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Venue:The Phoenix, 46-48A Broughton Street Edinburgh EH1 3SA
Phone: 0131 557 6944
Links: Click Here for venue details, Click here for map
Ticket Prices: Free  
Room: Phoenix Below
AUG 3-27 at 19:30 (60 min)
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A bitter sweet tale of political awakening. After losing everything (including her marbles!) Samantha followed Russell Brand onto the frontline of the revolution - a council estate in Barnet. An adventure through the Neverland of anarchy where squatters, families and activists unite in a battle to cover basic needs. There's no place like home.

“The most endearing political activist I have ever met” (Kate Copstick, The Scotsman)
“Hits a rich vein of dark humour, nicely crafted jokes with sharp timing.” (The Times)
“A compelling performer with a funny, well written set.” (One4Review)

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News and Reviews for this Show

August 25, 2017  Chortle
A lot of comedians talk the talk when it comes to demanding social change, but Samantha Pressdee walks the walk.

She’s a Bona Fide ‘badass’ anarcho-feminist activist who's been on the frontline of the fight for social housing, including being one of the squatters on the Sweets Way estate in North London, trying to stop its demolition for largely private homes. She believes it’s part of a ‘social cleansing’ to eradicate poor people from London.

Other issues swirl around this story, too, from mental health – an area in which she says she’s been stigmatised for being bipolar – to her father’s dementia and to the way a threatened benefits system gave her a level of security everyone is entitled to. Pressdee says this show is a call for a universal income – a guaranteed payment to every citizen no matter what their circumstance, no matter what work they do – but, in fact, that’s a distant second to the housing issue.

It is a topic about which she feels a raw passion, welling up with anger and upset when she tells the forceful eviction of the last tenant from Sweets Way. Her emotions do sometimes stand in the way of the comedy. Here it’s surely justified, but even in less highly-charged incidents, her story is often more interesting and polemical than funny, as she offers an insight into the world of direct activists who fight hardest as they’ve nothing to lose.

Her involvement in that world brought her into Russell Brand's orbit – giving her a USP for being one of the few women who didn’t sleep with him. He visited the Sweets Way protest, and she still drives the ‘Brandwagon’ – a campaign van branded with The Trews, Brand’s online programme.

However, the most significant figure in this story is not Brand, but Tom Palmer, who also went by the name of 'Agent Kingfisher’ – a serial protester who has been active from Occupy, to Sweets Way, to pissing on the door of MI5, and who obviously had a huge impact on Pressdee.

Again she becomes overwhelmed with raw feelings when she describes what happens to him, giving the show a powerful ending and serving as a heartfelt tribute to the kindred spirit who inspired her.

For all her ‘badass’ aspirations, Pressdee is actually just an ordinary working-class woman from the Black Country, fighting for what she believes, but also an engaging and likeable storyteller. The tale told could do with more focus and purpose – a device evoking Maslow's hierarchy of needs seems to belong in a lecture, not this show. And yes, more laughs, although the hour is not bereft of them.

But in Back 2 Basics, Pressdee offers a fascinating insight into a world many people only glimpse, and may just fire up your social conscience too. Click Here

August 16, 2017  One4Review
Samantha Pressdee: Back 2 Basics 4**** - One4Review
This show has lots of threads: it’s a lament for a friend and for society, it’s a cry for compassion, it’s an essay on radical left-wing politics, it’s excellent storytelling and very funny in lots of places. It addresses challenging issues like mental health and grief, and it makes intelligible, real-world, connections between private troubles and public issues. It’s really good and well worth seeing.

Technically, the show is excellent: Ms Pressdee is a confident orator, (even doped up on flu medicine), the stories intertwine and complement each other, each bit holding the next one in place like the blocks of an arched bridge. The visual aids add to the show and to the veracity, and there’s a good smattering of political theory and theorising.

It is comedy (despite how this review may make it sound) – and there are some bit of tits and smut (wonderful bits) – but it is also heartfelt and personal. Ms Pressdee had a nice way with the audience, and though there weren’t many of us, it never felt awkward – I even really wanted to give Ms Pressdee a hug at the end.

Laughing Horse @ 48 Below (Broughton St), 19:30

Reviewed by Laura Click Here

August 11, 2017  The Mumble
Samantha Pressdee is a cherub-cheeked enigma. A sweet lass from the Black Country who finds herself in Edinburgh via a mad stint in London as a feminist & anarchist of some repute. Passionately anti-establishment & honest to her core, she has decided to channel her political identity through the medium of stand-up comedy. Political comedy is usually satirical, concentrating on the sexual misdemeanors of our MPs & the suchlike, but Samantha’s muse is that of benefits Britain, not in the sickeningly voyeuristic reality shows that disgrace our TV screens from time to time, but that of the London squatter scene & her place in that vibrant theatre of life. In a recent interview with The Mumble, Sam elaborated upon her status as an anarcha-feminist comic;

I think confrontation can create comedy, or just enemies. Confrontation with bare breasts is very funny, but also very serious. We are serious comedians. I was actually a comedian before I became an anarcha-feminist, before I was just ‘a feminist’ but I had to separate myself from the ones who hate men and sex positive women. Anarchy is about challenging hierarchy, feminism is about challenging patriarchy. So it makes sense that feminism shouldn’t turn into a matriarchy. We need equal ground!

