It is not unusual for comedians to gravitate to acting roles, as we were reminded this week that the late great Ken Dodd was once in Twelfth Night.
Kerry Godliman, who brings her stand-up show, Stick or Twist, to the Leadmill on Wednesday has managed to balance thriving careers in both comedy and drama. The difference is, she started out in acting.
“I always liked stand-up but didn’t know how to do it so I went to drama school,” she explains. “Acting has always been a passion. After I left college I did things like The Knock and The Bill but it wasn’t that fulfilling and money was tight so I thought about comedy. I did a course at City Lit, more for a laugh than anything. I didn’t expect it to become a job.
“I was technically an actor first but started doing stand-up and they were quite disparate careers for a long time. I was on the circuit for years and then Ricky Gervais cast me in Derek which was a great thing for me, playing Hannah a social worker. Although it was comedy it was a serious part.
“I also did theatre jobs over the years such as Don Juan at the Crucible in Sheffield with Tom Hollander where I was some wench or other but nobody knew I was a comedian.
“It all joined up in the end exponentially. Now it feels like it was all intended. It’s true to say that the TV acting jobs I got are as a result of my comedy connections.”
She’s been in Miranda and Sky 1 sitcom Carters Get Rich as the mother of an 11-year-old who invents an app and becomes a millionaire. A second series of ITV sitcom Bad Move in which she and Jack Dee move to the North Yorks countryside is due this year while viewers to Channel 4’s Damned with Jo Brand and Alan Davies will have seen her the other week as a head teacher.
She can currently be seen in Sky Atlantic thriller Save Me as Lennie James’s on-off girlfriend and other straight drama roles include Our Girl, playing the mother of army medic Molly Dawes.
Godliman tends to get cast as mothers and indeed her own life as mother of two young daughters was the source material for the Radio 4 comedy series, Kerry’s List, co-starring her husband, actor Ben Abell.
And, of course, it features prominently in her stand-up act as the blurb attests: “Her straight talking brand of quick wit and bewilderment will be covering more of life’s anomalies. Why is there a Buddha at the garden center? Why collect her children’s teeth? And even though she can’t stand aubergines, why is it her favorite emoji?”
It also extends to regular TV appearances on things like Live at the Apollo and Mock the Week. She admits she initially resisted going on the BBC satirical show having seen how competitive these panel shows could be, leaving women excluded.
Since then things have changed and there is usually more than one female on the show, causing a change of heart for Godliman. “So my timing was perfect. It might seem a smart strategic move but it was pure cowardice that prevented me before,” she admits. Although every inch a Londoner, she says: “I do love Sheffield, not only because of my time at the Crucible but my husband was at university here. And I’ve always known Yorkshire because my mum is from Goole and I still have family there.”
Kerry Godliman: Stick or Twist at the Leadmill Comedy Club on Wednesday, March 21.