Esther Manito is a British-Lebanese comedian. Since reaching the regional finals of the Funny Women Awards in 2017 – a mere year after taking up comedy – she’s performed two shows at the Edinburgh Fringe, ‘Crusade‘ in 2019, and ‘#NotAllMen‘ in 2022, which also won Best Show at Leicester Comedy Festival. She’s appeared on Live at the Apollo and was the first female comedian to perform at Dubai Opera House. She is currently touring her new show ‘Hell Hath No Fury’ which will feature dates at The Stand Comedy Club in Edinburgh and Glasgow. We speak to Esther about the show, finding the humour in the little things that annoy you, and the power of negative thinking.
Can you tell us about ‘Hell Hath No Fury’?
It’s about being a 40-year-old Mum, all those things that drive you insane as a woman, and why anger should be embraced and accepted instead of pushed down. In my show there are so many things I talk about driving me crazy: cushions, the night tube, perimenopause, and coat racks. The bits I enjoyed most in my other shows was ranting about the smaller things in everyday life which reflect bigger Imbalances in society – so I’m doing even more of that.
How has the tour been going so far, and how has the experience compared to performing a show at the fringe?
It’s way less intense than the fringe, financially and emotionally. The fringe is a month navigating performing, kids, anxiety over ticket sales and reviews, combined with lots of intense highs! The tour is bouts of nerves and anxiety pre-each show, but then you go home after each performance and your kids don’t give a toss about your narcissism so you are grounded very quickly, as they give you a four hour TED Talk about Minecraft.
Your show deals with your entirely justified fury at the state of the World. How do you go about finding the funny in the anger?
Think about the daily things that wind you up, the things that seem so small when you say it out loud, but pick apart why they annoy you, it’s actually very funny. Why can’t I ever find my keys! Why can I ever remember stuff? Why is camping a holiday?? And why for the love of god is my husband called “good” for looking after his own kids when I work?
How do you write a show? Do you start with a central theme first, or do you find connective tissue between the jokes later in the process?
My first show was all the jokes I had written for club sets put into an hour. My following two shows are routines I’ve written related to a theme. That theme will be the connective tissue between jokes.
At what point after you started in comedy did you realise that you were now a professional comedian?
Whilst sobbing to a doctor about my anxiety and they asked me what I did for a living… and through snot I blubbered. ‘I’m a comedian’.
Are there any particular achievements in your career that you’re most proud of?
Live at the Apollo as that was such a wonderful experience. Being the first female comic at the Dubai Opera House was another. But I think the biggest achievement will be (I hope) if I’ve set a good enough role model for my kids and they just really go for “it” in life. Whatever “it” is I don’t care but I hope they don’t let fear, judgement, anxiety, self doubt, stereotypes or prejudice hold them back. Give it all and fuck the haters!
What are your hopes for the tour, and what’s next for Esther Manito? Are there any ambitions you’d like to fulfil?
I refuse to have goals as they stress me out. I’m always assuming the worst and a real negative thinker. It’s my comfort zone to be negative and the few times I’ve tried to be positive I have fallen over everything, lost everything and got my period a week early mid show in a full room. So it don’t work for me 🙂 As for the tour it’s already exceeded all my expectations and I’m so so so flattered that I have performed to full rooms of lush people.
We like to pay it forward here at the Wee Review. Can you tell us about a comedian or act you feel deserves more attention than they currently receive?
So so so many! My god there are so many! Can I say me? I deserve more attention!!! No, all my tour support have been so amazing and a joy to watch and the audiences loved them – Andy Gleeks, Joe Parsons, Kate Martin, Louise Atkinson, Sam Lake, and Will Robbins.