lady I met on the London Eye). I started using her to make an ex laugh, mid argument. She broke the tension almost instantly, so I thought there might be something in it. A few months later, I was cast as the porter in Macbeth and they asked me to throw the Shakespeare out and write a stand-up set… I invented Marijana and didn’t want to leave her at the end of the run. She’s worryingly real to me now.
What can we expect from the show this year?
This show will absolutely definitely give you all ‘a body to die for and a reason to live.’ Guaranteed. That’s the Marijana mission statement. It’s a mix of tough love, gentle wisdom and revolutionary techniques from a woman who allegedly has it all sorted… Her heart’s in the right place, even if her logic is majestically skewiff and she’s doing her best to get her audiences as spinally and spiritually aligned as she is. She also really wants to make her husband proud… There’s a slightly interactive element (the non terrifying sort) so no two shows will be exactly the same.
Your previous Fringe experiences include performing as part of the NewsRevue. Did you learn any useful tips for surviving in Edinburgh?
- Man cannot live on Flamin’ Hot Dorito alone… Zinc tablets and apple Lucozade can’t be expected to do the job of a balanced diet
- It’s not real life. Watch the news and read a paper everyday – burst the bubble a bit
- Carry snacks AT ALL TIMES
- Book your train at least three and a half years in advance… Leave it any later and it will cost so much you’ll have to lie down for half an hour after you’ve booked it – and your flatmate will get home early from work to find you ‘napping’ on the sofa… which will only serve to perpetuate the myth that you don’t have a real job, and that doing quick changes in pub toilets and talking to strangers five nights a week is somehow easy.
What drew you to characters over other forms of comedy?
I came from an acting background, so I love the whole pretending bit. And I do sort of collect people – mentally stashing little quirks or conversations as I go. Writing for characters is very satisfying – filtering experiences and ideas through different voices. You can stretch out a bit, in terms of material – wander into corners you’d never occupy yourself. Marijana and I share some opinions and gripes but any similarities are wrapped up in this mad, deluded confidence, the idea that she’s completely irresistible – which is nothing like me!
Last year you went undercover as Carmen de Beauvoir for the Evening Standard Magazine at London Fashion Week. How was that experience? And what would Carmen make of the Fringe?
Oh she’d hate it. All that practical footwear, everyone drinking out of plastic cups. Carmen’s used to the high-life. It was a very odd but brilliant experience, having to wing it as a character non-stop for three days, in these increasingly bizarre outfits. I was effectively dressed as a walking glowstick on day two (which made the Guardian Best Dressed List?!?!). On day three people were openly photographing me on the tube… then looking at the photo and pissing themselves anew. I was past caring by that point. Once you’ve fallen up an escalator in a camouflage gimpsuit, it’s quite difficult to be embarrassed by anything.
What else are you looking forward to about heading to Edinburgh in August?
I’ve been thinking about that jacket potato place a lot, the one off the Royal Mile [The handily named Baked Potato Shop on Cockburn Street – Ed]. They do this guacamole with great hulking lumps of Red Leicester in it. It’s great. I’ve also got grand ideas of jogging up Arthur’s Seat every morning and deep breathing to some opera… so I look forward to repeatedly deciding against that – and going for a sausage sandwich instead. And other people’s shows obviously, I’m very much looking forward to watching stuff.
Here’s a space to write about anything you want. go for it:
My second ever joke (aged 4) :
Q: What accent do cotton wool balls have?
A: Cottony (If you say it quickly – it sounds like cockney)
My first ever joke (aged 3) :
Q: What the egg?
(I don’t understand this one but I think it was deeply philosophical).
Gabby Best: The Marijana Method
Assembly George Square Studios
Aug 1-25, 2.45pm