Fresh from her 2022 ‘Best New Show’ award at the Leicester Comedy Festival London based comedian Ania Magliano still has several more previews to go and is refining her fringe debut hour with the same energy as a Lioness before kick-off. The commitment shows, with a journey of self-discovery from her early twenties becoming a universal lesson in celebrating who she is right now.
‘Absolutely No Worries If Not’, a phrase Ania admits she has used regularly in her early 20s, combines storytelling, snappy observations and silliness and surrealism that hinges around recent life events that include impulsively buying a cat on Gumtree and sleeping with an ex, both within 24 hours of a flatmate leaving for the night when restrictions eased.
Ania has been grafting away to hone her comedy credentials since she was 15, a commitment that is evident from the outset of our chat. Now 24, she says of those early days: “I guess I enjoyed watching stuff other people were making, both comedians on TV and youtubers who were funny, and got sort of jealous of the laughs they would get. And then I realised that was because it’s what I wanted to do! I also wasn’t particularly popular at school so the idea of being part of an online community and having somewhere else I could make friends was a bit of a draw.”
Ania also has a host of writing credits to her name writing regularly with Amelia Dimoldenberg for her shows Chicken Shop Date and Amelia’s Cooking Show as well as writing for comedians appearing on Frankie Boyle’s New World Order, BBC Radio 4’s Newsjack and more.
Combined, along with many other projects and charity volunteer work with older people, Ania has been on an accelerated journey of self-discovery, with a pandemic providing an extended interval between coming out as bisexual and comedy gigging.
“I think the pandemic crystallised that once comedy got back up and running again I was going to go all in and step it up. It felt very different initially as you can’t see people’s faces with masks, but gradually things feel more normal.”
“It’s my first hour and it’s going to be an introduction to the whole vibe of my comedy – silly, surreal and honest- and the pandemic is definitely a marker in the show’s themes as I explain how it impacted me after coming out as bisexual just before.”
“Refining the show through previews has been a journey in itself, and the realisation that my perspective on events and that my thoughts have a value not just in terms of being funny and making people laugh but in affirming my voice. The show I thought I was writing –coming out- became only part of the story, I think it gets around 20 minutes, there are lots of topics in there that make it a story that I hope encourages people to realise ‘it’s ok to be yourself’. There’s a universal truth in that, and I want people to see the show and feel good about themselves.”
Ania has consulted with comedy friends who’ve offered notes on the show, which has offered a perspective that has been valuable. She says: “There’s a bit in the show about a sex party that I was invited to. I had a friend come and see the show to take notes and he pointed out that I needed to fully commit to retelling it in my voice and I realised that in order to tell this story I needed to be completely honest.”
“I think the temptation in comedy can be to think ‘how can I make this funnier’ or how can I embellish this to make it funny. But I’ve found if I just stick to the truth of what happened and I get a laugh in response, it can be really affirming and cathartic, which helps you develop.”
Uniting audiences of all ages is something that Ania has been pleasantly surprised by as the show has developed, potentially honed by her charity work volunteering at East London Cares, where Ania supports older people by having a chat, group events or going for walks.
“There’s this myth about generational divides and this is a theme I considered for the show. That’s the beauty of live comedy, you get that immediate feedback of when the show has universal appeal and that’s the space I really want to explore more.”
“I want people to leave the show feeling that it’s OK to be themselves.”
It’s great to know our comedy leaders are stepping up to the plate in these tumultuous times to give a ray of hope this August. We could all do with a daily dose of Ania’s wisdom as the antidote to the last two years. Just make sure you book a ticket (absolutely no worries if not).
Ania Magliano’s debut show Absolutely No Worries If Not runs at Pleasance Courtyard – Bunker Three: 3rd – 28th August: 4.35pm. Previews £6 (3rd-4th) Concessions £9.50/£11 Book tickets here https://www.pleasance.co.uk/event/ania-magliano-absolutely-no-worries-if-not/performances