Danielle Ward breaks free of embassy life

Danielle Ward has gone from an office job to staging her own comedy musical

When Danielle Ward left university in 2004, she followed the well-trodden graduate path into an office job. “I looked on Guardian Jobs, I didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I applied for a job at the South Korean embassy and I got it,” says Ward, now 28. “I realised that I had no social life, I was surrounded by high-ranking South Korean diplomats, so I went on a comedy writing course to meet new people.”

Six years later and the evening class that started as a social exercise has become a full-time career for the Mornington Crescent-based Ward. Her stand-up routines have been critically acclaimed at the Edinburgh festival and she even went to Miami to perform in the NBC Last Comic Standing show.

Now, as well as co-hosting the Dave Gorman show on Absolute Radio, she is co-ordinating a London performance of her comedy theatre show Gutted: A Revenger’s Musical following its success in Edinburgh.

“The musical is about a woman who marries the man who murdered her parents in order to get revenge,” says Ward. “It’s a combination of Hamlet and Batman.”

The musical, showing for one night only at the Leicester Square Theatre, includes a 24-piece band supporting a cast which includes Isy Suttie, best known as Dobbie from the TV series Peep Show.

“I’ve known Isy for a long time,” says Ward. “We originally wanted her to be in the cast of the Edinburgh shows but she couldn’t because of Peep Show. It’s great that she’s involved now.

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“People have said to me, ‘Why are you only doing one night?’ But there are 45 performers involved so it’s a pretty big project to keep repeating it.”

This grand show is a far cry from the first show Ward featured in: the final culmination of the comedy writing class. After success in this small production, she started doing open mic shows and struck lucky when performing at the King’s head in Crouch End.

“Russell Brand was my compere on my first stand-up gig there,” says Ward. “He said he really liked my stand-up and that he had a gig up in Camden which I should do. I won’t hear a bad word said about Russell Brand – he’s one of the people who got me started in comedy.”

The embassy researcher who went to a comedy writing course now seems worlds away, with Ward involved in many comedy writing and performance projects, including a pilot for Radio 2 and a comedy girl band called The Balconettes. There’s also a chance that Gutted may be adapted for TV. “There’s a little bit of interest on working it into a screenplay,” says Ward.

Ward seems half-impressed and half-baffled by her successful route off the beaten career path and into comedy. “Sometimes I think maybe I should have a job that means I contribute more to society. At the moment I get paid for just messing about. Some people know they want to be a comedian when they’re little, when I was little I wanted to be an astronaut. This comedy thing was really unexpected.”

o Gutted: A Revenger’s Musical is at the Leicester Square Theatre on January 31. For tickets, call 0844 873 3433.