Rosie Wilby first came to the attention of Pennyblackmusic as far back as 2000 when her then band Wilby released its-to-date only album, ‘Precious Hours’, on her own Catflap Recordings label.

While she has played one-off solo dates and reformed Wilby for occasional reunion shows since then, Rosie Wilby put her musical career, as she has described it, “on the backburner” in 2006 when she began to find a new path for herself as a comedian.

Since then she has toured and brought to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival a different stand-up show most years These have found Rosie, who is gay, asking ‘Is Monogamy Dead?’, examining ‘The Science of Sex’ and reflecting upon ‘How (not) to make it in Britpop’.

In the latter, she looked back on her time in the late 1990s writing a column, ‘Rosie’s Pop Diary’, in the now defunct music magazine, ‘Making Music’, while playing toilet venues in her new home city of London with Wilby.

Rosie Wilby’s current stand-up show, ‘Nineties Woman’, also looks back at the past. It was inspired initially after she discovered in her dad’s loft, while home in her native Lancashire for Christmas, some old issues of ‘The Matrix’, a student feminist paper, that she wrote for while she was an undergraduate in the early 1990s at York University.

Nostalgia is always good ground for a comedian, and ‘Nineties Woman’ is certainly very funny, nailing brilliantly the pretension and also more unusually the social awkwardness and confusion of student life and halls-of-residence living. It is also a very self-deprecating account of Rosie and much of her peer group’s coming out as lesbians. Rosie tells in it of a women's only disco in which the volume of the record player was almost inaudible because of fear of annoying the neighbours, the bungled vandalising of a wall with a feminist slogan, and an ill-conceived fully-clothed swim across the campus lake both to win a Student Union presidency nomination and also as a failed last-ditch attempt to impress someone with barely even scant superficial interest in her.

As comical as this is, where Wilby really wins out with ‘Nineties Woman’ is by combining it with an interactive element in which she goes looking for some of her fellow writers on ‘The Matrix’ to find out where they are now. On video, we meet Farah, who is now married to her former university professor and the author of several science fiction novels, and Zoe Lyons who like Wilby has now become a comedian. The always elusive, beautiful Kate – the subject of Rosie and so many of her friends’ lustings – also makes an appearance towards the end on email. While she took part while they were students in a mock gay marriage at a time in which civil partnerships were barely a hope, Kate sees herself as having only ever been a “transient” lesbian and, now based in Bristol, is long married with several children.

‘Nineties Woman’, for all its hilarity, is ultimately a bittersweet and both profound and emotive account of how all our pasts in our own ways makes us what we are today.


Rosie Wilby is touring with 'Nineties Woman', and will be at the Humber Literary Festival in Hull on the 14th November and the Louder Than Words Festival in Manchester on the 15th November. More information about Rosie Wilby can be found at www.rosiewilby.com.







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