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Lou Sanders: "I hope I don't get cancelled"

The comedian on her role in new comedy series Mel Giedroyc: Unforgivable, losing our humanity, and arseholes

Some enjoy them rare. Others, well-done. And there are those who - without knowing it - enjoy their steaks after they’ve been dropped on the floor and washed clean in a toilet. Not the room; the actual porcelain.

Welcome, viewers and newly-converted vegetarians, to Mel Giedroyc: Unforgivable, where comedians and celebrities share such tales of misbehaviour, inadvertent wrongdoing, and untold embarrassment. This comic contest - where being the worst is best - serves a valuable purpose when we’re unable to gather in a quiet corner of a pub or over a mate’s kitchen table to hear stories which light up an entire night, as well as everyone’s eyebrows.

Comedian Lou Sanders is Giedroyc’s right-hand woman on the show, its resident scribe and agent provocateur, asking guests questions such as, “Did you bite a girl’s tongue off, babe?”. Did this acclaimed comedian ever see her career reaching this point? “Well, put it this way,” replies Sanders. “If you told me that 10 years ago I wouldn't be surprised. But I would be surprised I was getting paid to ask. I used to hang around with some absolute delinquents.”

In 2018 Sanders’ Edinburgh Fringe show Shame Pig - a hit which was the joint Comedians’ Choice Award winner - dealt with similar stories which could be the source of guilt or the as-titled shame. The pair couldn’t be better suited. “At first I wished I had thought of the format, and then I was delighted just to be involved,” says Sanders, who sees a wider benefit to these high-profile admissions. “We need to air our dirty laundry in public to exonerate ourselves from the shame. Get it all out. The danger is when we pretend we're not human. It brings you together if you all say the worst things you've done.”

Which could be a risky proposition in this age, when clickbait headlines strip interviews out of context and boil nuance from their meaning. There’s a spicy and extremely funny exchange in the first episode between Sanders and presenter Alex Brooker (the joke will not be spoiled here), which she thought would land her in trouble. “I was worried I was going to be cancelled because of that. He was making jokes about himself before filming and I asked if we were all allowed to make jokes and he said. ‘Yeah, of course.’ So I cleared it with him first, but when I saw it I thought, ‘Oh no, I hope I don't get cancelled.’” She hasn’t, nor should she be.

Life is a hot mess and digital spaces where perfection is presented or pursued deny this reality, as well as the opportunity to make our own mistakes; Unforgivable, in its own small but very entertaining way, allows for the shared experience of screwing up. “Judi Love shares a very funny story but some of it is horrifying. But she was a kid when it happened. That's how we all fuck up and it's how we learn,” says Sanders. “Nobody is perfect from birth. This is why it's good this show's come along. The danger online sometimes is sanctifying some people and assuming no-one's got a mucky past - that you're either good or bad and we're all going to judge you. This show is a light hearted look at all the fuck ups we've made, which I think is important.”

Over the past year we’ve all spent longer online - whether to keep updated with the latest doom bulletin or to distract ourselves from the latest doom bulletin - and with that comes a certain pressure to uphold a digital persona. Is there a danger in having this potentially virtuous exterior and not accepting certain parts of yourself, or have others not believe those parts of your character exist? “Yes - I love when people say about what’s really going on in their life. At the start of January Sharon Horgan posted on Instagram personal details about going to the doctor because she felt like shit about herself. She then said, ‘I've also got a problem with my arsehole’.

“Sharon Hogan is beautiful. She's really successful. She's really classy. I thought it was so funny coming from her - even Sharon Horgan gets problems with her arsehole. I messaged her saying, ‘Oh, I had a problem with my arsehole,’ and it's very bonding.” Was that the first person she’d messaged about her arsehole? “I think so. But not the last.”

Unforgivable series two beckons.

Unforgivable airs on Dave at 10pm Tuesdays - catch up with the series on UKTV Play

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