Looking for More Things To Do in York and beyond? Success will be found inside this story. Hutch’s List No. 106, from The Press

What is success, ponders Sara Pascoe, comedian, presenter, actress, writer and mum, at York Barbican

A COMEDIAN’S quest, a musical Nativity, winter storytelling, open studios, folk luminaries and supreme songwriters put a spring in Charles Hutchinson’s step as the season for scarves arrives

Comedy gig of the week: Sara Pascoe: Success Story, York Barbican, Thursday, 7.30pm

EXPECT “name-dropping, personal stories and anecdotes” from comedian Sara Pascoe, who will be mulling over status, celebrities, her new fancy lifestyle versus infertility, her multiple therapists and career failures in Success Story.

“What I want to explore is how do we define success and when do we define it,” she says. “Does it change with age? Do we only want things we can’t have? When we attain our goals, do we move the goal posts and become unsatisfied with what we’ve got and want something else instead?” Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Mayhem incoming: Pick Me Up Theatre’s cast for Nativity The Musical

Christmas musical of the week: Pick Me Up Theatre in Nativity! The Musical, Grand Opera House, York, November 24 to 26, 29 and 30, December 2, 7.30pm; November 26, 2.30pm; November 27, 3pm; December 1, 2pm, 7pm; December 3, 12pm, 4pm

ROBERT Readman directs York company Pick Me Up Theatre in Debbie Isitt and Nicky Ager’s humorous musical, built around St Bernadette’s School’s calamitous attempt to mountain a musical Nativity play.

Unfortunately, teacher Mr Maddens has promised that a Hollywood producer will attend the show to turn it into a film. 

Join him, his crazy teaching assistant Mr Poppy and the unruly children as they struggle to make everyone’s Christmas wish come true to the songsheet of Sparkle And Shine, Nazareth, One Night One Moment, She’s The Brightest Star and a heap of new Yuletide songs. Box office: 0844 871 7615 or atgtickts.com/york.

Ye Wretched Strangers Storybook: Tales from North America and Britain at York Mansion House

Promenade theatre event of the week: Ye Wretched Strangers Storybook, York Mansion House,  St Helen’s Square, York, tonight, 7.30pm

YE Company of Wretched Strangers, a transatlantic community theatre troupe of performers and storytellers from Yorkshire and Wisconsin, present sometimes comic, sometimes serious, always intimate and often poignant tales from Britain and North America, spanning 1799 to 1942, in the refurbished home to the Lord Mayor of York.

Laughter, smiles and a tear or two will be elicited by A Christmas Eve Ghost Story, the Creation Myth of the Ojibwe Tribe of Native Americans, A York World War Two Tale and other stories of ordinary people often forgotten by history on both sides of the Atlantic. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk/show/ye-wretched-strangers-storybook/

Wizard, photographic collage, by Claire Morris, on show at the Winter Artists Open House

Christmas shopportunity of the week: Winter Artists Open House, South Bank, York, today, 11am to 4pm

FIVE York artists are opening studios today in South Bank with an eye to the Christmas market. At Kay Dower’s Corner Gallery, at 2 Telford Terrace, her acrylic paintings and prints of corners of York, the Yorkshire coast and quirky still-life objects will be complemented by photographic collages by Claire Morris, inspired by vintage books.

Kate Buckley’s “origami meets porcelain” sculptural ceramics and Marie Murphy’s modern, geometric paintings, prints and illustrations of urban landscapes can be found at 31 Wentworth Road. Mixed-media artist Jill Tattersall’s vivid, dreamlike artworks in paints, inks and dyes on handmade paper await at the Wolf At The Door studio, 15 Cygnet Street.

Saxon: Seize a ticket for their Seize The Day date at York Barbican

Heavy metal gig of the week: Saxon, Seize The Day World Tour, Hull City Hall, Tuesday; York Barbican, Wednesday, 7.30pm

BARNSLEY heavy metal veterans Saxon bring their 23rd studio album, February’s Carpe Diem, to stage life, led as ever by Biff Byford. “Can’t wait to get out on a real tour again, it’s gonna be monumental!” he says. “See you all out there. Seize the day!” Special guests will be Diamond Head. Box office: Hull, hulltheatres.co.uk;  York, yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Jane Weaver: Purveyor of an eco-friendly hum and pop for post-new-normal times

Songwriters of the week: Mary Gauthier & Jaimee Harris, Wednesday; Jane Weaver & Jake Mehew, Thursday, both at The Crescent, York, 7.30pm

NEW Orleans roots singer-songwriter Mary Gauthier is backing up June’s release of Dark Enough To See The Stars with a rare UK tour this month. The album mourns the loss of dear friends John Prine, Nanci Griffith and David Olney, but the optimistic side to Gauthier bursts through songs of new love and personal contentment.

