What can people expect from the tour?
It’s about Emma Hamilton, the love of Horatio Nelson’s life. I was fascinated by her story. She worked in a brothel and was a life model. We have a lot in common — I was a life model. I saw how much of a disservice she was done by history. They had a baby together and Nelson, in his will before the Battle of Trafalgar, asked that she be looked after financially, but because she was from a working-class background and had worked in a brothel, his will wasn’t respected and she’s been painted as a harlot. So I tell her story though jokes.
When were you a life model?
I did it for ten years before I started making any money from stand-up. I modelled in art colleges all over London. She modelled for the great artists of her day and I modelled for GCSE students in Tower Hamlets.
What did she do after Nelson died?
She ended up in massive debt because they didn’t give her any money. She escaped her debts by becoming a refugee in Calais, where she died a derelict alcoholic.
This doesn’t sound like a barrel of laughs…
It’s tragic, but tragedy plus time equals comedy and it’s been 200 years, so there’s comedy to be had. I compare her to myself — the letters she wrote to one of her partners begging him to let her keep her baby, because she had a child with another aristocrat and her partner wouldn’t allow her to raise that child. I had a child with a man who didn’t want a part of it and I read out the email I sent him, comparing the options two women had in different times. I was able to raise a child without a man but she wasn’t able to do that because of the times she lived in.
How did you become interested in her?
We did a play at school about Nelson. Our teachers told us he had a mistress and there were giggles — we’re still shocked today that people have affairs but the Georgians were much more accepting that monogamy wasn’t the natural way to be. The Duchess of Devonshire had a baby with a future prime minister outside her marriage — the modern equivalent would be Kate Middleton having a baby with Corbyn. We’re a lot more puritanical today.
Have any of your I’m A Celebrity friends seen the show?
Jamie Lomas and Jennie McAlpine came to see it in Manchester and the others came to see it at the Soho Theatre in London. Dennis Wise told me his favourite stand-up is Jim Davidson so I wonder what he made of it.
You’re all still pals, then?
You put any human beings into a surreal environment and they’re not going to get on in the same way they would in a pub — so I always look forward to hanging out with them with a beer in my hand and the option to leave. Please write ‘she said with a grin on her face’.
You were the first to get the boot. Were you bothered?
No, I took it as a great act of compassion by the British public. I took it as a measure of my popularity. I’m very glass-half-full. I missed my children dreadfully. It wasn’t an ego knock to be the first to go. I made two promises to myself when I went in the jungle — that I wouldn’t cry and I wouldn’t slag anyone off. I left just as I was about to break both of them.
Who were you about to slag off?
I’m not telling you. I found some of the lads hard going. I found it hard to be myself because I don’t do small talk. My conversation even with complete strangers gets very personal very quickly. I can’t talk to people about my favourite crisp flavour for an hour, I’d rather ask someone why they got divorced. I felt struck dumb in there.
How long have you been vegan?
Since September but I’m relaxed about it — I don’t check if the wine I’m drinking is vegan.
Why did you become a vegan?
I’m a binge eater and it really helps me if I keep my food simple. It’s healthier for me. And this isn’t a very glamorous reason but it has cleared up my eczema. I tour, I’m a single mum, I’m on the go all the time and a vegan diet gives me more energy. You have to think more about your protein and fibre and all that malarkey. Also, the vegan comedians I know are so healthy — I had coffee with Sara Pascoe recently and she glows. It does make a difference.
■ Shappi Khorsandi’s Mistress And Misfit tour continues nationwide until June. shappi.co.uk