The winner of Vault Festival’s After Dark Award, Séayoncé talks to long-time pal, Emma Bentley about the stress of being cooped up during the Coronavirus pandemic and the uncertainty of his once busy future.
You might know Dan Wye as the late, great ghost whisperer, Séayoncé. If you haven’t a clue what I’m on about but know you like filthy, eye-wateringly funny drag with silly magic and sultry songs, look her up immediately. Wye is the writer and performer of Edinburgh Fringe hits, Séayoncé (2018), Séayoncé Déjà Voodoo (2019) and is the recent winner of the Vault Festival’s After Dark Award, for his, Comedy Vault. He’s been a funny, wonderful friend of mine since we were both teenagers and my gosh, am I proud of what he has achieved in the last three years. I Facetimed him on Saturday night – when he had already been in isolation for 10 days – to see how he was getting on…
DW: I’m being a little avoidant, I need to start making some fucking material or something, apparently Edinburgh’s still going ahead.
EB: Yeah, I read the press release from Shona McCarthy [The Fringe Society Chief Executive]. Would you still wanna do it though?
DW: I don’t know. This year I was in place for the best I could have had; I’m with the best people, I’ve got the best PR, I’ve got a really good space, so I just don’t know. It’s a really hard one to figure out. I mean, I’ve got a long time to decide on anything, I guess. It’s like I need to have a goal because at the moment I literally have nothing, which is crazy. But also, this feels like a weird thing to be putting energy into.
EB: What, because you’re worried that it will get cancelled?
DW: Yeah, and even now I need to create new posters, but I just don’t have any money coming in. It’s weird trying to plan ahead with creative projects when all your upcoming gigs and shows are gone and sorting out your limited finances with something that potentially might not happen.
EB: Yeah and, like, how busy is Edinburgh even gonna be?
DW: This is it.
EB: Cos like, even if the summer comes and it kills it, there will still be 1. loads of people that can’t afford it and 2. loads of people who are scared about the health risks in travelling…
DW: In the emails I have been receiving, they are predicting it’s going to be a very different festival from ones you’ve experienced before.
EB: But do you feel like if you would wait a year you would lose something?
DW: I guess the question is, what will my income stream be if I wait a year? Cos it’s usually off shows and if I wait a year will I still have the place, the people, the team I’ve got? Will I still have that? But then it might be fine. If the festival is smaller and I’m with a really good group of people it could mean that I do okay.
EB: Oh, I see what you mean, yeah, because there’ll be less people, so you’ll have less competition.
DW: It feels so crazy that everything I’ve worked hard for is just… postponed. But its maybe gonna be worse than that as the landscape of the industry is going to change so much. People are thinking, “oh after three months it’s gonna be fine”, but it’s not, because there’s gonna be such an over saturation of people wanting to perform and no one will have much money, I guess. Well, people will go kind of mad, there’ll be a period where people go out and go crazy. But also who knows what the restrictions will be when it all blows over in terms of being safe? It’s like I’m questioning if I’ll even have a proper career after this, and that’s fucked!
EB: Are you talking about drag specifically?
DW: Noo not drag, like comedy. Performance! To perform we need groups, we need people to gather in spaces and the money that’s going to be drained out of everything… it’s just going to change everything, I think.
EB: So what’s you’re actual plan for now? Are you going to sign on?
DW: Yeah I’ve got a meeting on Tuesday, like a phone meeting. And then just see what I can do online. I’m gonna try and film some funny stuff.
EB: Do you feel like you can’t be funny right now?
DW: No no no, I’m the funniest I’ve ever been. I don’t think this affects my funny – it affects my libido.
DW: No but I think I’m actually a lot more stressed than I think, cos I’m avoiding a lot of things, but I’m not punishing myself for it.
DW: Because there is so much time apparently ahead of us. I’m a bit like fuck, I should be doing this and this and then I’m like no, calm down. Before this, I was feeling so overwhelmed. Like I had so many projects and so many things going on and I was just like fuck, I don’t have the time to do this.
EB: Do you think you maybe, like, willed this upon the earth?
DW: I mean, I am powerful.
EB: I think it was you, I think you were like, “oh my god I wish everything could just STOP.”
DW: Yeah it was like a real Jaqueline Wilson, Prince of Egypt, Moses type-thing, like, “I just wish everything would stop right now!” and then me just going … “Oh no, what have I done?!”
DW: I mean, I would watch it. Anyway, how are you coping?
EB: I just think all my priorities have shifted now. Like you know before this happened, I wasn’t in the same position as you, I was like where’s my career going, I feel like I’ve come to a standstill and so much of the sadness in my life was about whether I was successful or not. Now the fact that we are all in the same boat, it’s just massively taken the pressure off and all those jobs that I didn’t get, and I really wanted to do, they’re not happening anymore. So, I know I won’t have to watch anything and think, ahh damn I really wish I’d got that. I know this sounds awful! But yeah, I know I won’t be faced with everyone on social media saying “I’m doing this, I’m doing this, I’m doing this…”
DW: Maybe you wished it upon the world.
EB: Yeah maybe I did. I was like, “I’M SO SICK OF EVERYONE BEING SO SUCCESSFUL. I wish something could just ruin our industry so we’re all in the same boat!”
DW: Yeah, I mean I guess that’s a way of thinking about it. I do feel a lot less pressure. But I also feel like I’ve been dropped into the ocean and I’ve got absolutely nothing.
We move onto discuss important matters of what to eat, how to date, and to continue to make work in the upcoming (mad) months. If you want to follow Wye’s/Séayoncé’s progress you can stay tuned via Instagram @dan.wye and Twitter @DanielWye … expect jokes (and possibly nudes) to brighten your day. As Séayoncé would say, “you should come, it’s about time you came.”
If you are reading this and you would like to support Wye through the dark times ahead, please go to paypal.me/danielwye to donate.
Stay safe and stay home people. Sending much love. EB X