Holly Walsh, the Surrey stand-up who turned calamity into comedy
- Brian Donaldson
- 18 December 2013
The scribe of BBC Three's Dead Boss has a talent for mining material from personal injury
On his Purple Van Man tour, Sean Lock makes a passing yet withering reference to the people of Guildford and their distinct lack of joie de vivre. If you search for comedy folks who were born there, you might only be able to come up with Ford Prefect from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. On closer examination, it appears that he was in fact spawned somewhere near Betelgeuse, the second brightest star in Orion. Thank the blazes, then, for Holly Walsh, who has helped to give the Surrey town some stand-up credibility.
Curiously dubbed once the ‘Rice Krispies of comedy’ (for her snappy wit and crackling talent), Walsh left home to study art history at Cambridge and began working in small galleries across east London before getting a plum writing gig with Jo Caulfield. But her big break (literally, sadly) arrived in 2010 when she took a plunge off Worthing Pier as part of the Birdman celebrations and wound up being whisked off to hospital strapped to a spinal board with a dislocated shoulder and broken arm.
This accident (no one can turn trauma into a positive quite like comedians) led to her Hollycopter Edinburgh Fringe show a year later, which nabbed Walsh a spot on the Best Newcomer shortlist. Since then she has co-written BBC Three sitcom Dead Boss with Sharon Horgan and gained a burgeoning reputation as a rock-solid stand-up talent. As long as she keeps away from the sea, all will be well.