Her seated show is followed the next night by Jane Weaver’s standing gig. An unshakable leading light of Britain’s experimental pop music landscape, this Manchester musician released her latest album, Flock, last year with its eco-friendly hum and pop for post-new-normal times. Box office: thecrescentyork.com.

Oysterband: Bound for Pocklington Arts Centre

Rare sighting of the week: Oysterband, Pocklington Arts Centre, Thursday, 8pm

OYSTERBAND play Pocklington as the only northern gig in their 2022 autumn diary. Formed in Canterbury in 1976, the veteran six-piece still perform with the spirit a punk ceilidh band but with depth and sensitivity to their songwriting, coupled with the strength of John Jones’s voice.

Songs from the five-time BBC Folk Award winners’ March album, Read The Sky, are sure to feature. Box office: 01759 301547 or pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.

Bellowhead: Reuniting for first tour in six years

Folk event of the year: Bellowhead’s Broadside Tenth Anniversary Tour, Harrogate Convention Centre, Friday, doors 7pm for 8pm start

FOLK big band Bellowhead are reuniting for a “special one-off” tenth anniversary tour of their fourth album, 2012’s Broadside, their first Top 20 entry in the UK Official Album Charts, fuelled by such favourites as Roll The Woodpile Down and 10,000 Miles Away.

Support comes from Stroud fiddler Sam Sweeney, who served in Bellowhead from 2008 to their last tour in 2016 and is now back on the front line alongside Jon Boden and John Spiers. Tickets update: Sold out; for returns only, contact 01423 502116 or harrogatetheatre.co.uk.

Que sera, Sara, whatever will be will be for comedian, writer, TV presenter and mum Pascoe in pursuit of defining Success

“The rule should be, if the audience stops laughing, you have to try something different,” says Sara Pascoe. That’s the beauty of comedy: it’s not pressure, it’s liberating”

HOW does comedian, actor, playwright, author, TV presenter and new mum Sara Pascoe quantify success?

She seeks to provide the answer in her biggest tour yet, Success Story, whose 50 dates in two blocks from November 10 to December 3 2022 and January 26 to April 22 next year take in four Yorkshire gigs: York Barbican on November 24 (7.30pm); Sheffield Octagon, the next night; Hull City Hall, March 17, and Harrogate Royal Hall, April 21.

She is delighted to be returning to the road for the first time since her LadsLadsLads tour of 2018-2019, the one where she contemplated the positive aspects of self-imposed celibacy, exploring love, sex and doing both alone.  ­

This time, expect “name-dropping, personal stories and anecdotes,” says Sara, who will deliver jokes about status, celebrities, plus her new fancy lifestyle versus infertility, her multiple therapists and career failures.

“What I want to explore is how do we define success and when do we define it. Does it change with age? Do we only want things we can’t have? When we attain our goals, do we move the goal posts and become unsatisfied with what we’ve got and want something else instead?

“I’m 41 now and it’s a reflective time; it feels like a very adult age. Looking back on my life to when I was 14, I really wanted to be on television. That’s where I work now but is it what I imagined it to be?”

The trigger for Success Story were her experiences when undergoing IVF after a miscarriage. “When I was going through that with my partner [Australian comedian  Steen Raskopoulos], they kept talking about it in terms of success,” says Sara, who became a mum on Valentine’s Day this year at the age of 40.

“I started thinking about success, what I wanted as a child, and then thinking about what makes you happy, or if you’ve set out on a certain path that makes you unhappy, should you do something else?”

“If you’ve set out on a certain path that makes you unhappy, should you do something else?” ponders Sara Pascoe in Success Story

Deciding she wanted to be famous at 14, Dagenham-born Sara would go on to audition for Barrymore, scare Dead Or Alive’s Pete Burns and ruin Hugh Grant’s birthday, but she would also notch a decade in stand-up comedy and pen the feminist Animal: The Autobiography Of A Female Body in 2016 and her exploration of sex through the medium of evolutionary psychology, sex work, and the role of money in modern heterosexual relationships in Sex Power Money in 2019, spawning an accompanying podcast.

Her “big, bold and funny” stage adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride And Prejudice played York Theatre Royal in October 2017 and she wrote and starred in the October 2020 sitcom Out Of Her Mind on BBC Two. She has presented television shows too, hosting Comedians Giving Lectures on Dave, Guessable on Comedy Central, BBC Two’s Last Woman On Earth and this year’s BBC One series of The Great British Sewing Bee.

“What quite often happens with stand-up comedy, it doesn’t take up a lot of your time, when it’s your main job. You have a lot of time on your hands, when that main job only takes up an evening five times a week.

“You can do other things, like writing a book, where they aren’t looking for gags, whereas you can’t go half an hour without a joke in a stand-up show,” says Sara.

