Arielle Dundas is an American comedian who lives in Amsterdam. Her comedy mixes the personal and philosophical. Vulva Cupcake is her second Edinburgh Fringe hour. We spoke to her about her new show, living in Amsterdam, and her comedy heroes.
Vulva Cupcake is quite an attention-grabbing title. Could you tell us a little bit about the show, and why we should come and see it?
Vulva Cupcake is a meditation on sex, politics, and love and an exploration of how the three interact. But, also, you know, funny.
Plus coming to the show is the only way you can find out the origin behind the title.
Can you tell us a bit about the writing process for the show? What were your main inspirations?
I “write” from stage. I think something’s funny and I talk about it in front of people, until it is. Eventually, I will write it out long hand—like, with a pen and everything— and then never look at it again. I feel like this burns it into my memory. This may or may not be because of a study I once read that was sponsored by the pen industry.
This year I was particularly interested in how politics is personal and vice versa. I decided to create a show around that theme and wove together a show from the funniest material I had. There was also an incident with some vulva cupcakes. Can’t forget that.
You’re based in Amsterdam. What bearing has that had on your comedy?
Not only am I based in Amsterdam, I am an American who grew up in the Netherlands. While I discuss this less explicitly than in my first Fringe Show (Arielle Dundas: Moppet of Chaos), my unique upbringing definitely allows me to see the world in a way no one else can.
Amsterdam is also a great city for English comedy and it’s getting better all the time. If you’re ever in town, try to squeeze in a show between the Anne Frank House and weed.
Who are your comedy heroes?
My taste is very American and sometimes pretty obscure. But here is an incomplete list: Tom Scharpling, Julie Klausner, Tig Notaro, Paul F Tompkins, Lauren Lapkus, Monty Python, Jerry Seinfeld, Bob Newhart, Joan Rivers, Mitchell and Webb, Ronna and Beverly, Will Ferrell, Maria Bamford, Mindy Kaling, and Jen Kirkman.
What are the best and worst aspects of the Fringe?
The worst aspect of the Fringe is an easy one for me to answer: flyering. While I have no problem standing in front of a group of strangers discussing the most intimate and vulnerable moments of my life, I am terrified of talking to a single stranger one on one. If I need to ask someone in a shop for help, I will have nightmares for weeks. Flyering is like asking hundreds of people in a shop for help, but they aren’t paid to help.
The best of the Fringe is a little harder to pin down. I love the chance to spend at least an hour every day making people laugh. I love seeing so many amazing shows a day and getting the chance to meet the people responsible for creating them. And I’m in love with the food trucks that are open until 4 am.
What other shows are you looking forward to seeing at the Fringe?
Hot Brown Honey: This provocative burlesque show was so much fun last year that I went twice. I can’t wait to fight the power again this year.
The Craig Ferguson Show: He was my mother’s celebrity crush for years. She’s since dumped him for Dan Stevens, but I still have fond memories of him. His observation from his first Fringe has always stuck with me: “I was then, and remain now, bewildered by how funny people will find material once newspapers have given them permission to laugh at it.” (Hint, hint)
Andy Daly: Monsters Take Your Questions: I’ve loved his work on podcasts like Comedy Bang Bang for a long time. I was super excited to realize I could see him perform in person this year. (“Super excited”— could I sound any more American?)
Marjolein Robertson: Relations: Marjolein may be a friend, but I would be excited to see her show if we weren’t bosom buddies. The videos she creates about living in Shetland have made her famous among my friends.