Sara Pascoe: The comedian on Darwin's marriage issues, tutting at old people and her mountain of unread books


I don't want my comedy to be at the expense of others When I started watching comedy there was a lot of negativity about women; a lot of comics were spewing out aggressive, violent and negative material. It's easy to do a routine on Kerry Katona, say, but while Jo Brand has said that you can't have victimless comedy, I restrict my victims to dead people, such as Charles Darwin – or criticising ideas.

Darwin's opinions on gender kind of made me hate him I was reading this book Sex at Dawn [about the evolution of monogamy], for my latest show. It was saying how Darwin felt that women were just chattering, coy, nurturers. There's some great stuff in his diaries where he's trying to weigh up whether to get married. One entry reads, "Pros: better than a dog; cons: less money for books." He was socially conditioned that way.

Some places desperately want you to take the piss out of them You can't go to a gig in Wales without having a lot of local [material]. They want you to tell them that that little village down the road is full of sluts. Or say that Cardiff is OK, it's the rest of the country that's full of bumpkins.

I'm shocked by the parochial mindset outside London When I go back to Essex, where I grew up, I'm still appalled by the homophobia and casual racism and aggression. I live in Lewisham, in south London, and though it might look a bit rough, it's a diverse, friendly neighbourhood.

It took me a while to learn how to deal with hecklers Once, early on, I did a try-out for the Jongleurs comedy club. There was a stag party and one of them was dressed as a bottle of ketchup. One minute into my set he stood up and began chanting the c-word at me and I had no idea how to deal with it; how can you be calling me the c-word when you're dressed up like that? It was horrific.

There's no naivety among children any more Young girls are at risk from being manipulated in a highly sexual culture – but ignoring it doesn't protect them. When that Robin Thicke song "Blurred Lines" came out, all my liberal friends said it had to be banned, but my sister – a schoolteacher and the only one who actually works with 15-year olds – said that if you ban it, you are denying that women have sexuality. Instead, we should be talking to teens about it properly.

I get a form of road rage when I'm exercising I hate how old people get in my way when I'm swimming. You're trying to get into the zone and normally, if there's someone faster than you, you get out of the way, but old people don't; they're like, you can go round me. I give a little tut when I pass them.

I buy too many books It sounds like a brag but I've got a separate room in my flat just for unread books; I don't let my read books touch my unread books. I went into Foyles the other day and I wanted to say to the sales lady, "I have three unread books in my bag, please don't sell me any more." But she did. I buy very hard science books such as Brian Greene's The Elegant Universe – it's about string theory; please read it because I need someone to explain it to me.

I like to cycle to all my London gigs Crossing over any one of London's bridges and looking down the river as the sun sets, the city looks incredible. I used to have a practical mountain bike with great suspension but after it got stolen I got this Cambridge lady's bike with a basket, which I love.

Sara Pascoe, 33, is a comedian and actress. Her new show 'Sara Pascoe Vs History' is at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, at the Assembly George Square Studios, from Wednesday to 25 August. She will also be appearing at Festival No.6 in September (

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