How Do You Solve A Problem Like Liz?: An Interview with Nerine Skinner

Having gone viral for her impersonation and parodies of Liz Truss, impressionist Nerine Skinner chats with Katerina Partolina about 'The Exorcism of Liz Truss', in the sense of both her Edinburgh Fringe debut and in terms of the UK in general.

How would you summarise your debut hour, The Exorcism of Liz Truss?

My show is all about how I started doing Liz Truss parodies and overnight went viral, and although that was brilliant, I had never actually done politics or satire or impressions before, so gained a career as an impressionist. The show is all about how I cannot seem to escape that woman no matter how much I try, because I also happen to look a bit like her. So I use various characters – political and non-political – as well as stand-up, songs to find a way of exorcising Liz from within my body so that I can work out what to do next in my career.

The show that I’m doing isn’t just political and I’m trying to spread that message a little bit as well. I’ve got lots of other non-political characters in it and try to have as much fun and be as silly as possible. Because we all need it.

What was the writing process for this show?

Loads of different ideas that I’ve had over the years that I’ve just thrown at the page. I’m a very indecisive person, so I’ve had to really think about what it is that I’m trying to say and that’s when it narrowed down, it just happened to coincide that a lot of people said to me that whatever character I play, they think that I’m still Liz Truss; I play Boris Johnson or I play a non-political character and they say, “Oh what’s Liz Truss done to her hair?” I can’t really escape her. I thought, “Right, I have to put my truth into it.” I started thinking about my upbringing, I started thinking about genuine situations that happened to me with this since this has happened, and these highs or lows of near moments of success and when it’s dropped down again. I started writing bits of stand-up, and then started to put in my characters that I know that I really would like to be in there and worked to find a way of weaving them within the show. I wanted it to be a little bit different in that there’s some stand-up, but there’s also character comedy, maybe there’s a few songs or some improvisation. Just loads of different ideas that have kept chopping and changing as I’ve gone along to find the right thing that fits. And trying to be careful to not just wedge things in for the sake of it.

What are you looking forward the most at the Fringe?

To just be up there. It’s my first solo show and to go up there and just enjoy performing and doing this thing that I’ve wanted to do for years and years and years and haven’t been able to get up there or afford it, and just to kind of go, “I’m doing this thing and having fun.” Also going and supporting other artists who are in exactly the same situation; just watching other people and being inspired by them, soaking up the lovely Edinburgh atmosphere and getting stuck on the streets because you can’t get anywhere. I’m there for it.

How did you start doing parodies of Liz Truss?

I started because my friend sent me a link to Liz Truss and said, “She’s really funny and you need to do an impression of her, and you need to do it now.” And I thought when I first saw Liz – because I didn’t know who she was – I thought that she was a comedian parodying politicians. I assumed she couldn’t be a real person and because we are of a similar casting bracket – we’ve both got blonde hair, we look a bit similar – I thought, “Oh no, someone’s doing a better job at comedy than I am, we look like each other, I’ve got no hope.” And then I realised that it was actually a real person, it was Liz, and she was a politician, so I thought, “It’s ripe for it, I had to do it.” So, it started as a joke and went too far.

In your opinion, what does Liz Truss stand for?

Growth. Growth, growth, growth, growth, and lots of cheese. That’s basically what I get from her all the time is growth, and I feel like she says it so much that maybe she doesn’t even know what that means anymore. And a lot of talk about distributing the pie, which just makes me hungry all the time when I hear that.  I just find her fascinating, because to this day she says, “Oh I went too fast too soon,” but I just find it so funny– not for the rest of society, - but in terms of a comical perspective. To hear her talk about growth or about pie and cheese, I just can’t ignore that. I have to have a little bit of that pie.

Are we as a country ready to let go of Liz Truss?

Yes and no. I think yes; everyone would say that they’re ready but at the same time – for pure comical value - I feel like everyone needs a little bit of that. But on a serious note, I think obviously change is needed; making sure that everyone is getting the best out of a situation as much as we can. But it’s funny because I thought I shouldn’t do anymore videos and I’ve tried to stop doing them, but people keep saying, “Do some more, do some more,” because it is sort of light relief. It reminds me a little bit of a clown/ Rik Mayall. But I do think that that sense of fun will be missed, but that’s not necessarily good for society.

Why does she keep showing up?

She doesn’t want to leave. I think that awareness thing. I can’t work it out; she either doesn’t think that she’s done anything wrong or she feels bad and she feels like she needs to make amends of some kind. I guess she obviously is very passionate and believes she has a lot more to say and that people need to hear that. I keep thinking she won’t come back and that’s the end and then she pops back up again. I keep saying that after her book there’ll probably won’t be any more that she’ll do, but I feel there’ll be something. And I’m here for it and I’m ready with a pen and a paper. Because if she goes, where do I go?

Liz Truss hasn’t been prime minister for almost 2 years, yet she keeps hanging around and haunting all of us in a way. How do we let go of her?

I suppose her book is a really good example, it feels like it’s endless. There’s constant material. I’ve never known someone to keep coming up with new comedy gold that we can keep mining. I think that - particularly me because I’m a comedian and I’m coming at it from that angle- but I’m fascinated by what her opinions are on the smallest things now because I find her very intriguing as a person. I feel like for as long as she keeps popping up and saying something, she’s always going to be relevant even though she’s not necessarily in the main line of politics, which she’s probably feeding off of that very well, maybe because she’s aware of that herself. But I do feel like it’s crazy that she lasted such a short amount of time but the conversation about her is still going on and I don’t know if we’ve let her go yet.

Related Listings

Nerine Skinner: The Exorcism of Liz Truss

Nerine Skinner: The Exorcism of Liz Truss

Debut hour from Funny Women Content Creator 2023 runner-up and Britain’s Got Talent Semi-Finalist. 

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