The big interview: Comedienne Sally-Anne Hayward

The British funnywoman is coming to Abu Dhabi with The Laughter Factory

Sally-Anne Hayward
Sally-Anne Hayward
Sally-Anne Hayward  Image #2
Sally-Anne Hayward

Interviewing a comedian can be a daunting prospect. You imagine they’re just waiting to trip you up on something you’ve said, ready to cut you down with their razor-sharp wit. They’re also a tribe known for being difficult in person, rubbing against the grain of their more affable on-stage persona. Or, maybe, their whole shtick is being misanthropic and you’re worried they’re really like that in person.

All three can be true, of course, and, equally, none can be. We’ve spoken to newcomers who can be hard work, and big names who are just lovely. One famously deadpan comic was one of the nicest people we’ve ever spoken to, in stark contrast to his curmudgeonly appearance, while one of Northern Britain’s most cheeky chappies was a right old misery guts who couldn’t wait to wrap it up and move on.

So, when the response to our first question about Sally-Anne Hayward’s style of comedy is “some people say I’m dark”, we’re wary of what’s to come. We needn’t have worried, however, as Hayward is a lovely person to chat to. But there’s clearly more to her act than being a friendly face.

“I suppose I’m just not that sympathetic,” she says. “I’m not on stage to make people feel better about themselves”.

Hayward is one of three stand-ups coming to the capital for this month’s Laughter Factory tour. She’ll be joined by US comic Jimmy Schubert and Canadian Nick Beaton for a gig at Park Rotana Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, July 18.

The cross-Atlantic line-up won’t be short on laughs, with Schubert proving a big hit in the US and landing roles in the likes of Entourage and King of Queens, and Beaton, who has made audiences laugh across the world. It’s the first time any of the three have performed in the UAE, and Hayward is looking forward to seeing what’s in store.

She says: “I guess it’s mainly an expat crowd. I don’t know that much about the UAE either, other than I expect it to be really civilised. I’m really looking forward to it, and I’m pleased to be coming over. Gail [Clough, Laughter Factory founder] and I have talked about it for a while. Maybe next time I’ll try to come when it’s not so hot...”

“At the moment I’m preparing for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August and working on new material for that, but, don’t worry, I’ll leave that at home and stick to the greatest hits, if you like.”

The Fringe is the ultimate destination for comedians, and a platform for hundreds of comics to perform every year and try to reach the next level in their career, but whatever happens, Hayward, who is currently on tour with Sarah Millican in the UK, says the month-long trip is worth it.

“It’s a great experience, you get a chance to catch up with fellow comedians that you maybe see for a few minutes here and there throughout the year. I find it forces me to write more stuff and come away having written loads of new material.”

So then, back to that supposed dark side, if it’s not “dark”, what is it?

“It’s observational comedy mainly, stories about my life and what happens in it. But whereas Sarah [Millican] might make people feel all warm inside, that’s not quite me.”

You know what? We’re fine with that.  
Dhs150. Wed July 18, 8pm. Park Rotana Abu Dhabi, Khalifa Park area,

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