Posts Tagged ‘comedy’

Today, Veronika meets Mrs Stephen Fry. Edna Constance Bathsheba Fry took Twitter – then the Net – by storm with her spicy confessions and hysterically funny diary. How does it feel to be Stephen Fry’s wife? Edna opens up about her marriage and talks about kebab, karaoke and her five, six or possibly seven children. Oh, and her diary, of course.

Good afternoon dear Edna! I’m delighted to meet you for a cup of tea and some friendly chit chat about your diary and Mr. Stephen Fry (yes, that Stephen Fry). I imagine there was a before and an after Stephen: can you tell us a little bit more about yourself, before you became “Mrs. Stephen Fry”?
Oh, there’s not much to tell. I was just your average bullfighting, gun-running, Nobel Prize-winning girl, really. Of course meeting Stephen changed all that. Now I’m more your average tea-making, dinner-cooking, wallpaper-hanging, domestic appliance-fixing, carrying-Stephen-home-from-the-pub-on-a-Friday-night kind of girl

How did you and Stephen meet?
It was just your typical ‘Boy Meets Girl’, ‘Boy Meets 12 Pints of Lager’, ‘Boy Meets Policeman’, ‘Girl Talks Policeman Out Of Arresting Boy’, ‘Girl Spends The Next 16 Years Wondering What on Earth She Could Have Been Thinking Of’ story.

You’ve been married for 16 years! What is the secret of such a long-lasting marriage?
Trust, honesty and a very short memory. And trust.

If you could describe Stephen with three words…
I’d love to, dear, but I’m afraid you’d be removed from the internet.

What sparked the idea for your diary?
I’ve always kept a diary ever since I was a mere slip of a thing. I find it oddly comforting, like a cosy blanket. With a bottle of gin in it.

The diary mentions kebabs, window-cleaning and womanizing. Your confessions differ a little from Stephen’s autobiographies. Do you mean that Fry is… a liar?
Good heavens no, dear! He’s as honest as the day is long. Provided that day is in the middle of the Siberian winter . .

That’s reassuring! Stephen wrote the foreword to your diary. How did he react to your revelations?
I don’t think he really noticed, to be honest. He was far too busy with her at number thirty eight.

Could you share a tasty bit that didn’t make it into the diary?
I have to say all my tasty bits are in the diary, dear. And Stephen’s tasteless bits . . .

Life with Stephen: what is your best memory so far? And the worst?
I don’t think there is a worst memory. They’re mostly equally dreadful, to be honest. As for the best? Well, there was that time he said ‘I love you’ in front of an entire restaurant full of people. He said it to his Chicken Madras, but it’s the thought that counts.

Very nice, indeed. Oh, there’s a question from die-hard fan Roxy: what makes your husband happy?
Hello, Roxy, dear. What a delightful name! I imagine you to be a fighter pilot or possibly a pole dancer. As for what makes Stephen happy – need you ask? Me, of course! Well, on a Sunday morning at any rate. The rest of the week I leave it to the kebabs, lager and karaoke.

Let’s talk about your family, now. Do your five, six or possibly seven children want to be like their Dad?
Sadly yes, dear. Apart from Hugh Junior, unfortunately. Even little Brangelina’s growing more like her father every day. I’ve tried the school psychologist and the school exorcist but it seems nothing can be done.

The Web buzzes with rumors. According to those, Mrs. Stephen Fry “is a fake”. Some people suspect Mr. Fry himself to have originated “the hoax”. Your reaction?
Ridiculous, dear! I mean, do I look like a fake to you? The very idea!

Are you planning another diary? What about your plans?
I always keep a diary, dear. I only hope my current one doesn’t fall into the hands of some unscrupulous publisher like the last one did. As for my life plans, I can’t really say, dear. I did have one dream but then I discovered that Stephen wasn’t insured.

And, finally, my favourite question: imagine you found £100 in your purse (or in Stephen’s pocket). How will you use that money?
If I found £100 in Stephen’s pocket, I’d put it straight back in my purse where he got it from, dear! Then, perhaps, I’d splash it all on a pampering day at Widdecombe’s Beauty Parlour. And possibly a nice bottle of Blue Nun.

