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Richard Gadd, 2019
© Andy Parsons

Richard Gadd: ‘This show is more important than my duty of care to myself’

The acclaimed comedian’s hyper-intense stalking monologue ‘Baby Reindeer’ was the talk of this year’s Edinburgh Fringe; now it transfers to the Bush Theatre

By Andrzej Lukowski

In 2016, Richard Gadd won the biggest prize in live comedy, aka the Edinburgh Comedy Award, for ‘Monkey See Monkey Do’, a dazzlingly theatrical stand-up show in which he discussed the sexual abuse he suffered. Three years on and he’s ditched the jokes with ‘Baby Reindeer’, a ferociously honest and unflinching monologue about his ongoing experience of being stalked.

Being stalked has been horrible for you – so why make a show about it?

‘I thought there was a duty of care to let the audience and perhaps society in general know just how tricky a situation it is. There were times when it was so life-debilitating that I couldn’t believe it was allowed to get to that point from a legal perspective. And I just felt like that needed to be said and I felt like that was more important than my duty of care to myself, in a way.’

You had to listen back to all of your stalker’s voice messages to you; how was that?

‘It hasn’t been easy. There were hours and hours of voicemails and emails, and I had to remind myself of all the incidents, interview all the people involved. But the excruciating elements and the uncomfortableness are important: I think that’s what a lot of shows lack, that ability to push the audience into an uncomfortable place.’

Are you happy with the response the show’s had?

‘It’s gone really well. If I’m being honest I expected a bit of a backlash. Because it’s not a show just about me, it’s a show that incorporates other people who were also vulnerable. I worked very hard to point out that it’s about a systemic failure. But we live in a day and age where people like to take offence, and at the end of the day I didn’t behave perfectly throughout this thing. I think in the end we got the balance right.’

What’s the future for ‘Baby Reindeer’?

‘We’re going to some cool countries. With “Monkey See Monkey Do” I thought: I’ll end it one year later at the Edinburgh Fringe where it started. And there was so much more I could have done with it, and I sort of missed the show when it was gone. This time I’m gonna play it out until it feels like it’s done, I wanna be sick of “Baby Reindeer”. You’ve got to make hay while the sun shines, because the freelance life is hard.’

Are you still going to do stand-up?

‘I don’t really need to do it any more but I enjoy it every now and again. There are some great nights in London I’ll always do if they ask me. I’ll never let it fully die, but at the moment I’ll take a hiatus from it.’

‘Baby Reindeer’ is at the Bush Theatre. Oct 9-Nov 9.

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