Teaching you to build your own personal brand while twirling in her experience as a ‘Third Culture Kid’, Bronwyn Sweeney lands at EdFringe next month with her stand-up-cum-hilarious-ted-talk Off-Brand. I sat down for a virtual pint with Bronwyn to get to know how an ex-advertising pro ends up in stand-up, what it’s like being “American-presenting”, what destination addiction is and what its all got to do Long Island Ice Teas.
Catch Brownyn Sweeney: Off-Brand at Pleasance Courtyard (Bunker Three) Aug 2-13 & 15-28 (15:20). Tickets are available through the EdFringe Box Office.
Jake: Hey Bronwyn! Your new show ‘Off-brand’ is all about your ‘personal brand’, tell us how the idea came about and how you found the comedy in it.
Bronwyn: In my life before comedy, I worked in advertising for over a decade. I worked on some of the biggest brands in the UK and was pretty sure I could sell anything. Then I got into comedy and couldn’t believe how hard I found it to ‘sell’ myself. I’ve always found my life to be a great source of comedy and this show is my way of finding the funny moments in a lifetime of not making sense to people.
I also think it’s funny how the word brand has become so buzzy. I hear kids talking about their brand and think how did it come to this? How are humans walking around seeing themselves as products.
Jake: You’re a self-described ‘Third Culture Kid’ – “Blackpool-born but American presenting”. How does that identity fit into the show?
Bronwyn: A Third Culture Kid is someone who’s grown up in a country (or countries) other than where they were born or where their parents are from. I only learned about the term in my mid-twenties when I met another TCK who also hesitated when I asked him where he was from. I remember how I immediately recognised him as someone like me. He had the default American accent but with the slightest hint of something else.
I used to be really self-conscious about my American accent when I moved back to the UK 13 years ago. Not that I’m embarrassed about sounding American, it’s just the accent doesn’t speak to where I’m from. I dread people asking where I’m from because it’s a long story and doesn’t make sense to people. I was born in Blackpool, I grew up in England, Greece, the US and Italy. My parents are Irish and Zimbabwean. It’s a lot. And I find people tend to try to reduce me to one place which is not me. The show and comedy has given me a platform to talk about my life unapologetically.
Jake: You’ve taken the plunge and quit your day job to do the show, even asking the audience to decide whether or not you should have done it! How are you feeling about debuting?
Bronwyn: Terrified! But comedy is something where I think you get what you put in and I’m excited to give it my all. In comedy and in life I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself to succeed and of course I want my debut to be a hit because it’s the result of so much hard work and people supporting me to get here.
I learned the expression (on TikTok, sigh) ‘destination addiction’ and realised that’s something I definitely struggle with. The minute I achieve anything I’m already thinking of the next goal. I want to make sure that for my debut I just enjoy the experience and take each day and show as it comes.
Jake: Tell us about your relationship with Edinburgh and the Fringe – have you been before and how are you feeling about it all now we are a month away?
Bronwyn: I was lucky enough to do a split-bill last year for a week which let me experience Fringe lite. I found it so exciting but also overwhelming. I remember people telling me to be prepared and I didn’t listen then I got there and was like, ohhhhhh. The highs were high, the lows were low. I remember one night doing my show to an audience of eight people including Stewart Lee and I bombed so hard. It was the longest half hour of my life and my first cry to my mum. Then the next day I crushed a late night gig and all was forgiven.
Of course the fact that Fringe is less than a month away means time travel is real. I swear I thought we were still in spring and I had loads of time to tinker. I’m excited, nervous, terrified and…horny? I don’t know. My emotions are all over the place.
Jake: Given the themes of Binge Fringe, if your show was a beverage of any kind (alcoholic, non-alcoholic – be as creative as you like!), what would it be and why?
Bronwyn: What a great question. I think my show is a Long Island Iced Tea. The show presents itself as one thing but TWIST, it might be something else? The first few sips, you’re like, ok, I think I know what this is…then DOUBLE TWIST…it’s not. The show builds in intensity as it goes on and by the end you’ll be drunk…with joy! Also, I like to think that the Long Island Iced Tea is me in a drink: random ingredients that shouldn’t work together but do.
Photo Credit: Rebecca Need-Menearpg