“My Favurite…”

My Idol: That would have to be Stephen, dear. Oh, I’m sorry. I thought you said idle.
Author & Book: I’ve always been terribly fond of that George Eliot. He really seems to understand women. My favourite book is probably The Cat in the Hat – it keeps Stephen amused for hours while I get on with the housework.
Movie & TV show: I’ve always been terribly fond of ‘Brief Encounter’, dear. Two people thrown together by circumstance only to be thwarted by society and their own moral decency. It makes me wonder what might have been . . Food: Well, I am a bit of a domestic goddess as you know, dear, so that would have to be my speciality, Spam Rumpy Pumpy – an intensely satisfying dish, I assure you.
City: It has to be Paris – the city of love. It has that certain je ne sais quoi. And a big tower.
Music: I rarely get time to listen to music, what with six or seven children to look after. As a teenager, I was a big fan of Stephen’s punk band, The Kebabstards. Sadly they disbanded due to musical similarities.
Place to write: My diary, of course. (what a ridiculous question!)
Motto: If life gives you lemons, make Lemon and Bacon Cheesecake.

“Tea or Coffee?”

Tea or Coffee? Tea of course, although our local café, the Cuppa Cabana, does have a rather nice Colombian. Pablo, I think he’s called.
Saturday night. Disco & Restaurant or Home, Books & DVDs? Generally at home while Stephen’s at the disco. Unless he’s mislaid his leather trousers again.
Going on holidays. Beach or Mountains? Sadly neither. We generally go to Stephen’s favourite theme park, Lagerland.
Sleepy Little Town or Crazy Megapolis? I’m sorry, dear. I’m afraid I don’t play computer games.
Stephen Fry or John Cleese? Oh, John Cleese, dear! He’s so funny and tall. And terribly dashing. Sorry, who was the other one again?
Pick a DVD: Comedy or Weepy Drama? I do love a good three tissue movie, dear. As does Stephen, when he manages to unlock the adult channel.
Like To Travel or Hate to Move? I love to travel but Stephen hates to move. He gets nervous if he’s more than a hundred metres from the fridge.
Sport Lover or Couch Potato? If you’re talking about Stephen, both.
Leader or Follower? I like to follow. But only when Stephen’s ankle tracking bracelet isn’t working.
Shy or Easy-going? I’m very easy-going. With a husband like Stephen, I don’t have any choice.
Funny or Serious? Most of the time I’m a combination of the two, dear – Furious.

Thank you Edna, dear!

You can follow Mrs Fry on Twitter:
…and support Fry’s Gig:


Ben H. WintersBestselling author Ben H. Winters talks about mashup novels, Benjamin Franklin, Leo Tolstoy and his new novel “Android Karenina”…

Hi Ben, welcome on Veronika Asks! Could you please briefly introduce yourself?
Thanks for having me!

My name is Ben, I’m a writer who lives in Brooklyn. Although I’m about to move to Boston, slightly further up the eastern seaboard of the continental United States.

Then, if you could describe yourself with three words (No, Ben H. Winters won’t make it. I’ve already heard this one :)…
Hard-working, well-meaning writer/father.

“The Secret Life of Ms. Finkleman” will be published in September 2010. How about a little pitch?
Sure. It’s a “young adult” novel, about a nerdy, soft-spoken middle-school Band & Chorus teacher who turns out to have been a punk rock singer, a fact that makes her students go crazy.

Can you tell us more about your mashup “Android Karenina” (out in June 2010)? Why rewrite this novel (and not Romeo & Juliet, for example, although they’d both look great on the moon)?
After my last “mash-up novel”, the Jane Austen parody Sense & Sensibility & Sea Monsters, I was itching to do another one. Tolstoy is one of my favorite authors (very original, I know) and I figured why not be audacious, be brave, and try to re-imagine the greatest novel ever written?

What would Leo think? 🙂
Well, I think he’d be a little confused, at first. But there’s a lot of material here I think he’d respect, and he’d like how I’ve maintained many of the major themes of his work, including mankind’s complex and often scary relationship with technology.

