Before she became an Emmy award-winner and $20 million Amazon deal-maker, Phoebe Waller-Bridge was just trying to be a good friend and ended up "tricked" into writing a 10-minute sketch for a comedy show.
She told the Los Angeles Times in a 2017 interview that she came up with the original idea of "Fleabag" to help out her friend Deborah Frances-White, who needed to fill a 10-minute slot at a comedy show. But she was reluctant to do so at first.
"She had been trying to get me to do stand-up for ages, and I was like, 'No no no,'" Waller-Bridge said of her friend's request. "And she tricked me with this one. She said it was storytelling with comedians and it was sitting down."
The piece, which Waller-Bridge wrote in a few days, was a success, thanks in part to the writer's ability to include her own trickery in her storytelling.
"So I ran with the stand-up thing, and the first 9½ minutes was basically the character delivering joke after joke about how bleak her life was," Waller-Bridge explained. "I really wanted that idea of an emotional twist at the end of something that seems so relentlessly funny, because I don't think people can be relentlessly funny unless they're hiding some kind of pain."
Seeing the audience's reaction to the performance, Waller-Bridge says her best friend and DryWrite Theatre Company co-founder, Vicky Jones, along with their producer, Francesca Moody, insisted the sketch become a full-length play. Before they knew it, they had a venue at Edinburgh's Fringe Festival, where it ran for a month and won a Fringe First award. "I didn't really have a choice," Waller-Bridge said. "It was the best kind of bullying from my friends ever."
"Fleabag" would go on to be developed as a TV show aired on BBC and picked up by Amazon to stream to U.S. audiences. Since then, the entertainer's portfolio has expanded to include working on "Broadchurch" and "Crashing," and creating, writing and executive producing the award-winning spy thriller "Killing Eve." She made her mark on the big screen, appearing in "Solo: A Star Wars Story," and was brought on by Daniel Craig himself to rewrite the script for the next James Bond movie. Next up: She's executive producing HBO's upcoming comedy series "Run."
"This is the biggest thing, by far, that's ever happened to me," she told the LA Times back in 2017. "And it's amazing that it's come from 'Fleabag.'"
Waller-Bridge took home three Emmy awards this week for best comedy writing, acting and overall series for "Fleabag." Just a few days later, Amazon announced a $20 million a year deal with Waller-Bridge, through which she'll create and produce new TV content the streaming platform.
"I'm insanely excited to be continuing my relationship with Amazon,' Waller-Bridge said in a statement. 'Working with the team on 'Fleabag' was the creative partnership dreams are made of. It really feels like home. I can't wait to get going!'
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