This is a Q&A post with Deborah Hodge about inspiration, comedy and life in general. Deborah has achieved many things in life such as appearing on television, standing up to her beliefs, and writing a novel just to name a few things.
Has comedy always been something that has come naturally to you?
Well Natasha, I was bullied at school for looking different. I was raised by my grandparents and wore second-hand clothes. My coping mechanism was to make people laugh so the bullies then left me alone. Children can be quite brutal.
I guess I left the comedy aside for a long time whilst I pursued my different “portfolio” careers. I began in bar work whilst doing my degree in Art and Literature, then took over as manager and finally ran my own bar. My personality was always a real feature of this and I would often draw in big crowds for club nights.
After a stint in newspapers, sales and a few other roles I settled on being a teacher. I did this for 12 years and at my height was a deputy head teacher. Again, my flair for interacting with people meant I got great results. I led quite a comfortable life until personal events literally turned me upside down.
After two disastrous relationships and a new baby, I was left scarred, battered and in shock. However, this proved to be not only a physical jolt, it was a metaphorical kick up the bum too.
I guess here you ask what my advice is for other people?
Well, I would say work on your material first and foremost. I quite by accident got into comedy one night at a domestic abuse charity event and people were laughing.
It’s quite intoxicating when people find you funny. I was talking about bad stuff yes, but at the same time not taking myself seriously. From this developed different routines and I am currently working on more age appropriate material for Britain’s got talent.
You have to be incredibly resilient. People may boo, you may get a tumbleweed reaction, or, as has happened to me – those rare nights when you get a standing ovation. My comedy is also quite subversive. I like to explore different mediums as a comedian too. I am so open on my LinkedIn that I made up a story to appear on Judge Rinder for example. I have been in the press about “marrying Richard Branson” and even having a sex addiction.
So many stories and I will carry on as long as the press will print them. The funny side for me is that people believe what is written in the press, but for me it is all part of the bigger picture.
You ask me about advice for writing a novel
Well, the publicity seeking first started when I self-published a novel and no one bought it. For me it was incredibly important as it was my autobiography.
My advice would be to just write. Write passionately and do not think about who will read it. Be true to yourself. Write every day and be strict with yourself too. Gosh, the skills it takes to be a creative person are I think to have life experience and always push oneself out of the comfort zone. If it is easy then it’s static. Enthusiasm for living is also important as it keeps your work fresh.
Overall I would say, don’t take yourself seriously. Don’t worry about what other people think and have confidence that what you are doing is different.
For me, the end game is all the dots join together. All my art, my writing, my poetry, stand-up comedy, press pieces and even all the television appearances I have made or in the pipeline. I am amazed I have got away with what I am doing for so long but even though life is very stressful because of our situation, if I fail, I will go down with a smile.
My biggest inspiration has been my children. We had such a terrible time of it for a few years there. My baby nearly died, my kids had post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) yet they bounced back. It was them that asked never to move again. It was the children who wanted to stay in Norman (our house) and it was them who have overcome great adversity and inspire me every day.
They are the best part of me and they are proud of what I am doing because they understand the humour behind things and we have had a good laugh at some of the pieces that have been published about us. I have a job to start in January and now have a publisher with two books coming out next year so hopefully 2017 will be the year we can afford to buy our forever home.
Check out her novel here.