Ania Magliano: ‘I’ve various jokes about males being violent. There’s a darkish undercurrent’

Ania Magliano: ‘I’ve various jokes about males being violent. There’s a darkish undercurrent’

I’m with the comic Ania Magliano for the afternoon. First, a cup of chai latte (“I’ve stop espresso to assist with anxiousness ranges”), adopted by a go to to Fightzone, an east London gymnasium the place she attends common boxing lessons for his or her anti-anxiety advantages. “In my physique, once I’m anxious or indignant, I retailer it in my arms. I wish to punch issues,” Magliano says. “There’s a little bit of a stereotype of, ‘Do you think about hitting somebody while you’re boxing?’. And, yeah, generally I do.”

Audiences for the 25-year-old’s newest set, I Can’t Imagine You’ve Completed This, will hear all about her forays into boxing, woven into a fancy story of private reconstruction. Nominated for greatest present on the Edinburgh comedy awards, it’s deceptively lighthearted. There’s foolish stuff a few horrible haircut, relationship, volunteering gone awry and a threesome. These jokes present cowl for extra delicate topics: breast discount surgical procedure, the urge to remain secure and, on the root of all of it, trauma.

All the tales are true, although Magliano laughs that she’s worse at boxing than the present implies. She first tried it earlier than the pandemic. “I used to be going by a tough level in my life. This was genuinely the thought course of: I like scorching climate and I’ve accomplished two boxercise lessons. So I Googled ‘field camp Thailand’.” She stop her job, left London understanding she must transfer in along with her mum when she returned, and spent a month at a Thai boxing retreat. “Nobody does one thing that excessive in the event that they haven’t acquired one thing excessive to recover from.”

That excessive factor was a sexual assault. The way in which an expertise like that ripples out into your life is on the coronary heart of Magliano’s new present.

There are cliches about “trauma” exhibits in comedy: jokes giving method to solemnity on the 40-minute mark to get the viewers weeping. When a performer will get it unsuitable, it could possibly really feel uncooked, unresolved, uncomfortable. Magliano spent months, overnearly 40 previews looking for the steadiness. Reasonably than deal with the expertise itself – the present needed to be humorous, plus she didn’t wish to carry up undesirable reminiscences for anybody watching – Magliano fastidiously and intentionally talks about its impression. Why did she wish to really feel bodily robust? Why was she avoiding romantic connection? Why did the botched haircut make her really feel so powerless?

Gloves off … Ania Magliano. {Photograph}: Avalon

“It went by various levels of exploring the parallels between having a foul haircut and extra traumatic stuff,” she says. “I used to be wrestling with getting a tough matter to work on stage in a approach that didn’t go away folks feeling like full shit. That was what pushed it in fairly a unique path.”

In 2016, simply earlier than she headed to the College of Cambridge to review English, Magliano acquired a job on the Edinburgh pageant fringe, intending to enhance her theatre data. As soon as there, colleagues really useful comedy exhibits. She recollects a Desiree Burch routine about oral intercourse: “It was the primary time I’d seen comedy that was empowering and made me be ok with myself. It was a revelation. I used to be like: that is so what I wish to do.”

5 days after the perimeter, she tried standup herself. It didn’t go nicely: “There’s one thing liberating about your first gig going badly. I bear in mind strolling off stage considering: if that’s the worst that may occur, I can deal with it. If that’s dying in your arse, it’s type of a rush.”

She was decided to make comedy her college interest, and gravitated in the direction of the well-known Footlights group. She discovered a strict hierarchy, dominated by males. Participating within the society’s tour present, she “had detrimental experiences in all of the alternative ways potential”. As one in all two feminine performers, she discovered the boys reluctant to offer them humorous components.

So Magliano and two associates arrange Stockings, a comedy society for ladies and non-binary folks. There could be no auditions, only a supportive house to develop concepts and carry out. At Edinburgh this yr, a former member approached her on the road. “She mentioned: ‘I might by no means have accomplished comedy if it wasn’t for that.’”

Publish-Cambridge, she moved to the capital, acquired a job at a startup, and started performing comedy within the evenings, consuming “a tragic tub of Huel” for dinner. However residing again house after the Thailand escape, the pandemic started. With no stay exhibits, Magliano started placing movies on TikTok. “You get hooked on the likes and views, however you don’t get the reward of listening to folks snicker.”

