It is typical that when Bruce Dessau chats to Judi Love she is grabbing a well-earned break between jobs. She has just finished her regular appearance as a panellist on ITV1’s Loose Women and was enjoying a sandwich on her way to guest on Lorraine Kelly and Rosie Smith’s podcast What If? while they talk.
Love, 42, has become a household name in the last two years. She has appeared on shows including The Royal Variety Performance, Taskmaster, Strictly Come Dancing, Live at the Apollo and was crowned Masterchef Celebrity Christmas Special Champion in 2021.
And she has now found time in her diary for her eagerly awaited first national stand-up tour. Judi Love: The One Like is the perfect platform for her powerhouse personality. Love is a vital force of nature who does not hold back when it comes to telling totally relatable tales about her life. Once seen never forgotten.
Judi Love: The One Like starts comes to Cardiff’s New Theatre on April 30.
Are you looking forward to hitting the road?
I’m overwhelmed with shock and disbelief that this is really happening. I’m nervous, anxious, excited, I’m full of all those emotions. You see your favourites doing this so to be in the same situation now, I can’t wait to start.
What will you be talking about onstage?
Who I am, where I was born, being a single parent, working class, black British and then making the transition through different stages of my life. Loss, love, discovering yourself, relationships, and adult stuff lol.
You’ve become such a familiar face on TV. You must get more offers than you can fit in, how do you choose what to say yes to?
It’s about what the show brings, if it’s something I’m connected to or if I can show my personality. Somewhere where I can be my authentic self. I love to talk, for example, so Loose Women and Taskmaster you get to see me just being me!
Are there ever any nerves? You seem to throw yourself 100 per cent into everything.
Ask my manager! I get so nervous. Back in the day before a gig I couldn’t talk to anyone for a couple of days. Now I can talk on the day but half an hour before I go on, I need quiet time alone.
You were a ground breaker on Strictly, twerking on Saturday night primetime TV.
I was nervous about that because I wasn’t doing comedy, there was physical aspect. But it was such an amazing show and such a great opportunity. When I twerked, I felt my mission was completed.
How do you manage the work/life balance as a single mother with two teenagers?
I struggled with babysitting when they were younger. And now I worry for them when they have exams. But I try to put my foot down and not compromise. If a job comes up in half term and they can come along, I’ll do it but it’s a struggle to get things right and I have mum guilt thinking I should be home with them. You don’t want them to grow up and say I was never there.
You can be frank about your sex life and what it’s like to be a woman onstage. Have they heard your material?
When I was doing stand-up in clubs and couldn’t get babysitters they used to come with me so they know what I talk about. Now they are older they’ve probably heard worse when they are with their friends. But they know ‘Judi Love’ and they know ‘mummy’. I might be extreme or cheeky onstage but I’d never talk like that in my private conversations with them.
How much of ‘mummy’ is there onstage?
You see glimpses of my mummy on stage as that’s always in me. But it’s not like mummy when I’m home. When I’ve got my mum head on I’m still funny with the kids but I’m not talking to them about online dating!
You’ve talked recently about self-care. What does self-care mean to you?
It’s so important. We live in a society where we are so frightened to say no we end up on a treadmill. I love working but if we are not at our physical optimal best the blessing of being able to work can be taken out of your hands. It’s got to be done in conjunction with looking after yourself so you can be at your best to give your best. I’m going to take a break to prepare for the tour and go on a Zen retreat. Somewhere with a white, sandy beach.
How do you relax?
I try to block out weekends unless there is something important. I’m a football mum if my son has a game. Relaxation is important. I get a facial, take a walk, connect with friends not in entertainment. The other week I just got up, showered, put my house clothes on, no makeup, no wig and watched all The White Lotus. It was beautiful.
Your life must have changed so much in recent years.
I feel like I do need to take time out and reflect but I’m so in the mode of ‘go go go’ that if I did stop, I’d become so emotional. I’m doing what I dreamt of as a child and it’s not like I’m an entertainment child. I went to school, college, I had depression, lost parents, and went through a lot and then somehow, I’m doing what I used to dream of doing, which I thought was impossible.
You previously worked in social care. Did your job help you at all as an entertainer?
I’ve worked with some of the most deprived people. It’s easy to see someone and judge them and think you’d never end up like that but doing social care you get to see how people end up in certain scenarios. It gives you empathy and understanding how someone’s life can change so drastically. When I’m tired from doing three jobs a day it’s not trauma. I’ve worked with people in crisis and trauma and it’s not that.
There were hard times though in your early comedy years.
I moved to south London from east London when my children were young, and I left everything behind. We were in a house with nothing, just mattresses and a cooker. I had to get work quickly, so I found a zero-hour job assessing parents. I remember going on a TV discussion programme early in the morning then going to work and they were going ‘didn’t we just see you on TV?’. I was doing TV but in the evening my emergency electricity would run out. There’s always more to the story, it’s not all glamour.
You once said laughter is healing. Is that still your philosophy?
When you think about all the adversity people go through laughter is what connects us. We can all laugh together. People say if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry, so let’s keep laughing!
- For ticket availability visit Cardiff New Theatre’s website