Kate-Lois Elliott on How to Belong Without Joining a Cult

Photo: Rebecca Need-Menear

British Writers’ Guild Award nominee Kate-Lois Elliott tells stories that are self-deprecating and (according to a drunk man at the Fringe) unexpectedly profound. After multiple sell-out shows across the UK, Elliott brings a preview of her debut hour to this year’s A Pinch of VAULT festival, playing on Saturday 2 March.

Kate’s family were brought up in a secretive Christian cult. In a completely unrelated set of events, one generation later, Kate never felt like she fit in anywhere: school, her home village, the local All Bar One… Now, she’s confronting her aversion to friendship cliques, trying to draw some sort of wisdom from the past (like… the olden days), and discovering that she no longer gives a damn what anyone else thinks (sort of).

Kate took time out of preparations to tell us more about about the show.

Q&A with Kate-Lois Elliott

What can you tell us about How to Belong Without Joining A Cult?

My mum’s family were born into a secretive cult and left when she was a teenager. Growing up, I didn’t know much about it but I always had this extreme aversion to groups, specifically being asked to change who I was or what I was doing to fit in. It got me into a lot of weird scrapes, including my own personal Mean Girls experience at school. The show looks at all the different kind of groups you can be in and how – in a world where we’re all scrambling for answers and divide and conquer is rife – everything can start to feel just a little bit culty.

Is it daunting to be telling your personal story in this way?

The thing that drew me to this form of comedy was watching other people tell their personal stories on stage. I have a huge amount of respect for club comics but coming from a theatre background, I value the storytelling element. I love watching someone say something that came from their brain and thinking, ‘Oh, I feel that too, I’m not weird.’

Photo: Rebecca Need-Menear

What’s it like to be performing this preview at A Pinch of VAULT?

I took my first solo show to VAULT Festival last year, which sold out – it was an amazing experience. VAULT run one of my favourite festivals; from the support you get as an artist, to the general energy of the place. I will always want to work with them and I hope the festival has a life far into the future.

Is there anything you hope audiences take away from the show?

That no matter how hard things get, it’s always better to think for yourself and be slightly unsure than to give away your freedom in exchange for security – no matter how good the perks or how charismatic and sexy the glorious leader is.

What can we expect from the show beyond the festival?

How to Belong Without Joining a Cult is coming to A Pinch of VAULT on Saturday 2nd March. I’m also taking the show to Bath Comedy Festival on April 10th and Brighton Fringe 5th and 12th May. Beyond that, more dates across the UK and beyond and, of course, Edinburgh.