Exclusive Star Jayde Adams: ‘Women smash it babes. Men have to work a little harder

JAyde Adams frowns at a group of obnoxiously loud men. Her laughter drowns out our conversation—but she doesn’t buy her laughter. “I know what a fake laugh is, and that’s a fake laugh,” she says, frowning. “It’s like, ‘I’m really trying to make the people I’m sitting on laugh.'” After many years on stage — as a cabaret artist, Adele drag act, and now as a stand-up comedian — she is something like a “sommelier of laughter”. And she has no time for fake laughs. On cue, the loudest man clucks again. Adams rolls his eyes. “I can say. You know how? Because it’s exactly the same every time. That’s quite a manly laugh. He’s sat with men and shows off.”

Adams has been thinking a lot about men lately: her latest show Men I can save you, watches the Bristol-born comedian transform into an all-white-clad Russell Brand-esque self-help guru. It’s her fifth Edinburgh Fringe Show as a stand-up, after a decade of performing at the festival. The world beyond the Royal Mile finally seems to be catching up. Your 2020 Amazon Prime comedy special The Ballad of Kylie Jenner’s Old Face (renamed to Serious black sweater “so I don’t get sued by Kris Jenner”) pushed Adams out of the “Fringe Celebrity” bracket. Clips circulated on TikTok, where they were viewed 156 million times, making her a star on the platform. There were also presentation appearances (Insanely delicious, Snackmasters) and acting roles (Alma is not normalthe coming take that movie) with her own sitcom Ruby speaks out next year. And of course there is a spot on Be sure to come dance, announced last week. “I manifest things you wouldn’t believe,” she tells me beforeStrict Notice. Turns out she wasn’t joking.

Expect the nation’s legion Strict Fans who are immediately enchanted by her. When we meet it’s the hottest day of the year; London’s public transport system has melted into a puddle. Adams comes in, pulls me into a hug, and apologetically explains in her thick West Country accent that she had to take a tuk-tuk to get here.

Despite this sweaty ride, Adams appears relaxed. She exudes confidence — not just in her new show, but in her standing in the comedy world. These days, she’s a self-proclaimed “Boujie B****” who plays in theaters rather than clubs. The audience bought tickets to see them specifically. “It’s been a long time since I’ve been to a blue collar club that wasn’t taken over by drag queens,” she says. The one at Bethnal Green? she nods. “Last time I was there I damaged my ACL doing a scissor kick to PJ and Duncan’s ‘Let’s Get Ready to Rhumble.'”

But these venues, she says, are a boon for stand-up comedians. After all, there’s nothing quite like a raucous crowd teaching you the “little tricks” of the trade as you work your way up the ladder. “It’s part of the job,” she says. “The job is to entertain people, and you’ll become a better comedian if you learn how to handle those things. I don’t want to preach to converts on shows I do… and actually an audience likes to be dominated too. They love it when you get them.”

in the Men I can save you, Adams explores her own savior complex. For them, as a group that needed their help, men were an obvious choice. “It’s not the women, the women get to the point. And then the gender-free people seem to have a great time, too,” she says, pointing to the Pride flags on the walls. “We’re smashing it babes… Everyone’s really getting their money’s worth right now and men have to work a little harder.”

Adams (right) with Sophie Willan in Alma Is Not Normal

(BBC/Expectation/Matt Squire)

The problem, she has observed, is that men see a move towards equality as a loss of their own position; then they feel hurt. “The average man doesn’t know he has privilege, and now everyone’s like, ‘You got it and we want it back.'” She adds that cautiously Men I can save you is not a “man bash-y show”. But she learned one thing from it Serious black sweater, and People Online who accused her of bullying Kylie Jenner: ‘If I can’t even criticize billionaires, who’s left? Straight Whites. No one will come after me if I start making jokes about Gregg Wallace.”

