‘I’m just talking about my vagina excessively’: Comic Grace Campbell bares all about her new book Amazing Disgrace

The 26-year-old stand up is a self-proclaimed oversharer

The cover of Grace Campbell’s book is an illustration of her riding a phallic-shaped cloud. It’s not understated but, as a self-proclaimed oversharer, Grace isn’t one for subtlety.

‘I love talking about subjects that confront things in other people, not to make them uncomfortable but just to show them it’s not as scary as they think it is.

‘The book is a lot about my relationships with men, so you can see the cover as sexual or you can see it as symbolic of me getting my own back on some of them, and also appreciating the good ones,’ says the 26-year-old stand-up, who hosts The Disgraceful Club, a comedy night for women and LGBTQ+, and co-created The Pink Protest, a platform for female activism.

‘I want people to be prepared for what’s inside.

‘Sometimes I felt with my Edinburgh Festival show last year, it was being pitched as a show about growing up in politics but it was rude and a lot about sex,’ notes Grace, the daughter of Tony Blair’s former press secretary, Alastair Campbell.

Grace’s book cover might raise a few eyebrows, but not from politician dad Alistair

Her dad wasn’t shocked by the cover and nor was her mum, Fiona Millar, a campaigner and former adviser to Cherie Blair – but then, says Grace, ‘they’re never shocked, ever. They just want to make sure my grandma doesn’t see it’.

Nothing’s off limits in Amazing Disgrace: A Book About ‘Shame’. Mental health, toxic relationships, sex, jealousy, substance abuse and self-sabotage – it’s all there.

‘Writing it helped me process certain things and how I’ve coped with my shame in the past,’ says Grace, who wrote the book during lockdown. ‘I just threw myself into it, and that’s why it’s very raw and unfiltered, but it did bring things up that were painful to think about again.’

One of the toughest chapters to write relates to sexual violence.

‘Often rape is discussed in relation to being attacked by a stranger but it’s much more nuanced and we don’t give this topic enough room to breathe,’ she says. ‘You can look back retrospectively on an experience and think, “That wasn’t right, it wasn’t supposed to happen like that and I’m allowed to feel a certain way about it.”’

She describes herself as ‘incredibly arrogant and insecure at the same time’ and believes these polar traits derive ‘from what my dad did and how I interacted with him as a child and how I felt I was competing with the prime minister for attention’.

Like father like daughter: Grace has tried to make Alistair a better feminist (Credits: Ken McKay/ITV/REX/Shutterstock)

‘When I was younger, I wanted to be like my dad, someone who was loud, who could lead conversations and make people laugh, but because we’re both dominant it was initially stressful working together [on the podcast Football, Feminism & Everything In Between].

Luckily, we’ve found an equilibrium and it’s really balanced out. As for him becoming a better feminist, I think my work is done.

He’ll now tweet stuff I didn’t even tell him to say and nail it, so he’s come a long way. But the difference between him and a lot of men in the media is he’s willing to listen and to improve himself.’

It was her third birthday when New Labour’s Blair was voted PM in May 1997 and Grace became a regular at Number 10.

She remembers, aged seven, the arrival of Russia’s Vladimir Putin (‘seriously tiny’) during a state visit, meeting Boris Johnson (‘grubby, his hair was messy’) during VIP access at a Miley Cyrus concert and was nine when people began congregating outside their home, holding placards with ‘Alastair Campbell = War Criminal’ scrawled across them.

‘If I’d been older, I would’ve got in loads of arguments with Tony Blair about what they were doing,’ states Grace. ‘I’m happy for people to associate me with my dad because I love him but I don’t want people to think I’m a fan of Blair.’

The subject caused friction at home.

‘The Iraq war caused problems in my parents’ relationship and then Brexit brought them back together but everything comes back to politics for them,’ she says.

‘I think that period gave me a lot of anxiety and it made me very protective of my parents. I still am incredibly protective of my dad because I’ve seen him very vulnerable.

‘When I was a kid, people would come up to us on the street all the time and just say horrible stuff and he couldn’t react. It made me quite an angry person.

‘As a teenager I was so loud, always entertaining people, but internally I was thinking, “No one’s going to love me and I’m never going to be seen as worthy of someone’s sexual love in the way my friends loved me”.’

She was preoccupied by ‘dismal encounters with men’.

Her new podcast, Amazing Disgrace: The Voicenotes, is characteristically fearless.
‘People who are brave are people who risk their lives doing things,’ she says. ‘I’m just talking about my vagina excessively in the hope other people will feel less afraid and let go of the shame.’

Amazing Disgrace: A Book About ‘Shame’ by Grace Campbell (Hodder Studio) is out now

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