Comedian Rachel Parris shares her Danny Dyer-inspired life lessons

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Helen Bownass
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What will the comedian, 34, make of our existential questions?

What is the meaning of life?

Balance. Hitting the right balance between enjoying your life and not c*cking up the world for others, so they can enjoy theirs too.

What is the difference between right and wrong?

I don’t know what’s right but looking at the Republican senators in the US Supreme Court, I’m pretty sure I know what ‘wrong’ is.

Where is your happy place?

Pyjamas, a cup of earl grey, a crime thriller novel, a big cosy sofa and a day with nothing to do and nowhere to go. Very rare, very precious.

Nature or nurture?

Both. I am becoming more like my mum every year and that is down to nature, nurture and the increasingly attractive output of Laura Ashley.

Is it more important to be liked or respected?

Neither is important because there will always be people who like and respect absolute bellends, so if you’re liked or respected it’s no guarantee you’re on the right path. What’s more important is to worry less what people think of you and more about the things you do. Do stuff that helps, not hinders but also, in the words of Danny Dyer, don’t mug yourself off.

If you could be remembered for one thing what would it be?

“She was surprisingly good at folding very large bedsheets, very neatly, by herself.”

Who or what is your greatest love?

My boyfriend. Soz.

When did you last lie?

Yesterday, to an Uber driver, about what I do for a living. On early mornings, I avoid saying I’m a comedian because 

Does the supernatural exist?

I think it does a bit. There are some things that make me wonder – ESP (extrasensory perception) and connections across the world… I don’t think it’s magical, I think it’s just a bit of science that we haven’t yet discovered. Yeah I know…

Are you fatalistic?

No, not really, I think we make our own choices. I’ve made some real clangers, and I’d love to blame fate, but I don’t think I can.

What is your greatest fear?

A Southern Rail commuter train at 7am.

Animals or babies?

Babies, I think. I’ve never been a big pet person and I’m broody as hell.

What talent do you yearn for?

To be a good cook. I can follow a recipe but I don’t have that natural easiness with it. Luckily I live with someone who does, so it works out fine.

Do you like to be complimented?

I’m a comedian, we live for validation.

Do you have a high pain threshold?


What book do you recommend most to others?

Because of being in Austentatious, I’ve fallen into being a champion of Jane Austen. I recommend Persuasion to a lot of people, because there’s an idea that Austen is frivolous and light and in Persuasion she is poetic, passionate, even tragic. I often evangelise about Curtis Sittenfeld, Jessie Burton, Sarah Perry – hugely imaginative, intoxicating writers – and Claire McGowan, who writes a fantastic crime series set in Northern Ireland during and after the Troubles.

Rachel recommend’s Jane Austen’s Persuasion for poetry, passion and a little tragedy  

Which lesson has been the hardest to learn?

That there are some situations you cannot change, and some people you cannot help. Very hard.

What food sums up happiness?

Meringue! Meringue in all its forms!

What have you never understood?

People who need to fill silence. I bloody love silence. There’s a lot to be said for it.

What is the one thing you want to know before you die?

Where are all the debit cards I’ve ever lost?

Are you scared of dying or what happens when you die?

There’s so much I’m looking forward to so, yes I’m scared of that ending prematurely.

But in later years, who knows?

I just hope I outlive the Queen, but I don’t think that’s a guarantee, she seems to have decided to just carry on indefinitely.

Quinoa or Quavers?

QUAVERS! I love Quavers, but if I had free choice I’d go Wotsits.

Rachel Parris stars in The Mash Report on BBC Two from 26 October and is touring It’s Fun To Pretend from 1 March to 7 April 2019; she joins our line-up of inspiring women for Stylist Live on Sunday 11 November at Olympia London. See Rachel and Desiree Burch in our Sunday Papers debate, as they discuss the week’s most contentious headlines. Book tickets here

Images: Courtesy of agency 


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Helen Bownass

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