Comedy, candour and consent: Alex Fice catches up with Grace Campbell ahead of her upcoming show at Cambridge Junction
Hilariously outspoken, feisty and full of wit, Grace Campbell is a certified comic tour de force. Following a hugely successful sold-out run at Edinburgh Festival Fringe last year, the 28-year-old is currently touring her latest stand-up offering, A Show About Me(n), promising to shine a light on the comedian’s complex relationship – and relationships – with men.
It’s a topic Grace isn’t afraid to speak about openly or indeed explicitly, talking breezily about her sex life as if in the company of close friends rather than a room full of strangers. “When I first started out, I mainly talked about politics and my childhood in politics,” says Grace, who is the daughter of Alastair Campbell, best-known as Tony Blair’s spin doctor. “However, I found it didn’t lend itself to my style, so I started writing about my personal life instead, which I enjoy so much more. I love talking about my family, friends and what’s been going on in my sex life, it’s such a great way to connect with people.”
In fact, she makes a point of getting the audience involved in all her shows, asking direct questions about their own relationships, often eliciting extraordinarily candid responses. “I love hearing what other people are going through,” Grace enthuses. “I feel my shows always have very ‘no judgement’ vibes; the audience opens up a lot. Probably because I’ve already told them so much about myself, a lot of which is quite shocking and doesn’t paint me in the most amazing light! But I love giving advice and it’s great each show feels like loads of people hanging out together, sharing stuff about their love lives.”
Grace’s ‘no judgement’ attitude is a common thread throughout her work. In 2020 she published her first book, titled Amazing Disgrace: A Book About “Shame”, offering a relentlessly funny and honest snapshot of her life and attitudes towards traditionally taboo topics. However, she has also written frankly in The Guardian about how – after being sexually assaulted in Las Vegas last year – she felt unable to approach the police, due to the sex-positive nature of her comedy. Within the article, she talks about imagining her own content – passages from her book, sketch-style videos from her Instagram, or sections of her stand-up comedy – being used against her if she tried to bring the case to justice.
As a result of the experience, Grace is determined to increase her activism and campaigning around the subject of consent. “Unfortunately, not much progress has been made in the last few years and so much more needs to be done,” she says. “There are many flaws in the system, making it really difficult to convict the perpetrators of sexual violence. There’s also not much mental health support for victims. On top of that, a lot of people still don’t really know the basic notions of consent. It’s a huge topic and something where that article barely even scratches the surface.”
These other main passions – writing and feminist activism – are clearly of great importance to Grace. Would she ever leave stand-up behind to pursue them full- time? “No, I will always do it. Definitely,” she assures us. “It’s the thing I enjoy most, and makes me feel the most present. Even if I became, like, a Hollywood star, I would always do stand-up!”
See Grace perform A Show About Me(n) live at Cambridge Junction on 7 March. Tickets are available from junction.co.uk