I used to work in the City for an American company selling IT software to investment banks and insurance companies. Gradually they made more and more people redundant, and when the pound went through the floor it was pretty obvious my days were numbered.
I’d started doing comedy two and a half years ago as a drunken bet with one of my clients. I used to just do open mike nights to de-stress. The world of sales is very aggressive: I was walking around with hair in a tight bun, wearing Gucci dresses, high-heels and pearls. Comedy was just a good release. Then I got made redundant last December. Now I’m in platforms and hotpants.
I never thought I’d go from City girl to full-time comedian. But things have really taken off. Comedy flourishes in a recession – people want more for their money, and if they’re spending £3 on a pint they want something more to go with it.
I’m still doing some freelance consultancy work for that steady income, but I get paid from £500 to £1,000 for corporate comedy gigs - people in the City always like to have one of their own come and compere their events. I understand what they do, whereas other comics may not know the difference between a wholesale and general insurer - or be able to joke about it.
My sales and marketing experience really helps. Most comedians don’t understand branding, networking and being flexible with what you’re doing, but I change my gig and approach depending on the client. I’ll write a gig for the WWF that’s eco based, but my club night stand-up is more about showing that hot chicks can be funny too. Pubs and clubs now ask me to organise events for them. Because I come from a corporate background they trust me.
Redundancy made me reassess my life. Instead I followed what I wanted to do and everything started coming my way. I’ve since declined two job offers in the City, because I don’t need one. I didn’t go round saying: ‘I’ve been made redundant’. I got a plan together first. People react better to a good news story, so I built a website to tell everyone the idea and ask: do you know anyone who wants to hire me? People like plans, and they like being able to help with success stories.
I’m a hundred times happier now. Yes, I’m earning a lot less money - I’ve had to move out of my house and rent a flat - but I didn’t realise how unhappy I was before. Plus I don’t need the money I used to. I don’t need all those shoes for work: I’m a comedian, I wear Adidas.
MT spoke to Thea through freelance marketplace PeoplePerHour.