Jordan Gray, the first trans woman to headline the London Palladium with solo show, shares words of comfort to those entering into the second half of Edinburgh Fringe

Graham Robson August 16, 2023

Jordan Gray – the breakout comedy star of the Edinburgh Fringe 2022 – has shared her story ahead of returning to where it all began for two nights of shows at the end of this year’s Festival, offering words of encouragement to performers as the second half of the month-long festival gets underway.

The Edinburgh Fringe is often compared to a marathon and as it reaches the halfway point, now can be the time when the intensity of the month hits many performers – they have come so far but they have so far to go.

Jordan Gray was in this exact position last year when she took her (now award winning) show Is It A Bird to the Edinburgh Festival. From small sales on the first day, she quickly got rave reviews and sell-out shows, adding extra performance dates in bigger rooms. By the end of the Festival she had become the first trans woman to be nominated for the main award in the Edinburgh Comedy Awards alongside winning NextUp‘s ‘Biggest Award in Comedy’, British Comedy Guide‘s Best Performer Award in the Comedian’s Choice Awards.

Jordan Gray – Is It A Bird. Credit: Dylan Woodley

Since then, she has achieved over 20 x 5-star reviews, became the first trans woman to headline the London Palladium with her solo show, was nominated for ‘Most Outstanding Show’ at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and best comedy at the Sky Arts Southbank Awards, and was named one of the 50 funniest comedians of the 21st century by The Telegraph.

For shows doing really well this year they may have similar success to look forward to, proving that the Edinburgh Fringe really can be a place where dreams are launched into reality.

But for the shows without that trail of stars or packed houses, Jordan has some advice. In 2018 she took her first show to the Fringe and as a total unknown, was yet to write the show of her life. Her experience was quite different with low sales and only two reviews during the whole run.

“Revel in your failures, roll around in them a bit, really get that stink on you so you know what it feels like.”

Offering advice and comfort to those in a similar position this year, Jordan says: “In 2018, still fresh off The Voice (like that means anything) I booked my debut show into The Fancy Room at The Caves. The room was WAY too big for me, and no one came.

“In 2022 I took a new show to a leaky shipping container on George Square, expecting nothing, and my life changed forever.

“The difference was I’d tasted failure (it’s ‘orrible) and learned a bit of humility. Much as it’s hard to admit, I’m not the funniest person on most bills. But I am ALWAYS grateful to be there. I wouldn’t have kicked the d*** off last year’s Fringe SO HARD if I hadn’t been kicked in the d*** myself SO MANY TIMES by this job.

“Revel in your failures, roll around in them a bit, really get that stink on you so you know what it feels like – then shower off, brush your teeth (that’s not a metaphor), pop your d***-kicking boots on and hit those cobblestones. You have as many chances left as you’re willing to take, mate.”

Jordan will soon be bringing Is it a Bird back to the Fringe, for two nights only (23rd and 24th August) to celebrate the place where it all began.

For those who did not manage to catch Jordan’s sell-out show last year, tickets are available HERE