Hence her diversification. “It’s more about thinking, ‘oh, that would be good to have a go at that’, rather than worrying about being found out at one thing,” she reasons.

How do you judge success in comedy? “I’ve noted that some people, once they get to the top, they then plateau, and that can be hard, as not everyone can be a stadium comic,” says Sara.

She enjoys the expectation of having to come up with fresh material for every new tour, whereas the success of a band’s gig is often judged on which hits they played, which they chose to leave out.

“It’s horrible when a gig becomes dead behind the eyes,” says Sara, outlining what to avoid when seeking comedy success

“That’s the added benefit of doing comedy. I was thinking how boring it must be to always have to play songs from 20 years ago when the bands probably hate them by now, whereas comedians have to move on, just as people do when they can’t keep talking about a divorce or an old girlfriend,” says Sara, who switched from the repetition of performing theatre to the freshly squeezed juice of comedy.

“You’re quite often in a different place by the end of a tour and your set reflects that. It’s horrible when a gig becomes dead behind the eyes.

“I remember being told very early in my career how Bill Bailey always had five minutes of new material each night, working it into shape for the next tour, and it’s true that if you try out new bits after the interval, you’re never dead behind the eyes.”

Sara continues: “The rule should be, if the audience stops laughing, you have to try something different. That’s the beauty of comedy: it’s not pressure, it’s liberating. If you have three nights in a row where people aren’t connecting, throw that material in the bin. Actors can’t do that!

“At the end of a show, you don’t want a crowd going ‘yeah, that was fine’. You want them to say, ‘oh god, do you remember that bit?’. You want an audience to be engaged in what you’re saying.”

At the time of this phone interview, Sara was busy writing a book and filming the latest series of The Great British Sewing Bee. She could reveal that those shows would be broadcast on BBC One next spring; she could say rather less, however, about her next venture into print.

“We’ve not done a proper release yet,” she says. “Put something vague… ‘I’m moving into fiction’. It’s a chance to make some things up for a change.” Watch this space.

Tickets for Sara Pascoe’s Success Story tour are on sale at sarapascoe.co.uk/sara-on-tour; for York Barbican at yorkbarbican.co.uk; Harrogate, 01423 502116 or harrogatetheatre.co.uk.

Sara Pascoe to examine what it is to be successful in tour show at York Barbican

Success Story-teller: Sara Pascoe

COMEDIAN Sara Pascoe will play York Barbican on November 24 on her 50-date Success Story tour.

Further Yorkshire performances will follow at Sheffield Octagon on November 25, Hull City Hall on March 17 2023 and Harrogate Royal Hall on April 21. Tickets are on sale at sarapascoe.co.uk/sara-on-tour.

Pascoe, now 40, decided she wanted to be famous at 14 years old. Since then, she has auditioned for Barrymore, scared Dead Or Alive’s Pete Burns and ruined Hugh Grant’s birthday, but look at her now, she says.

Please look, she needs you to look. And clap. And laugh. And then clap again…on her “biggest and best tour of her life, where she will be playing in parts of the UK and Ireland that she hasn’t performed at before”.

Dagenham-born Pascoe’s last nationwide tour, LadsLadsLads, culminated in two London Palladium shows, filmed for a BBC Two  stand-up special, Sara Pascoe: LadsLadsLads.

Sara Pascoe: “Examining what it is to be successful, how we define it and how it feels when what we want eludes us” in Success Story

Since then, things have most certainly changed for Pascoe, she says. After contemplating the positive aspects of self-imposed celibacy in LadsLadsLads, Success Story finds Sara, a few years later, happily married with a beautiful baby son.

In her new show, she will examine what it is to be successful, how we define it and how it feels when what we want eludes us. Expect jokes about status, celebrities, plus Sara’s new fancy lifestyle versus infertility, her multiple therapists and career failures.

Comedian, writer and actor Pascoe wrote and starred in the BBC2 sitcom Out Of Her Mind and hosts BBC One’s The Great British Sewing Bee, BBC Two’s Last Woman On Earth, Dave’s Comedians Giving Lectures and Comedy Central’s Guessable.

She has hosted the BBC’s Festival Of Funny and Live At The Apollo’s Christmas Special and appeared as a panellist on Mock The Week, Have I Got News For You and Would I Lie To You?.  Later this year, she can be seen in the new Amazon series Katherine Ryan Backstage.

Pascoe has written and performed in the BBC Radio 4 series Modern Monkey and BBC Two’s Sara Pascoe vs Monogamy, a short inspired by her first book, Animal. Her second book, Sex Power Money, was accompanied by a podcast that garnered millions of listens and multiple award nominations.

“Please look. Sara Pascoe needs you to look. And clap. And laugh. And then clap again”