Manchester Actor and Comedian Jenny May Morgan talks to Quays Life about her comedy alter-ego, self-published erotic novelist, Pamela DeMenthe.
Who is Pamela DeMenthe and how did you create her?
Pamela is a self-published erotic fiction author with delusions of grandeur, very little literary ability and a lot of pent up sexual frustration. I created her four years ago when I was writing and performing sketch comedy in Manchester. I was involved with a few scratch nights where you could perform new writing and material with a supportive crowd and there were a lot of spoken word artists performing. I thought it would be funny to write some truly awful prose, but presented very earnestly. My first piece was called ‘Castration in the library: Shhhhh’. Initially I performed it as myself, but the character Pamela emerged over a few months. So, I guess she is version of me. Me with total confidence and absolutely no self-awareness. Making her an erotic fiction author seemed very natural. In the last few years since the ‘Fifty Shades series’ there has been an explosion of self-published erotic fiction authors and I felt that Pamela would definitely be cashing in on the action.
In your first show we saw Pamela DeMenthe launch her latest book ‘Sticky Digits.’ What’s next for the erotic fiction writer?
In Pamela’s eyes, Sticky Digits was a roaring success. She sold several copies and there was even talk of a movie deal with an amateur filmmaker from Shepton Mallet.
Now she needs to follow the success of Sticky Digits with a new scorcher; a time travelling prehistoric romp set in Hull: eVULVAlution. But only half way through the writing she is suffering from an acute case of writer’s block. With the book tour already booked and potential sponsor from Beverly mobility Aids showroom she is feeling the pressure.
Who inspires you?
I grew up watching a lot of comedy on television. My Dad really got my brother and I into watching programmes like The Day Today and Alan Partridge, which is where my love for the dark and surreal parody began. Comedy writer/performers, Julia Davis, Jessica Hynes, Garth Marenghi, Alan Partridge, Chris Morris have all been massively influential on my work. I wrote my dissertation on the Brass Eye paedophile special at drama school and after three months of badgering his agent, I was lucky enough to interview Chris Morris. That still remains a career highlight.
Why did you choose to create a character around erotic fiction?
Although there is some very good erotic fiction out there, the internet has made it incredibly easy for anyone to publish online. Whether this is a bad thing or not is debatable, but it does mean there is a lack of quality control. As I began performing, I found audiences quickly recognised the trope and were familiar (whether they admitted to it or not) with the genre. And with the ‘Fifty Shades’ series pushing erotic fiction into the mainstream I knew the genre was ripe for parody.
You’ve been on the scratch scene for over five years now. What challenges have you faced as a theatre maker during that time?
The producing has probably been the toughest aspect for me. Really all I want to do is write and perform but to make this a success I’ve had to produce too. In many ways it’s been good for me, to prove that I can do it, and I’ve learnt so much, but now I’m making this show with The Lowry, I’m able to focus my time on the creative stuff.
‘eVULVAlution’ has been produced as part of The Lowry’s Artist Development Programme ‘Developed With Artist’. What are the benefits of working alongside a venue like this to create new work?
I get a bespoke package of support to develop the new show. There is a team of people behind me helping and offering guidance and advice. As I’ve worked mainly on my own for the past few years it’s so great to be collaborating. Plus it’s only a short tram ride away!
eVULVAlution is at The Lowry, Salford Quays on 4 and 5 April 2019.