Adams says it with tongue on cheek—she quips, “What’s better [men] than having a comedian slash actress to help them through these trying times? But the special has a more serious side. It also addresses the very real issue of loss. Adams describes herself as “a bit of an aficionado” on the subject after her older sister, Jenna, died of a brain tumor in 2011.

(Jordan Rossi/Hunger)

As children, Adams and Jenna competed in freestyle disco dance competitions together. They remained close throughout adulthood. The comedian has spoken a lot about her sister’s death on stage, always with the attitude that neither of them should be pitied. She still remembers their bond to this day through an anecdote in which Jenna punched herself in the face – she was trying to get a boy in trouble who was attacking Adams at school. “Everyone says, ‘Oh my God, she must have been such an angel,’ and she was… but she was also tough and working class and a little bit bruised at times,” she says. “I refused to let anyone talk about her romantically.”

There was a moment in lockdown when her perspective softened. Adams describes a cinematic scene: She’s writing a screenplay and looking out the window, Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde Part Three plays in her headphones. “It’s the music that Romeo and Juliet end up swimming around in the water to [of Baz Luhrmann’s film]… I thought wouldn’t it be amazing to see a working class character die in the arms of someone they love and have an epic movie like moment. And I had this realization that my sister had actually died in the arms of someone she loved. Because she died in my arms.”

She swells. “It was in that moment in 2020 that I realized I had only been focused on the loss and those funny stories. Which I only understood 11 years later [was] i have been loved I have searched my whole life to be loved and then when I realized what love is I thought I need search no more because I had it and I had it in the purest possible form… I realized when everything I had loved had been taken away and I must stop looking for it now. I just have to start living.”

Grief, she says, would be her special topic in a “very sad” episode thought leader. “Eleven years later, I’m still talking about it,” she says. “The early stages of grief are the most intense, romantic and brutal stages, but what happens to loss and grief 11 years later? For me, that becomes love and confidence and self-confidence.”

I have been loved and I must stop looking for it now. I just have to start living

A week after our interview, it was announced that Adams would make that Strict Dance floor. From my years of watching the show, it seems like a shoo-in for the glitterball to me. We’re talking again and she admits that audiences might not like her dance background, but “I just think if Ashley Roberts from The Pussycat Dolls can go on the show, then Jayde Adams can go on it… I don’t have a dancer’s body anymore . It’s going to be hard work for me, as it was for Bill Bailey.”

When I heard she was joining the Class of 2022, my first thought was comedian Bailey – the dark horse of the 2020 contest and eventual champion. Adams is equally confident she can go all the way. Finally, she says, “I’ve never entered a competition that I didn’t think I could win… I go into this competition with as much ambition as I did when I was 11 years old about freestyle disco dancing.”

“Strictly speaking, that’s all I’ve ever worked towards”

(Jordan Rossi/Hunger)

She continues, “One of the most visually stunning things about me is that I have a lightness about me, even though I’m not light… At my height, don’t-” She pauses and chooses her words. “I don’t want to talk about my size this whole journey because no one has spoken to Bill Bailey or anyone else about it. They haven’t talked to the men about it.” But a win for Adams that shows people of all sizes can move and be talented dancers would be groundbreaking. “I think it would be a very powerful message about body positivity. Not there in a pulpit preaching it, but actually putting it into practice.”

And of course, dancing was a big part of Adam’s relationship with her sister: it’s easy to see how much competition there is Strict must mean to them. It’s an objectively great achievement, “everything I’ve ever worked towards.” But for the comedian and her family, the emotions behind it run deep. She recalls a childhood “that was lagging behind [Jenna]that holds her back in our dance competitions”. In fact, “the last time I danced with anyone was with Jenna,” she recalls. “So this is a huge deal.”

Jayde Adams performs her show Men, I Can Save You at the Pleasance Courtyard, Cabaret Bar from 3rd to 28th August at 8.20pm as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. More information and tickets available here

https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/comedy/features/jayde-adams-interview-edinburgh-fringe-strictly-b2141238.html Exclusive Star Jayde Adams: ‘Women smash it babes. Men have to work a little harder


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