ED2022 Comedy ED2022 Interviews ED2022 Preview Edition

Julia Masli: CHOOSH!

By | Published on Friday 8 July 2022

Anyone who has been to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe will know that one of its greatest delights is the sheer variety of culture on offer, but those whose edfringe experience is limited could be forgiven for thinking that it’s all stand-up comedy and productions of Shakespeare. And, thus far this year, we have been speaking to quite a few people whose acts and shows would actually fall into those categories. 

So, although we’re sticking with comedy for this one, it’s not stand-up, but that somewhat rarer breed of edfringe entertainer: the clown. And it’s someone with a really good story to tell via their medium. 

Acclaimed Estonia-born clown Julia Masli, visiting teacher at the Ecole Philippe Gaulier theatre school in France, heads to Assembly Roxy this summer with ‘CHOOSH!’, a fab sounding show about a migrant clown who leaves an Eastern European village and travels to the United States. 

I spoke to Julia to find out more. 

CM: Can you start by telling us a bit about the genre and nature of ‘CHOOSH!’ – what sort of show should audiences expect? 
JM: ‘CHOOSH!’ is a clown show tracing a migrant’s journey through absurd routines and surreal physical comedy. Be prepared for serious belly laughs! And expect snow on your head!

CM: Does the show tell a story? What inspired this subject matter?
JM: Well, a hungry clown from an Eastern European village travels to America for a hot dog.

It’s a clown homage to migration. I’m originally from Estonia but moved to the UK. I’ve often felt like a bit of an idiot here in the UK, trying my best to fit in and imitate the British people so they would accept me and be friends with me. So this felt like a good starting point for a clown show. 

The story is also inspired by my Grandfather, Grisha. He left a life of poverty in his village in Belarus aged sixteen and travelled to Estonia to find work. The dramaturg I work with, Annie Siddons, suggested we should travel to America in the show instead, to make the story relatable to the audiences here. 

CM: Can you explain the title? Why did you give it this name?  
JM: The title ‘CHOOSH!’ means bullshit. I gave it this title because it’s a clown show that is full of delightful nonsense and complete bullshit that the idiot/clown thinks is genius. It’s also the bullshit facing migrants and women that occasionally seeps through the piece. But the show is carried by the great optimism of a joyous idiot!

CM: You’ve performed at the Fringe before, of course. What keeps you coming back to it? 
JM: Yes! With our show ‘LEGS’ in 2019, an hour long show about legs. My legs are the ones keeping me coming back! They are walking me in that direction and I can’t stop them! HEEEEELP!

CM: What’s your favourite thing, and your least favourite thing, about performing at the Festival? 
JM: My favourite thing is being around some of the funniest people, like The Duncan Brothers, who can make me pee my trousers with laughter. 

My least favourite thing is carrying around 30kg of props, and wishing I could write jokes and do stand-up. 

CM: Other than performing, what are you most looking forward to about being in Edinburgh this August? 
JM: To climb Arthur’s Seat and celebrate that live shows are back! 

CM: What are you doing right now, ahead of the kick off of the Fringe? What are you currently working on? 
JM: I’m now in France, teaching movement at Ecole Philippe Gaulier during ‘Le Jeu’ – which is a summer course. ‘Le Jeu’ means Game in French. I also sit in on Philippe Gaulier’s classes while I’m here and am reminded of the standard required to be on the stage. So it’s a good wake up call to not get complacent.

I’m also teaching a clown workshop for the amazing organisation Women For Refugee Women at Southbank Centre. And I’m also previewing ‘CHOOSH!’ around town.

CM: Let’s rewind a bit now and talk about the past? Did you always want to be a performer? How did your career begin? 
JM: Yes! It began the day I walked for the first time and learnt to say the word ‘Legs’. 

CM: What have been the highlights of your career thus far? 
JM: Highlights have been doing our show ‘Legs’ – a show about legs – with The Duncan Brothers at Soho Theatre, and performing its sequel ‘Logs’, a show about logs. 

Especially good was rehearsing in the forest, looking for logs for our show about logs there, and speaking to trees as research and thinking “this is our job today”! 

CM: What aims and ambitions do you have for the future? 
JM: To go to Japan with a show. I really want to go to Japan. Please contact me if you know how I can do this!

CM: What’s coming up next for you after this?
JM: Hopefully some quality family and friends time. Work related: an exciting circus project in Finland, touring ‘CHOOSH!’, teaching at Gaulier, hosting my bouffon night ‘Comedy From Hell’, and teaching clown workshops. Acting and more clowning. 

Julia Masli performed ‘CHOOSH!’ at Assembly Roxy at Edinburgh Festival 2022.

LINKS: www.juliamasli.com | twitter.com/juliamasli