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Deborah Frances-White

Q&A

Deborah Frances-White hosts her live podcast, The Guilty Feminist, at Kings Place every month, and presents Global Pillage, the panel-show podcast which explores the diversity of the human race. Her BBC Radio 4 series Deborah Frances-White Rolls The Dice returns this autumn.

‘If you can sell the Bible door-to-door, a Friday night comedy audience is less scary.’

When did you know you could be a comedian?
When I did high school debating and first heard the audience laugh. I was addicted.

Did you learn tips on charismatic speaking from your time as a Jehovah’s Witness?
No, but I learned bravery and resilience. If you can sell the Bible door-to-door, a Friday night comedy audience is less scary.

Who has been your biggest inspiration?
Anyone who listens to the podcast knows Don Draper is pretty special to me. But Peggy and Joan are bigger inspirations.

What kicked off the Guilty Feminist podcast?
I was having fervent conversations about feminism and worrying I wasn’t doing it right. Because I’m a comedian it’s council zoning that those conversations had to be recorded and broadcast as a podcast.

What’s most surprised you about the gigs?
The response from the audience and their wonderful, joyful energy.

What do men say to you about it?
Most seem to really enjoy it. Many say they’ve learned a lot which is charming of them.

Was Global Pillage born out of anger?
It was born out of a desire to be the change I wanted to see in light entertainment, to paraphrase Mahatma Gandhi.

What would/does success look like to you?
I’m liking my life right now. Finding your audience is the most exciting thing that can happen to a comedian.

What do you want your swelling army of followers to be doing?
Take up more space in the world and find an even louder voice.

You speak in the corporate world: what’s the most bizarre experience you’ve had there and can you imagine yourself working in that world?
I love it because I get to speak about how women can better include themselves in maledominated environments and about how senior management can better include diverse staff so they feel like they belong. It tends to be my room when I go in, so it’s exciting to do. I can’t imagine working in a corporation full-time but being a disruptor is excellent!

What would your 16-year-old self think about you now?
She’d be horrified because she was a Jehovah’s Witness. But she’d also be secretly impressed.

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