Interview With…Kerry Fitzgerald

The writer and actor spoke to Emma Clarendon about bringing Come Hygge Yourself to the King’s Head Theatre as part of the Playmill festival.

Can you tell me a little bit more about what Come Hygge Yourself is about? It’s a spoof seminar about happiness. Both Lise and I were interested with the statistics thatcame out earlier this year with the information about the rise in the use of antidepressants. We
also just felt a saturation in the media, this constant negativity, so we wanted to make a show about happiness, and then through saying that we started researching happiness. Where theidea of always needing to be happy actually comes from and who benefits? Then we looked at
Hygge, which is a massive trend from Denmark, where Lise is from, and we wanted to look at how we’ve sold that in the west and what we’re doing with that now, and whether this happiness
is authentic.
The show itself looks at the history of happiness, and this happiness imperative that we search for. It looks at Hygge and how we’ve implemented that and taken that from Denmark, and what
we’re doing with it, which is sticking it on a pair of boxes and selling it for 40 quid. We look at chemical ways to make you happy – actual researched ways you can release dopamine and serotonine in the brain. Whilst doing those quite serious things, we’re running it like a seminar in
a workplace that we all work in, so we know the audience, we’ve made a fake relationship with you all. We’ve gotten the bosses to let us do this seminar, and actually we sort of enjoy being in charge and doing the seminar more than looking after the people in the seminar, so the whole
thing kind of unravels, we’re very ridiculous, we do things that we enjoy doing that takes some things too far. So we got this foundation of actual research, and making the audience happy chemically and literally and learning about happiness, and then we take that to an absurd place.

How did the idea for the show come about? Lise and I spoke in January, we’re both mothers, I had postnatal depression and we’re
interested in happiness and we wanted to explore that in a show.
We want people to leave having learnt ways to maybe release pressure off themselves by doing the exercises – which will make them happier – or knowing the statistics about how much money people earn in the advertising industry earn by pushing happiness, thereby taking away some of this pressure to always need to be happy and present this happiness – like on instagram.

What do you want people to take away from Come Hygge Yourself? I want the audience to come away with actual tools to make themselves happier. I want them to have enjoyed themselves for that hour, because we live in a very stressful and emotional political environment. I want to bring them real joy, but I also want to take away the pressure that you need to constantly feel that – that’s a big part of the show, that actually that’s not the
way humans are made, and that’s ok. It’s ok to have a sad day, it’s ok to cry for no reason, but with the advertising industry, we have, and social media, with instagram, if you feel those things, you feel inherently like you’re broken, that you can’t have those negative emotions, so we want
to take that away.We want to say that’s fine, it’s ok to have a bad day. And if you want to feel happier in a short term fix way, yeah, we can give you these exercises and they’ll be fun, but let’s just look at the
whole thing, so that maybe you can feel a bit lighter in your soul.

How are you feeling about bringing the show to London? I’m very excited. We just did it in Copenhagen. The audiences there were really lovely, they really enjoyed what we were doing, and they really go it, so that was quite fun. Because we mix so many different genres; we have a bit of clowning, we have some storytelling, we have some actual research that we’re presenting, it’s not a very clear-cut show to market – which is really difficult – but maybe people when they come along don’t know what to
expect. It took them a minute or two, but then they were totally in. They were doing the exercises with us, they were sharing with us, and it was great fun, so I’m really looking forward to bringing it to the King’s Head and being part of the Playmill festival. Getting to know the other
companies and show Londoners our show. It’s the first time we’ve done this show in England, so it will be really interesting to see how the audiences differ. It’s quite a big space as well, it’s the biggest place we’ve played in, it’s got a 120 seats, so it will be interesting to see how this
intimate feeling we always create in our comedy lectures and spoof seminars – normally we might have 50-60 seats, this is double the size – so it will be interesting to expand this intimacy and see whether we can keep including everybody. This is something we do with our shows, we
have shared lighting with the audience and we want to get to know you in the show, not in a way that’s uncomfortable, if you don’t want to get to know us, that’s fine you can sit and watch, but we give everybody the opportunity to share. It’ll be interesting bringing that to the King’s Head
and see what happens. It’s the most fun about this show, you can’t really know – because every audience is different – you can’t know how it’s gonna go, so that’s exciting.

What can audiences expect from the production? They can expect to laugh, they can expect absurdity, they can expect to learn things that are
generally interesting, they can expect to feel happy, they can expect to be given a space to share feelings if they’d like, but most of all to feel joy, I think.

How would you describe the show? It’s fun, it’s silly and it’s incredibly interesting. I’ve genuinely learnt so much from researching
this show, and I can’t wait to share it with everyone who comes to see it.

By Emma Clarendon

Come Hygge Yourself will play as part of the Playmill Festival at the king’s Head Theatre on the 10th July.

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