As someone who is about to enter her 30s, Emily Atack knows only too well about the contemporary pressures and expectations on those in their 20s. She describes her live tour of Talk Thirty To Me as “a stand-up show for 20-somethings who are trying to get their lives together. Having a great job, finding ‘the one’, not going to the pub every night: it’s hard! I can’t really be arsed to strive for that perfection anymore. I hope the show pokes fun at all of the things we’re meant to have done by the time we are 30.”
Emily spent her 20s in the public eye, appearing in a diverse range of TV programmes such as her breakthrough role as Charlotte in The Inbetweeners, appearing in a Birds Of A Feather Christmas special, while being herself in Dancing On Ice, enjoying a co-hosting stint on This Morning and claiming the runner-up spot in 2018’s I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here!. She has also fronted her own four-part documentary series, Adulting, and co-presented ITV2’s Singletown.
Now that Emily is on the cusp of a brand new decade and further exciting challenges (she has a book out soon called Are We There Yet? and is also filming a new series of CBBC’s Almost Never), is there anything she will miss about the one that is about to disappear into the rear-view mirror? “I think not being able to say ‘I’m in my 20s’ might hurt a little bit, but I definitely won’t miss being young enough to care about what everyone thinks of me.”
Emily has already taken Talk Thirty To Me on a totally sold-out first leg, and this next stage of her tour will keep the positive message bubbling along. “It’s absolutely fine to not have every box ticked by 30. I also think we’re fed this idea that people come without flaws or imperfections (you can thank Instagram skin-smoothing apps for that). In the show, I tell stories about my life, my friends, and my relationships: girls seem to really get it, and funnily enough the lads do too as they’ve all had wives or girlfriends going on about the same things.”
Of course you can’t discuss millennials without mentioning social media. While you will see plenty of people in their 40s and 50s completely entranced by their tiny screens, heads almost permanently downwards facing, those in their 20s seem to take the biggest flak for anti-social tech-obsession. “Social media is part of the air that we breathe,” admits Emily. “I’m lucky that I was part of the last generation where I do remember life before the internet and Instagram. I do wonder how it will all unfold over the coming years. I hope that we’re entering into a more mindful stage.”
When people spoke about the first set of Talk Thirty To Me shows, the modern buzzword ‘relatable’ cropped up a lot. While that brand of comedy chimes strongly with Emily, her tastes are broad. “I think relatable-ness (is that a word?) is rooted in some of the best comedy. The idea that we say ‘oh I know someone like that’ or ‘so and so would say that’ keeps the convo going after the gig has finished. Growing up I love (and still love) Ricky Gervais, and god I love Kathy Burke. She was the whole reason why I wanted to end up in a sitcom. I also love Amy Schumer: I think the female American comics are brave and brilliant. It used to annoy me that I ended up constantly playing the tarty girl without the funny lines, although I don’t regret a single part: those roles gave me a career! But I wanted to play against type and felt like comedy could do that for me one day.”
Now that comedy has helped to catapult the talented Emily Atack into stardom, she is keen to play down any notion that might exist in people’s heads that being a celebrity means living a perfect life. Part two of Talk Thirty To Me will put such ideas firmly to bed. “A lot has happened since I first took the show on the road, and I’m really excited to tell everyone about some more hideous mistakes that I’ve made!”