BY her own admission Rachel Fairburn was painfully shy as a youngster so she’s perhaps the last person you would think would be heading out on her third headline stand-up comedy tour.

“I’m still shy now although no-one ever believes me,” said Rachel, who on Saturday will be kicking off her Show Girl tour by playing a home-town date at Manchester Opera House.

“For me to be doing the job I’m doing now even baffles me sometimes. How did this shy insular person go on to do what I’m doing now?”

That, in a nutshell, has been the inspiration for the Show Girl tour.

“I suppose I’m answering the question that I get asked most often, ‘how did you get into comedy?’” said Rachel.

As you might suspect, the answer’s not quite what you would expect.

“It’s all thanks to Gordon Brown’s New Deal when he was Prime Minister,” said Rachel - who is also co-host of the hit comedy podcast All Killa No Filla alongside fellow comedian Kiri Pritchard-McLean. “He put loads of money into deprived areas including a stand-up comedy course.

“In a rare fit of confidence I range up about it. I was from Harpurhey which is North Manchester and they said that it was really for East Manchester residents but as there were so few women on the course they told me to go along anyway.

“It was free over eight weeks. I was so nervous. but I forced myself to go and after the first session I thought ‘maybe I can do this’.

“I remember at the time there was a lot of controversy about it - money being given to a course about stand-up comedy - but it really helped a lot of people from all different walks of life. It gave you confidence and without it I would never have known where to start being a comedian. So thank you Gordon Brown for making that happen.”

Since those early days Rachel has performed six solo shows at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and has become a familiar face on TV through appearances on the likes of Stand Up For Live Comedy on the BBC and Sky’s Russell Howard Hour.

Show Girl represents her biggest tour yet and she’s kicking it all off at one of the country’s largest theatres.

“Because I’m from Manchester and proud of that I always either start or finish a tour there,” she said. “When I was thinking about this tour I just thought ‘let’s do something special let’s do a great big venue and make a night of it’.”

In playing the Opera House Rachel will become the first Mancunian female comedian since Victoria Wood to have a solo show at the venue.

But it’s something she’s clearly just taking in her stride.

“To be honest, I never really think about the venue,” she said. “Obviously doing the Opera House means I’ll have to perform a bit bigger but it’s stand-up, it’s not a musical.

“I always just think this show is funny, let’s get it out there to people.”

The creative side of comedy is something Rachel clearly loves.

“I’m always writing,” she said. “I started writing this show in January and I’m always working on ideas. With Show Girl, that’s ready to go now and I just want to get it out in front of an audience but part of part of me is also thinking ‘what can we do next year?’

“I’ve written three shows in three years so think I’ve got a pretty good work ethic. I just want to get the ideas out there. I love doing it and I’m always trying new material and it’s so exciting when a show is coming together.

“But once a tour is over I’m moving on. If you asked me to do my show from last year now I wouldn’t be able to remember most of it, even though I did it hundreds of times. I’m very in it when I’m performing it but I move on very quickly.”

The semi-autobiographical nature of Show Girl is something new for Rachel.

“I’ve never really spoken much about things to do with my life on stage,” she said. “Part of reason is that I don’t really think anything funny ever happens to me. But then I mention things to people and they’ll just go ‘what? say that again and start laughing. So I thought I’d share some things from my life and as I said before try to answer the ‘how did you get started?’ question.”

Rachel Fairburn, Show Girl, Manchester Opera House, Saturday, September 9 (details from and Darwen Library Theatre on Saturday, October 14 (details from