A BUNCH of stand-up comedians, a film crew and a skipper are all stuck on a canal boat. It sounds like the set-up for a joke punchline but is, in fact, an accurate description of the living arrangements for the next few weeks of a former Portadown woman, who is steering a 69ft-long narrowboat from London to Edinburgh as part of an unique comedy tour.
Actress and aspiring stand-up comedian, Nicola Redman, (27) is skipper of the Pleasance Ahoy Comedy Boat which is slowly making its way to the Scottish capital in time for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
On the way, Nicola, whose parents are originally from the Moy Road but now operate a B&B in the Scottish Lowlands, will dock the narrowboat for a series of comedy gigs along the meandering route, stopping off in cities like Oxford, Manchester and Glasgow.
Comedians who are ‘all aboard’ include E4 comedy rising stars, Seb Cardinal and Dustin Demri-Burns of the popular Cardinal Burns sketch show, Edinburgh Comedy Award nominee, Cariad Lloyd, and BBC Two’s ‘New Act of the Year’ finalist Chris Turner.
As well as steering the crowded boat, Nicola will also be appearing on stage, acting as compere and even performing stand-up once she reaches Edinburgh.
“I’m having a great time,” Nicola told the Portadown Times via telephone as the canal docked on a waterway at Henley-on-Thames on day seven of the adventure. “We set off last Thursday from Islington, London then we performed a gig at the ‘Little Venice’ venue.
“(Canal boating) is a great way to travel. It allows you to see the country in a completely different way. And I think what we’re doing, particularly for young people who wouldn’t really know anything about canals, highlights that.”
Not only responsible for navigating the narrowboat, Nicola is shooting podcasts, writing a ‘captain’s blog’ and helping the film crew. But asked how she ended up with the rather unusual ‘gig’ and the response elicits a laugh from Nicola.
“I was working for a theatre group and they were doing a canal tour. I learned how to steer the narrowboat, thinking, rather sarcastically, that this is just some weird random skill that I must put on my CV, never really expecting to be a skipper again.
“Then the Pleasance Theatre group, which organised this, asked if they knew anyone interested in comedy but could also steer a narrowboat and here I am!”
Once the boat hits the Scottish border, the comedy barge will travel to Edinburgh via Glasgow and Falkirk in time for the annual festival.
“I’ll be doing some comedy myself. First though, I have to return the boat to Glasgow, then I have to do some gigs in Newcastle and then I’ll be able to head back to the festival,” added Nicola.
To read about Nicola’s journey, visit: www.pleasanceahoy.com. You can also find out more about Nicola at www.comedycv.co.uk/nicolaredman/index.html and follow her on Twitter: twitter.com/#!/Irishpickle.