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D ubbed the Godmother of Scottish comedy and called ‘a fucking great comedian’ by none other than Billy Connolly, Janey Godley has never lacked plaudits from critics, audiences and fellow stand-ups. But there’s one opinion that she holds particularly dear, that of her comedian daughter Ashley Storrie. ‘She’s watched me go on stage in some rough rooms where I’ve nailed it,’ notes Godley. ‘And she’s said “I don’t know how you do that ma; it makes me angry because I can’t bottle what it is you just did”.’
While comedy is clearly in that family’s blood, Godley insists stand-up is not her first love or even particularly a passion. Acting was her true calling and back in the 90s she was determined to get an Equity card which would allow her more opportunities to secure roles. Having been advised that earning any kind of stage time would help her get that golden ticket, she tried her hand at stand-up, found she had a natural ability for it and set aside those acting dreams. In recent times, she’s appeared in Wild Rose (staring Jessie Buckley, Julie Walters and Sophie Okonedo) about a young woman trying to make her way in the world of country music, and has written and directed a short film entitled The Last Mermaid, while she’s also had a one- woman play run Off-Broadway. ‘I do comedy because it’s a job and I’m good at it,’ Godley
42 THE LIST 1 Feb–31 Mar 2020
We have a little natter with Janey Godley who’s putting the final touches to her Soup
Pot show. She tells Brian Donaldson that while stand- up might not be her first love she’s happy to be an inspiration for others
insists. ‘I don’t watch comedy; if it comes on the telly I turn it off and I certainly wouldn’t sit in a room and watch comedy for an hour.’ Despite this reticence for the artform, Godley has been a standard bearer for young working- class females who might fancy a stand-up career. ‘I was the first working-class Scottish female comic to do Have I Got News for You. There are girls from Glasgow who saw comedy as being Kevin Bridges and Frankie Boyle; they all went “that’s not our job, that’s for Scottish men”. But when they see me and Fern Brady, they think “yeah, that’s also a woman’s job”.’
Godley has been doing something different with her job lately, and the result is her Soup Pot tour which has two servings at the Glasgow Comedy Festival. She’ll be wielding a variety of talents as she delivers the kind of forthright stand-up which has earned her a strong reputation on the comedy circuit and that loyal band of followers. But Godley will also be displaying her skills at improv, as she stands by a screen and narrates adlibbed voiceovers of people (many of whom are today’s crop of politicians), giving them a heavy Scottish accent and inventing stories, many of which involve making soup for the community.
‘The soup pot is very universal: if you’re in Australia, America, Brazil, France Germany or Alaska, and someone dies or gets married, people will make soup. The soup pot is the hub of the community. When someone died near us when I was a kid, somebody would make the big soup pot so all the visitors had something warm to drink and eat. It’s part of us all being in it together. Of course, that was before people discovered they were gluten free and worried about being allergic to lentils.’
Janey Godley’s Soup Pot Tour, Byre Theatre, St Andrews, Tue 3 Mar; King’s Theatre, Glasgow, Sun 22, Wed 25 Mar.