Olivia shows off her naughty bits... again!
Fearless comic becomes public enemy number one in her new hidden-camera sketch showWhen I call Olivia Lee for a chat about her new show, Dirty Sexy Funny, she's being her charming self. But more often than not, you'll find her reinvented as Door Bitch, Lipstick Girl or Lady Gatecrasher.
Her hidden camera sketch show sees her taking to the streets as a host of ballsy characters, none afraid to embarrass themselves in the name of comedy. "It's a sketch show format like Catherine Tate and Little Britain but we put them in the real world and see the public's reaction to them," explains Olivia.
First piloted on Channel 4 in 2008, when it was entitled Olivia Lee's Naughty Bits, the show proved to be so popular that Comedy Central decided to commission a series. Directly inspired by shows like Gossip Girl, Desperate Housewives and The Hills, the series is narrated by the voice of an anonymous, unseen "City Girl" blogger, who introduces a host of glamorously eccentric and misguided characters living in London. "I think these shows are brilliant," she says of the aforementioned programmes. "They are really zeitgeisty and you get a great social commentary on what is going on in the world."
Olivia, 29, says she realised there hadn't been a glamorous female comedy in this country yet, but while previous ones provided fodder, hers was going to be different. "Shows like Sex and the City provided great inspiration, but my show is a little satirical poke if I'm honest about it."
The characters range from Octavia Clement-Dunwoody (OCD to her friends) who likes wearing rubber gloves and plastic overshoes all the time, to Anna Shaw, a character based on American Vogue's notoriously icy editor, Anna Wintour.
Which is her favourite to play? "I like Lady Gatecrasher - she's the ballsiest. When I'm playing her I go to events and crash the stage, which is fun to do as it's so in the moment with a mass audience."
Does she ever feel bad for duping people? "If they get upset, yes, but the beauty of the show is that they don't - it's very warm. The joke's on me! We don't set out to upset anyone - that's never fun."
Is she naturally very ballsy or did it take some practice? "No, I think I'm direct," she says. "I say what I feel and I don't hold things in. I'm not afraid to voice my opinion, which is sometimes to my detriment - I'm learning to keep my mouth shut sometimes!"
How much of her own personality is in each of the characters? "It depends on the character. Usually I am drawing upon something deep inside me or someone around me, so I never have to look too far for inspiration."
Now one of Britain's biggest rising female comedy stars, Olivia says she realised she had a knack for comedy when her agent would send her for acting roles and she would just get the comedy parts. Glamorous, mischievous and armed with a razor-sharp wit, she is best known to viewers from her Prank TV with Miss Lee slot on the hit Friday night show Balls of Steel on Channel 4.
She kick-started her career on popular BBC children's sitcom, The Basil Brush Show, playing the Brush's girlfriend and hasn't looked back since. She's hosted a variety of entertainment shows including E4's Unanimous - The Fallout alongside comedian Paddy McGuinness, T4's The Morning After Show with Simon Amstell, together with movie specials for both ITV and T4, interviewing A-listers including Will Smith, Keanu Reeves and Owen Wilson.
Smith, she says, is the best person she has ever interviewed. "He is so self-effacing. We were sitting on deckchairs on a beach in Hawaii when his suddenly collapsed and he fell off. He could have walked off in a strop, but he just laughed and laughed. He thanked everyone after and was totally charming."
Olivia is also a regular on E! Channel, covering most of their UK premieres, and has even made the leap to the silver screen with movie roles including Number One Girl with Vinnie Jones. She has also gained popularity in the States where she hosted the hit show Battle of the Bods for FOX, and has starred in the hit MTV show Punk'd after being cast as one of Ashton Kutcher's comedy sidekicks, as well as starring in a pilot for NBC called Comedy Coliseum.
She's also been compared to risque comedienne, Sarah Silverman. "I'm very flattered by the comparisons, but she is much ruder than I am and has definitely surpassed me in the filth area!" she laughs. "It is a great comparison - we are both Jewish and have massive bums so, yes, I suppose we are quite similar."
She says her favourite comedian is Bill Hicks. "I just love his 'I don't give a f*** attitude' which isn't something I can emulate because I do care what people think. He had very strong opinions about the world and wasn't afraid to stand up for himself. He died before I was even born though."
Does she think being Jewish influences her ability to entertain? "I think so," she muses. "Jewish people are louder, brasher, more honest and not afraid of our shadows. Most Jews I know have an immense spirit and lust for life. And you always have your mum and dad saying you're brilliant even if you're not!"
Dirty Sexy Funny is on Comedy Central on Mondays at 10pm throughout March and April
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