Equipped with lyrical dexterity, artistic flair and the relentlessly ability to penetrate the bubble of ‘truth,’ Kat Francois is the critically acclaimed poetic genius, who has put the ‘hip’ back into poetry. As Poetry Slam Competition Champion, Playwright, Educator and Resident Poet, she has evidently reached the pinnacle within the poetic sphere. However, with two nights in a 450 seat auditorium at the Theatre Royal in Stratford, Kat Francois is determined to infiltrate the comedy circuit, with her distinctive flamboyance and unique take on life, dog mess and the brazen naming of private parts.
You are already a successful multifaceted artiste, what urged you to enter the comedy circuit?
It’s a natural progression. I’ve hosted my own show for seven years in a bar in Stratford East and it can get quite rowdy. I have used comedy as a way to control the audience and give them some licks.
What can your audience expect to see in your show ‘Kat’s got your tongue?’
Pure madness, pure jokes and new exclusive characters. I always thought it was dangerous to mix humour with controversial issues, but you can. ‘Kats got your tongue’ is all about issues personal to me, ranging from police violence to being a carer in a home.
You mentioned the creation of new characters for this show; will Grenadian Granny make an appearance?
Yes, she is back along with an array of characters, from the white girl who doesn’t understand the black culture, to the voluptuous female who poetically speaks in verse. I think characters are important, as they allow you to behave quite badly, whilst giving you the opportunity to voice what everyone is thinking.
You are renowned for using your unique style to push boundaries and tackle controversial issues. Is there any topic you wouldn’t use as material?
I try to restrain from talking about issues that might upset my family, but this is something I have struggled with. The pressure is doubled coming from a Caribbean background, because the older generation is so private. I try to do everything in a way that doesn’t identify anybody and hope that family members will appreciate why I need to tackle certain topics. I feel sorry for my mum; having a daughter with such a big mouth. Even my friends joke about divulging information in case it provides the content for one of my shows.
Last year your run of this show sold out and you received extraordinary reviews from people like Angie Le Mar. As a comedienne what is your selling point?
Alongside my character sketches, it has to be the confidence and comfortableness that I gained from my performing. I might be new to the comedy circuit, but I have hosted, entertained and bared my heart on stage. I hope to build a unique presence by using my acting and improvisation skills together, with the insertion of funny poetic pieces to truly reflect my shameless personality. My dream is to launch myself, obtain recognition on the comedy scene and for people to love what they see.
You have an extensive performance record, but do you still get butterflies before you go on stage?
Of course I do! I was balling in the changing room before last year’s show. People see you on stage and assume you are confident, but your mind is telling you the total opposite. The beauty of nerves is that once you claim your space and everything comes together, you just fly. I don’t doubt that I will be crying in the changing room again in July.
Do you ever catch yourself rehearsing your lines or practising in public?
As a performer you have to be shameless and be prepared to practice on the train, tube and on the street. Surprisingly, my boyfriend is not impressed when I do my GG sketch in bed.
Who or what makes you laugh?
Life! I’m amused by silly little things that a lot of people miss. I love Eddie Murphy on Raw, but Richard Pryor is the ultimate. He speaks his truth, no fabrications and you cannot be funnier than that.
If the Flavour genie could give you a venue to make a debut performance, where would it be and who would get that VIP pass?
I’d want an off-the-hook, rock concert feel at somewhere big like Wembley. When I was in Dance College, the head told me to forget about performing, I’d want her to share in my moment of glory.
Kat can be found online at www.katfrancois.com and on Facebook and Twitter @KatFrancois.
‘Kat’s Got Your Tongue’ takes place on the main stage at Theatre Royal Stratford East on Sunday 10th & Monday 11th July 2011
Words by Sarah James- Cyrus