Punching up … Ania Magaliano.
Punching up … Ania Magaliano. {Photograph}: Antonio Olmos/The Observer

As stay gigs returned, she “wiped the slate clear” and targeted on new materials. “I had a little bit of a chip on my shoulder that I might get criticised for not having sufficient jokes,” she says. Her debut present, Completely No Worries If Not, arrived on the 2022 Edinburgh fringe full of punchlines. In some methods it was a basic introductory hour, with jokes about Magliano’s household (Polish mum, Italian dad and their divorce), quarter-life disaster, and bisexuality – but additionally surreal detours about “horse ladies” and Jacqueline Wilson. She initially wrote it as a coming-out story, however guided by her director, Edinburgh Comedy Award-winner Jordan Brookes, realised that “popping out wasn’t an enormous story in my life; that then grew to become the joke”.

That want to transcend the apparent is perfected in Magliano’s newest present, as she vegetation seeds with every joke that repay because the hour unfolds. She says: “I needed to make a present the place each half wanted to be in it. I needed to really feel like there was a motive for it to exist.”

She had by no means thought of speaking about her breast discount surgical procedure on stage, however a dialog with the comic Sarah Keyworth helped her see it was “the proper quantity of susceptible and foolish. And strange – audiences are like: ‘I’m listening!’ I’m glad I discuss it now, it’s very releasing. However that is fairly private. The surgical procedure was a giant choice and I didn’t inform everybody in my life. I assumed folks may decide me.”

As she introduced in different components, a theme emerged. “Just a few folks had been like: ‘You might have various jokes about males being violent, what’s occurring?’ There’s a darkish undercurrent.”

She delved deeper into that. In any present that touches on private trauma, the performer should determine how a lot to disclose. “Generally folks don’t realise that it’s a susceptible factor to do,” Magliano says. “Particularly when you appear snug speaking about it on stage.” The refined method she settled on permits her to be truthful with out compromising her personal wellbeing when performing evening after evening. “There was a model of the present that was rather a lot more durable to do. I might come away from previews feeling utterly rinsed out.”

Cheeky … Ania Magaliano.
Cheeky … Ania Magaliano. {Photograph}: Antonio Olmos/The Observer

She initially talked in regards to the authorized complexities surrounding sexual assault. Many individuals can’t converse publicly about being assaulted after receiving authorized threats or motion. It’s one thing Magliano has personally skilled. However makes an attempt to include these particulars into the present had been “altering the temper irreparably” amongst audiences, forcing her to drop them.

Magliano nonetheless performs with moments of stress – one specific joke about sexual assault that she saved within the present normally provokes gasps. “That’s truthful to how I’m,” she says. “A whole lot of my associates who’ve had comparable experiences, we do make jokes to one another and discuss candidly. The true approach it’s spoken about just isn’t one thing I’d seen folks do in a present.”

That realness linked with folks. “Essentially the most significant compliments I acquired had been from individuals who might relate to it very a lot. The way in which they spoke to me was so unimaginable, but additionally implicitly unhappy; I want you couldn’t relate to this.” Fortuitously, there was mild with the darkish – many individuals confirmed her images of their very own dangerous haircuts, too.

Sexual misconduct continues to be an unresolved challenge within the arts. Magliano’s Edinburgh run got here earlier than the publication of allegations in opposition to Russell Model and she or he wonders if audiences would have reacted otherwise “if everybody on the earth had been serious about how comedians are sexual predators”.

However she feels it’s an indication of progress that audiences now actively embrace a younger lady performing a present of this nature. “It’s come far sufficient that I can discuss this on stage and persons are open to it.”

Now, the sentiments that Magliano explores within the present, that drove her to that Thai boxing camp, aren’t as pressing. However the interest nonetheless has its place, she tells me beside the boxing ring. “I don’t know the way a lot I’ve realized right here would assist me in a struggle,” she says. “But it surely means you’ve acquired slightly secret in your again pocket.”

Magliano excursions I Can’t Imagine You’ve Completed This, 12 January to twenty-eight March; tour begins Belfast.

Data and assist for anybody affected by rape or sexual abuse points is accessible from Rape Disaster on 0808 500 2222 in England and Wales, 0808 801 0302 in Scotland, or 0800 0246 991 in Northern Eire. Within the US, Rainn gives assist on 800-656-4673. In Australia, assist is accessible at 1800Respect (1800 737 732). Different worldwide helplines could be discovered at

Supply hyperlink