Samantha sets off as a comedian, full of child-like innocence in her deadpan delivery, but it is not long before we enter her main theme & the comedy is replaced by a self-therapeutic dissertation on her life as an activist. She brings us battles with bailiffs, encounters with Russell Brand & heroin addiction among other set-pieces, her words occasionally backed up by video clips on a big telly. There is also high emotion from the lass as she reaches the end of her show, & on the occasion I saw she could hardly hold back the tears. Her creation is a curious hybrid, where nostalgic reminiscences are laced with intermittent gags & savage attacks upon the patriarchy. Quite the roulette wheel, her material sometimes lands on a funny number, & sometimes not, & as the show progresses the funny numbers came up less & less. But Back to Basics is no ordinary Fringe Show, & for that I applaud her. It is definitely an experience to spend an hour with Samantha, one that transcends the often silly banality of the mainstream Fringe. Click Here

August 7, 2017 Mumble Comedy
An Interview With Samantha Pressdee
 Click Here

August 6, 2017 The Mumble
An Interview With Samantha Pressdee
...You are bringing your show Back to Basics to the Fringe this August, can you tell us about it?
Yes, it’s about waking up to how austerity has affected our front line emergency service workers and therefore the communities that rely on those services. Particularly people with disabilities or mental health issues. After losing my Dad a few years ago the life I was trying to build in London came crashing down. I saw how short staffed the hospitals were, and lost my home in London as I couldn’t afford to pay my private landlord after all the work I’d missed caring for Dad. My husband then left after I had a mental breakdown. I ended up in a police cell because there were no beds available on the NHS. I’m talking about the importance of getting our basic needs met as a society to maintain mental health. I like the idea of an unconditional basic income and think we need more social housing. Especially in London.

Can you tell us about Tom Palmer & why you connected with him so much?
Tom Palmer was a legendary activist, anarchist and spy catcher. A true revolutionary and champion of the underdog. He dropped out of goldsmiths university to become a full time member of the occupy movement. I met him at Sweets Way Resists, the campaign against social cleansing I talk about throughout the show. He was always fighting the good fight, despite being vulnerable himself. We had both been let down by the mental health system. That mutual understanding of what it’s like to lose touch with reality and rely on a broken system to save you was probably what bonded us. He was a kindred spirit. He’d asked me for money for a bus ticket days before, I didn’t have it. I had planned to have him come stay with me in the Black Country after Edinburgh, get him under my mental health team, help him apply for his disability benefits and maybe get him into supported accommodation. Tragically, I was too late. On August 22nd I found out from a Facebook post that he had passed away. I wanted to save him but didn’t have the resources, so he fell through our disintegrating welfare safety net. My show is for him, all I can do now to honour his memory is continue our shared mission.

Can you sum up your show in a single sentence?
It’s a cry for help!

... Click Here

June 20, 2017 Clare McCartneys Comedy Podcast
Samantha is a guest on Clare Harrison McCartney's Podcast
I spoke to saucy punk opet Cherry B & Political anarchic action barbie, Samantha Pressdee on my comedy podcast to promote our opening of our charity comedy night. Click Here

June 15, 2017 John Flemings Blog
“Frenzied tit grabbing in Wetherspoons” after throat-slitting at the Grouchy Club
Yesterday, performer Samantha Pressdee posted in Facebook: “Frenzied tit grabbing in Wetherspoons, all in the name of feminism, is where last night’s Grouchy Club wound up.” Click Here

June 15, 2017 Female First
Samantha Pressdee Discusses The Inspiration For Her New Show 'Back 2 Basics'
My psychologist Vivienne once said to me “Sometimes compassion is grabbing someone by the scruff of the neck and pulling them out of the fire.” I literally had to do that once with my friend Tom Palmer. He was dancing in a bonfire, wearing a dress. Tom had mental health issues. 1 in 4 people are affected and because like attracts like. I make friends with all the 1’s.

I met Tom at what was the Sweets Way Estate in Barnet, it’s now a luxurious new development unaffordable to its former residents. Activists, squatters and residents had united and taken the estate under political occupation. We were resisting social cleansing; the idea that the poor are being pushed out of London by gentrification. The campaign was lead by women, but backed up by good men. Tom was one of those men, but not everyone saw him that way. He arrived on the estate like a wrecking ball, which is exactly what we were trying to avoid. It was July 2015, we’d been in occupation since February. Tom came in with a squatting crew, The Autonomous Nation of Anarchist Libertarians, but they preferred the acronym ANAL. Known for their mischief they were very different to the core group at Sweets Way, who had a safe space policy. That was never going to wash with ANAL, most of them didn’t like washing at all.

