Phoebe Waller-Bridge Loves Shocking the Fleabag Audience

-For those who don’t know,
this started as a 10-minute show that you then developed into
an hour-long stage show that you then adapted yourself
into a television show. And now you have brought it back
to a one-hour stage show in New York City. -I am milking it for everything
it’s worth. [ Laughter ] -There will be nothing left
after this. -No, no. She’s exhausted. -And it’s sold out,
which is fantastic. Congratulations. I always feel bad when people — [ Cheers and applause ]
Yeah. -Thanks. -When people come on
to promote something and they can’t gain anything
from their appearance here. Do you have any — Because
you’ve done it for so long and had it in your life
for so long, can you still get nervous
before a show? Is that something that happens? -Yeah, yeah.
-Okay. -No, absolutely. Yeah, it’s just that moment
of hell just like three seconds
before you go — like I just had here now,
actually. [ Laughter ] Just before you go on, when you
go, “Why do we do this?” And then you’re there, and then
you’re like, “Oh, this is why.” -Is there a moment — I mean,
there’s the first scene, which was the first scene in the
television show, as well, yes? That you opened.
-Yes. -I mean, that’s such
a good scene. You must have a moment of like, “If I can just get to
that first laugh here, then I’ll be off and running.” -Yeah, once you get the first
one down, you’re okay. Yeah. And it’s nice, because I have
recorded voices in the show, so it feels like — even though
it’s a one-person show, it’s between me,
my stage manager Shaw, and the recorded voices. -The recorded voices — are those the original
recorded voices? Have you ever redone those? -No, no, no, yeah, that’s
the director’s ex-boyfriend. -Oh, wow!
[ Laughter ] -So he still remains. -And there’s sound effects,
as well? Was this something you spend
a lot of money on, getting the voices
and sound effects? No, okay.
-No. No, when we first put the play
together, I mean, we had, like, no budget and we have so many
sound effects in the show. We had to sort of do them
all ourselves, really. My mom is one of them —
just is one of them. [ Laughter ] -She’s a voice in the show.
-She’s a voice in the show. And then my sister
did the sound design. And there’s, kind of —
there’s like porn sounds during the show, so she had to
go and create those for us. [ Laughter ] -Not from scratch.
I hope she went to the Internet. [ Laughter ] -She did go to the Internet. She came in like, “Ooh.” And then the rest we
sort of created ourselves. -Gotcha.
-Yeah. -Were any of them hard to create
or were they pretty…? -Well, there’s quite a lot of
talk about sex in the show. And there was one point that we
wanted a kind of sex sound effect that was less
sort of fireworky than the porn sound effect. So, we needed kind of a light
sort of slapping noise. [ Laughter ]
You know. You know. [ Laughter ] And so we couldn’t work out
what the right sound was. And we decided —
I don’t know how you end up in these situations,
but I ended up in a cupboard with my sister in the dark
with my director just gently tapping my bum
like this. [ Laughter ] And that’s in the show,
9:00 every night. -Wow, that’s really great.
[ Cheers and applause ] Do you have any pre-show
ritual at all? -Oh, yeah, yeah. Myself and Shaw,
our stage manager, we shout, “You and me, baby,”
to each other. I have to shout it
and she shouts it back. And then for some reason,
since we’ve come to New York, we also shout “bocca di lupo.” -Which is, “bocca di lupo?” -Mouth of the wolf.
-Oh, wow. [ Laughter ] -But it’s also a really lovely
restaurant in London. -Oh, well, there you go.
It’s a nice thing to yell. I like you said some reason, like, you guys didn’t come up
with it. [ Laughter ] -It did feel like that. We decided then we were like,
oh, no, that’s gonna be — I don’t know how long it’s going
to go on for. -That’s gonna stay.
-That’s gonna stay. -There are obviously —
it’s very funny, but there are some real moments of emotional resonance
in the show. There’s a — there’s a gasp
moment in the show. Certainly when I was there. Is that something that happens? And is that something
you’re happy when you hear it? -Oh, yeah. That’s another one of those
moments where you think, “We’ve still got them.” Like, even if it’s a quiet
audience, if there’s a gasp — it’s called the guinea pig gasp
for reasons that, you know, you’ll have to work out. Something happens
to the guinea pig. And when I first scripted it
in the early previews, I was describing this thing that
happens to the guinea pig, and it just wasn’t
landing with the audience. And I was doing two or three
previews in, and I was like, “I don’t feel I’m getting
a reaction from them.” And Vicky Jones, the director
and I, we sat around, and I sort of changed the words
a bit, changed the rhythm of what I was saying, and then
there was one night when I said, “Okay, we’re gonna try it
with this new rhythm.” And I said what happens
to the guinea pig. And the entire audience went…
[ Gasps ] And I went…
[ Gasps ] [ Laughter ]
So now it happens. And then last night, actually, I tried something
a little bit different, and the audience laughed, but there was one woman in the
audience that kind of just — the gasp went the wrong way
and she just ended up screaming. She said, “Aah!”
[ Laughter ] -Because, of course, you adapted
and unlike your stage show, in which there are
no guinea pigs, there are physical guinea pigs
in the television show, because you run a
guinea-pig-themed café. -Yes, yes. -And I did not believe
this was true, but you brought proof
in order to get — when you wanted to find
guinea pigs for the show, they sent you head shots. -Well, yes. Yes.
[ Laughter ] We needed one guinea pig,
Hillary, and so we had to find her. And, of course, they sent us
the “A” list. -The best guinea pigs.
-The best guinea pigs. [ Laughter ] And they told us —
we spoke to a few handlers, and they sent us
these head shots. We decided they were the
equivalent of Hollywood stars. -Okay.
[ Laughter ] -This was like — She’s like the Jennifer Lawrence
of the guinea pigs. [ Laughter ] You can — She’s got real depth
and also kind of blond. Well, this is the Emma Stone. -Emma Stone guinea pig.
Sure, yea. -Clearly got range.
-Clearly got range. You can tell, like,
funny and serious. [ Laughter ] -She actually got the job
in the end. -Oh, she did.
You went with Emma Stone. -Yeah, yeah, Emma.
I mean, how could you resist? This is actually Ryan Gosling. -Oh.
[ Laughter ] I can see that. -The gender, obviously, neutral
in our casting. He came up.
He didn’t quite make the cut. -Gotcha.
-Yeah. [ Audience aws ]
I know. [ Laughter ] I mean, I really wanted
to give her the gig. But she’s not quite right. I’m not going to say who
that reminds me of, actually. -Really? You’re not?
[ Laughter ] I will say — I will say
this guinea pig looks like it was maybe out a little late. -Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
[ Laughter ] -And you maybe couldn’t quite
depend on it showing up on time. [ Laughter ] -Or when she does,
it’s really raw and edgy stuff. -And they were like, “If you can get her out of
her trailer, she’s great.” [ Laughter ] But sometimes she’s just —
she’s in the wheel and she’s — -Yeah, yeah.
[ Laughter ]


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