You also wrote “Sense & Sensibility & Sea Monsters”. Why did you pick the mashup genre (or did it pick you)? Aren’t you afraid of the Tolstoy and Austen diehard fans?
Indeed, it picked me; the whole thing was the idea of the folks at Quirk Books, I’ve just been lucky enough to get to play in this strange world they invented. And for the most part, the fans of these writers have been delighted by the whole thing. Just like a great movie version, a parody version of a classic work is another way of re-imagining, re-engaging, and re-encountering a beloved piece of writing.

You don’t plan on parodying “War & Peace”, do you? 🙂
One massive Tolstoy parody is enough for me, thanks very much.

Is there a mashup you’d love to read but are unlikely to write yourself?
I think it would be cool to see someone do one of Shakespeare’s plays, but not only write it, actually produce it — A Midsummer Night’s Terrible, Terrible Nightmare, or something.

What about your life before you became a bestselling novelist? Do you remember the very first story you penned?
I remember writing a series of extremely silly, page-and-a-half long stories about a pig who had extraordinary adventures. This was probably in grade four or five, so around nine or ten years old. I believe his name was Piggly-Wiggly.

How did you break into the publishing world? How much time did you spend looking for an agent or publisher?
That’s a long, boring story, that probably has elements in common with the boring stories of lots of other writers: a lot of dashed hopes, a lot of support from good friends and family, a lot of trying and trying again…and then, finally, things start to line up the way you want them to. I try to be as grateful as I can about each success I have, and as realistic as I can about what the future might hold.

What is a typical working day for Ben Winters? Do you have some writing habits?
The thing I try to stick to most of all, is to work for at least three hours before I go on the internet. It is the greatest eater of time ever devised by mankind.

If you could meet any person and ask him/her one question, who and what would you ask?
Of all the figures of history, I am most fascinated by Benjamin Franklin. I’m not sure what I’d ask him — he knew everything. The man invented the rocking chair, discovered electricity, and saved our young country several times over. I might, however, ask him how to get old without losing one’s marbles in the slightest, because he seems to have done that too.

Typical situation: Pixie caught in a bottle. Shrieking. Cursing. Fighting. End of the hysteria: three wishes (yay!). What would you wish for?
* Happiness for my children.
* Enough money to live on, not so much as to screw me up irrecoverably.
* Some sort of unlimited ice cream arrangement.

You write books and work on musicals. Is there something you haven’t tried yet and would love to?There are several people I’d love to write biographies of. But the amount of time and energy required to write a really good, complete biography, is extremely daunting to me.

And here is the famous “Nothing-to-do-with-books-question”: you’ve found $100, how will you use your newly acquired money?
The right answer: Donate it to a favorite charity — I really like Doctors Without Borders.
The honest answer: Waste it on ice cream and books.

Can you tell us more about your projects? Who’s your next co-writer? Shakespeare? Wilde? Casanova?
I’m working on the sequel to The Secret Life of Ms. Finkleman (yes, even though the first one hasn’t come yet!) and preparing to start on an idea I have abut the aforementioned Benjamin Franklin.


My Idol: My dad.
Author & Book: John Irving, P.D. James, Charles Dickens (who can pick one!)
Movies & TV shows: The Blues Brothers ; The Sopranos
Food: Grilled cheese sandwiches
City: Chicago, Illinois
Music: When I write I listen to opera (as I write this, The Magic Flute); otherwise, Elvis Costello, Tom Waits, Bob Dylan
Place to write in: The roof of my apartment building
Quote or Motto: “Time is what we want most, and use worst” — William Penn
“Tea or Coffee?”
Tea or Coffee? Coffee
Saturday night. Disco & Restaurant or Home, Books & DVDs? Cinema and restaurant, if we can get a babysitter!
Going on holidays. Beach or Mountains? Beach
Sleepy Little Town or Crazy Megapolis? Currently live in crazy, would love to end up in sleepy
Pick a DVD: Comedy or Weepy Drama? Comedy
Like To Travel or Hate to Move? Like to travel
Sport Lover or Couch Potato? Couch potato, though I do like to take long walks
Leader or Follower? Leader
Shy or Easy-going? Not sure these are really opposites, but I’m definitely easy-going
Serious or Funny? Well, I wrote something called Android Karenina, so I suppose I have to go with funny!
Thank you, Ben!
You can learn more about Ben H. Winters and his books at