Tom was a kindred spirit. I could see past his wild ways as I was only a year into my recovery from a mental breakdown myself. I understood his frustration at the mental health system and wanted to help him. I’d invited him to come stay with me in September 2016, when I would return from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The plan was to get him under my mental health team and help him apply for the disability benefit ‘Personal Independence Payment’. Getting my basic financial and support needs met has helped me maintain mental stability, I was hoping it would do the same for Tom.

Tragically. I was too late. Tom died on the 22nd of August last year. He was only 28. The cause of death was a heroin overdose, he’d taken the drug impulsively. Many believe he was self medicating.

Tom believed in revolution, he’s the inspiration for my show this year. Back 2 Basic’s is about creating equal ground, the firm foundation of basic security we all need in order to maintain mental health. I can’t bring him back but I can honour his life by doing my little bit to create the future that he, myself and many others imagine.

What happened to Tom, was the ultimate social cleansing. He fell through our disintegrating welfare safety net. I like the idea of an Unconditional Basic Income, which is currently being trailed in Finland. Essentially it means no matter what, people have enough money to cover their basic needs. We also need safe social housing.

The consequences of austerity are starting to show. It’s not saving us money, it’s costing lives. Social Housing, not social cleansing was the core message of Sweets Way Resists. I’m angry that it’s taken the tragedy of The Grenfell Tower fire to bring social housing issues into the mainstream conversation. I don’t believe it was the fire that killed the victims of Grenfell. It was an absence of compassion within our political system, leading to a lack of resources to pull them out before it was too late. As the gap between the rich and the poor continues to increase, it’s time we asked ourselves as a society. How much is enough?

Samantha Pressdee: Back 2 Basics

Venue: Laughing Horse @ 48 Below

Time: 19:30pm

Dates: Aug 3rd-27th
 Click Here

June 15, 2017 Broadway Baby
#EdFringe17: Samantha Pressdee Goes Back 2 Basics
Sammy describes herself as “an anarcha-feminist, who confronted the patriarchy with my tits out.” In her new show, she will be baring her soul instead of her chest. Sammy chats about the ‘Free the Nipple’ movement and explains why she doesn’t see eye to eye with some other feminists. Click Here

June 15, 2017 Cornwall Live
Topless 'Action Barbie' who is sick of being treated like a sex toy is performing in Cornwall
Comedian Samantha Pressdee – who calls herself "an Action Barbie who's sick of being treated like a toy" – is known for performing and campaigning topless as part of the #FreeTheNipple campaign.
Read more at http://www.cornwalllive.com/topless-action-barbie-who-is-sick-of-being-treated-like-a-sex-toy-is-performing-in-cornwall/story-30293416-detail/story.html#V3eK5gvt4il4821C.99 Click Here

June 15, 2017 Broadway World
EDINBURGH 2017: BWW Q&A- Samantha Pressdee
Tell us a bit about Back To Basics.

Back to Basics is a show abut creating equal ground. It looks at what our basic needs are as a society and how we can meet them for ourselves and each other. I talk about a campaign against social cleansing I was involved in Sweets Way Resists. Families were fighting for their social housing in London, which was to be demolished to build luxury flats they wouldn't be able to afford. People were being asked to move out of London, away from their support networks and the lives they had created.

Lack of social housing and our complicated welfare system is not only destroYing Lives but costing lives. Without a feeling of security we can't maintain mental health. With the gap between the rich and the poor continually increasing, could giving every citizen an Unconditional Basic Income be a firmer foundation then our current disintegrating welfare safety net?

Why bring it to Edinburgh?

I feel like comedy is a good platform to get my voice heard. People are more likely to listen to hard hitting truths if you also make them laugh. Edinburgh can be a springboard to further opportunities.

I'm hoping people from the comedy industry will come see this show as I want to spread this message further. Also Edinburgh is really fun. Its the one time of the year when I feel truly part of a community. Lots of my friends are in one place and there is so much to see and do.

Why is it important for people to see it?

I'm taking about politics based on my lived experience. Its a working class perspective, which I feel is underrepresented in the arts. It's sad that it's taken for something as tragic as what happened with Grenfell Tower for social housing issues to become part of the mainstream conversation. This is an extreme example of social cleansing. It's awful that it takes an atrocity like this for the wider population to become aware of how many underprivileged people are really suffering and at risk.

I've been lucky with the support I've received from my local council for my mental health issues, a friend from the next borough to me was not so lucky. This show is in memory of my friend and respected Occupy activist Tom Palmer.

Who would you recommend comes to see you?

This show is for anyone that believes in creating a better, fairer and more secure future.

I've had people from all walks of life come to see the show in preview. It doesn't matter who you are, or where you come from if you care about community you'll be able to take something from this show.

Are there any other shows you're hoping to catch at the festival?

Looking forward to seeing Fern Brady, I enjoyed her show in preview. I always go see Mark Thomas, his show sounds very cool this year & Sarah Callaghan is someone I've been wanting to see but haven't had chance too yet.

Timings and ticket information for Samantha Pressdee: Back to Basics are available on the edfringe website. Click Here

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