Eleanor Morton interview: “I tell people my thoughts under a light that shines as bright as God himself”

Hi Eleanor! On a scale of 1-10 how poorly have we explained the remit of our own night?

I’d say a solid 5 – I don’t know what’s happening, but it can’t be THAT different from a standard night, can it? Can it?

Can you explain what you do as though you were asked by a medieval peasant?

I use a magic wand to make my voice loud and then I tell people my thoughts under a light that shines as bright as God himself

I’ve been watching and enjoying your videos on Twitter for ages, then I saw you at Charlie Vero-Martin’s show, recognised you, and immediately relaxed into your material because I already knew you were brilliant. How important is online content for comedians now, and do you resent producing so much gold for free?

No, it kept me creative during the time-that-shall-not-be-named. I think if you’re worried about ‘giving away’ your stuff for free it suggests you’re worried you only have a finite amount of creativity, and I’m confident enough that I’ll keep having new ideas. And I feel like you can really indulge your specific niche interests online because there’s a bigger chance you’ll find an audience than, say, doing it to 40 people at a gig.

There is, for example, medieval TikTok, Literature TikTok, all sorts of places where people will enjoy stuff. I do find it hard when people request more of one thing because I’m a big believer in not beating a concept to death. I love doing the Craig the Tour Guide, but I only want to do him while it feels genuine and I’m enjoying writing it. But also I like earning money (Donate to my Ko-Fi!)

We also need to talk about the misogyny pipe, as we ex-moderators call the internet. How do we turn it off, or at least rearrange the plumping so the shit lands back on the heads of those producing it?

Luckily climate change will have wiped us all out within the next 100 years, making misogyny a thing of the past 

Myself and Maddi are nascent promoters but we’re trying to not be terrible. Could you tell us a bad experience you’ve had with a promoter? It can be funny or horrifying, either is fine.

I used to gig a fair bit at a night that no longer runs but would always sell out, and the pay was always insultingly bad. Once I got a message from the promoter after I’d left saying I’d forgot my money, so I went back for what turned out to be £5, about the amount I’d just spent getting on and off the tube. So I don’t mind if you don’t pay me, but I do mind if you’re making a lot of money and then giving me a couple of quid. That’s just rude.   

You and [Canadian comic artist] Kate Beaton are two of my favourite people for squeezing nonsense out of historical situations and characters. Did you study history or have you just read lots of books?

My sister is a big fan of hers! A combination – I did history at school (I mean, everyone did, but I did an extra exam in it because I’m a special nerd) and literature at uni, which tends to cover lots of bits of history, and I’ve always loved it. I love having context for buildings, events, laws etc. We did lots of weekends at Historic Scotland sites growing up and my parents are both into it too, so I’ve always just loved finding out more about why the world is the way it is.

I love day to day social history and knowing loads of little details, like what people used to eat for breakfast, or how did they keep their teeth clean. It really humanises the past. Also I’ve always loved the Horrible Histories books and I love dark humour, and history gets very dark.

Talking of characters, I get the impression the ones you do, including your stand up persona, are all versions of yourself. How do you lure them out of yourself, and how much honing do they require once they’ve emerged?

I don’t know how much luring is required. I think a lot of it can be boiled down to ‘Things I’ve thought that I haven’t said out loud before’, which isn’t a very impressive creative process. The online stuff is semi-improvised, I figure out what to say while I’m filming, I find that much easier than writing out a sketch.

Stand up is a bit more honed, but I don’t think I’ll ever be one of those acts who can write out a word-for-word script, I’m in awe of them.

Talking of comics, I see you’ve written for The Beano. Gnasher going missing was one of the most traumatic events of my childhood. It turned out he’d knocked up a poodle and returned with a son, Gnipper, although the other 8 puppies – all female – were never mentioned in the comic again. What does that tell us about society? Or, if you prefer: how important were comics for developing your own funny?

Full disclosure I write for the Beano online which is less to do with the comics, and more to do with frantically googling the latest TikTok trends to keep up with da kids. My brother had a subscription to The Beano and, like Blue Peter, I think it’s something that is imbedded into every British persons childhood. But what I think really did shape my humour were all those old DC comics Girls annuals from the 60s, 70s and 80s – Bunty, Judy etc, because my sister collected them (And still does).

We loved looking at all the old stories, the attitudes, the hilarious celeb crushes (Noel Edmunds anyone) and laughing at some of the more overt sexism (Lots of stories about losing weight and being typists.) There was always at least two stories per annual about a girl who made friends with someone who turned out to be a ghost. Like clockwork. So yeah, loved them. Still like rereading them. My sister has an instagram where she posts the more outrageous ones.

We appear to be fellow leftist gingers. How do I stop people shouting “oi Sheeran” at me, and how does one channel the fury at the world in a way that doesn’t “turn people off”?

If I find a solution, I’ll let you know.

I read somewhere that you were Miss Australia in 1980? Can you talk me through how that went?

Yeah, it’s all a blur now. It feels like another lifetime. But I’ve seen the photos and I look great! (I really hope Miss Morton isn’t getting annoying messages for confused comedy fans).

Thank you! What would you like to plug?

I’m on twitter as @eleanormorton.

I’d also like to plug Peter Fleming’s Into the Archives Podcast, a trip down fictional memory lane into old children’s TV, and @buntywithnocontext on Instagram, where my sister shares those hilarious Bunty stories.

Published by jamesofwalsh

My past blogs haunt the internet like ghost ships on a digital sea.

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