Interviews: Lindsey Santoro and Louise Young

Working class debutants Lindsey Santoro and Louise Young discuss the influence of their home cities on their comedy

feature (edinburgh) | Read in About 4 minutes
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Lindsey Santoro and Louise Young
Photo by Jiksaw
Published 27 Jul 2023

"I remember thinking that Edinburgh was for 'poshos'," says Lindsey Santoro. "Poshos with too much money and too much free time." 

Lindsey Santoro is a working class comedian from south Birmingham, bringing her first hour – Pink Tinge – to the Fringe. She's definitely not a posho – stand-up competes with her other work and family time. "I've still got a day job, because without it I'd die." She says: "I work for the NHS and they're just wonderful, wonderful people. I don't work in urgent care – I’m not accidentally going to kill someone if I don't send an email on time. I work Monday to Wednesday and then Thursday to Saturday I gig. And then at some point I have to look after my child!" 

Edinburgh would’ve remained a castle in the sky for Santoro – "No bloody chance!" – if it hadn’t been for Sian Davies’s Best in Class, which platforms working class comedians at the Fringe, which Santoro expresses gratitude for. "With Best in Class, I saw that it could work in different ways and there’s different ways to access the Fringe. It’s definitely giving me a foot up."

More than a foot, also a helping hand. After Best in Class won the Comedy Awards’ Panel Prize last year, Davies turned the £10,000 prize into £500 bursaries, which Santoro was successful applying for. "That £500 has gone straight towards my accommodation," she says. "What I find with people like me and Sian, is that you want to spread money to people who need it." She adds, joking: "Which is why I think we’ll always be poor!"

Also bringing her first stand-up hour – Feral – to Edinburgh is Louise Young, a working class Geordie with a pile of washing behind her, rescued from a storm moments before our video call. How is she turning Edinburgh into an affordable reality?

"Well I don't know how I'm going to do it," says Young candidly, "I had a panic attack about it last night!"

A lack of funds has been a mixed blessing for Young’s stand-up career. "I initially started in London, but only for about 10 gigs, then I moved back home to Newcastle because I had no money. I remember thinking it’d be rubbish trying to start comedy in Newcastle because there wouldn’t be the number of gigs that there are in London."

Yet her hometown gave her the foundation she needed. "It was the best thing ever. You see, it’s not saturated. There’s a lot more attention put on you when you’re new. The Stand Comedy Club got behind us. You think you’re going to get seen in London – but if you’re new it’s better to be seen in a smaller city by people who can actually give you paid work."

It's not only in practical terms that Young has found her appreciation of Newcastle growing. "I do think Newcastle has a sense of humour that's kind of like cheek, and it is friendly, but there's also a gallows humour. My nana brought me up and she was from extreme poverty. That leaves an impression – indelible things get passed down culturally and emotionally. It's a harsh sense of humour I associate with Newcastle – a brutality, and that's more like how I think about humour."

It's a humour that sounds a perfect fit for Young's show: "It's about things being a little bit difficult, chaotic and dysfunctional. It's about class and about me being half-Turkish and things about me being gay. It's about how things get harder and you can go on a downward spiral. That sounds depressing, it's not! It's about life being a bit feral."

Santoro is similarly proud of how Birmingham has shaped her comedy: "The thing is that Birmingham is that it's so diverse. I didn't realise how much it affected me. You can walk down the street and walk into a completely different culture and nobody who lives in Birmingham bats an eyelid. When I go to gigs in places that are more rural, I think, 'God, it's all the same here isn't it?' All the different people and experiences have influenced me. It's a rich tapestry."