You probably know Kerry Howard as loud, rude and narcissistic Laura from hit BBC3 comedy Him & Her. But the 32-year-old comedy actress is branching out, and her new character? Well, she’s actually kind of nice…
RadioTimes.com caught up with the star for a quick chat before her new sitcom airs on Comedy Central.
Tell us about Give Out Girls…
It’s about Marilyn who is touching 30 and she’s basically doing a job that really an 18-year-old should be doing. She’s working as a promo person giving out free stuff. It’s a gap year job – you don’t really stay in it for 10 years. She hasn’t grown up yet and she doesn’t have the responsibilities that maybe her peers have. Hence all her friends are younger than her and she’s trying to be cool – and she’s not cool at all!
Have you ever had a job like that?
I did load of silly little jobs when I first moved to London. I was an elf in Harrods for two months, I worked in a sandwich shop – banter and a sausage roll – and I did work as an extra as well. I never really had a proper job. The worst was probably being an extra because I was so close but yet so far. I had to stand by the actors and hope that by osmosis their talent would seep through me and I’d become one of the cast members!
Give Out Girls, which also stars Tracy-Ann Oberman and Diana Vickers, is a very female-led comedy…
Comedy at the moment is very male dominated – that’s kind of been a rule of thumb – so to get the opportunity to showcase that women are funny together was a joy really.
And Give Out Girls’ star Marilyn isn’t following a traditional path.
I thought Andy (played by Ben Bailey Smith) when I first initially read the script, was going to be my love interest. I was going with this sort of cliché but actually what really drew me to this story and to Marilyn was that it wasn’t really about her finding a man. It’s about her stumbling through life. Usually when it’s a female led show usually the man is going to fix it at the end and we don’t have that storyline which is really refreshing.
Do you feel like you’ve had to prove yourself more as a woman in comedy?
It is hard. I sometimes downplay it and think, ‘It’s fluke! I don’t know why I’m being funny!’ and then I think, ‘No, don’t. That’s not helpful for other women. You’ve worked really hard.’
There are some really funny young women out there. [Comedy shows and panel shows] get over saturated with the t-shirt boys, the young boys coming through. And I feel like actually they are all a bit bland, they are all a bit the same whereas female stand ups are all really quite unique and different.
Marilyn or Laura from Him & Her are both great characters, but who was more fun to play?
When Marilyn came across my desk I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is me when I was 25,’ because I was a bit lost. I was like this hapless, bumbling person who can’t get a boyfriend. I just had an affinity with her.
But then when I was playing Marilyn I did find it hard because I realised actually when you lead a show you don’t always have the pay-out jokes. You have the drive the story. I’d get a little bit jealous [of the other characters’ lines]. I think deep down I loved coming in [as Laura] and being a bit of a weirdo and leaving. It’s hard to be a leading actor.
Give Out Girls starts tonight at 9:30pm on Comedy Central