Samantha Baines is one of comedy’s rising stars, boasting sell out runs across the Edinburgh Fringe for multiple years. Alongside her stand up career Samantha has made her way onto screen most recently appearing in the critically acclaimed series The Crown as well as Call the Midwife. Samantha is also a regular on BBC Radio 4 and has written for The Guardian and the Huffington Post. Her witty scientific humour combined with a killer fashion sense and infectious laugh makes Samantha Baines one to watch on the comedy circuit. Her latest show, 1 Woman,a High-Flyer and a Flat Bottom combines Samantha’s love of both science and comedy, it is currently showing at The Pleasance as part of the Edinburgh Fringe and we here at culturised caught up with her to find out more about it.
1 Woman, a High-Flyer and a Flat Bottom is set to explore the lost women of science. Do you have a favourite? Is there someone we should all have heard of?
I have discovered three amazing lost women of science for this show and I think I have a different favourite each day. Today my favourite is Lilian Bland who was the world’s first female aviation engineer. Marie Curie is probably a favourite famous female scientist for many – she discovered the elements Polonium (element 88) and Radium (element 84) in the 1900s. Of course Bruce Willis was famously searching for the fifth element. Turns out the fifth element is not a semi-naked girl with orange hair – it’s Boron.
Many of your recent shows have science at the core. Are you a bit of a scientist? How have you found the scientific as a base for comic inspiration?
I love science but I am not a scientist, I guess I am just a science enthusiast. People always ask me if they will understand the show if they don’t know much about science and the answer is yes, they will definitely understand the show as I don’t know much about science either! Again, I am less scientist and more an enthusiastic investigator of science. Science is a huge comic inspiration for me as I find it so fascinating so I love researching and finding out new facts and the terminology is wonderful. I did an open university course on black holes last year but I didn’t finish it as I was so distracted by writing jokes whilst I was reading the study material…
Have you found it difficult to market a show about science?
Actually no. I have discovered that there are lots of science enthusiasts out there and also scientists themselves have a great sense of humour. I have a lot of scientists and PhD students come along to my shows which is brilliant – my audiences are intimidatingly intelligent.
Another of your many talents includes writing poetry, we’d like to hear more about your recent published anthology, Poentry. Does this influence your work at all? Do you ever incorporate poetry into your comedy gigs?
Yes I have a book now available online via Amazon and Waterstones. Poentry is a collection of silly po-faced entries with comedy lines, rhymes and “really did that rhyme” times. My poems are based on my life, work, politics and of course my love of science; there are around 100 poems in the collection including three that feature in 1 Woman, a High-Flyer and a Flat Bottom. I don’t know what initially drew me to poetry, it might be because I love puns (I am a UK Pun Championship Finalist 2017) and poems feel like the ideal place for those and also, rhyming poetry feels like rapping for middle class people, which I like.
You have featured in series such as The Crown and Call the Midwife, are you a fan of period dramas? Are they an interesting sideline to your comedic ventures?
I have had many period dramas: once I needed a tampon at the Theatre Awards and I had to ask really important/famous women in the loo if I could borrow one – it was actually a great way to make friends. I also love period dramas on TV and it has been such a pleasure to be able to be a part of some of them, it’s a lot of fun dressing up in the costumes and my Mum was very excited when I was in Call the Midwife as it’s her favourite. I am very lucky to be able to do a variety of different things and different genres and I love it because it keeps me on my toes.
What is your favourite part about performing live comedy? Any great Fringe stories?
There is nothing like being in front of a live audience, each audience has their own quirks and it’s fun to build a rapport and a relationship with each crowd and that relationship feels different each day. Comedy fans are a wonderful and bizarre bunch. I used to perform with a sketch group and a man brought some pants for us to sign after the show! That was definitely a career highlight and thank god they were clean pants. Last year at the Fringe I had a teenage boy in the front row who sat with his hand down his trousers for the whole show, even after I questioned him on it. And also last year I was upstaged by a moth during one show and I did a gig in London once where a mouse kept running across the stage and we became a sort of double act: Sam and Jerry.
Following your run up in Edinburgh what is next for you?
I am in a couple of episodes of Silent Witness in the new year and I am working on some scripts for a few new projects. I love all the radio work I have been doing this year so I am hoping to do a bit more of that and I will be making more videos with Stylist Magazine too, bringing comedy to women’s issues.
Finally, what is your coolest scientific fact?
A quark is a building block of particles not just a posh duck!