WEST DORSET: Sara Pascoe has been thinking a lot about love recently.

Her new touring show, Sara Pascoe Vs History explores some of the greatest love stories ever told. No, not Jordan and Peter, Posh ’n’ Becks or Will and Kate, but the timeless ones such as Joséphine and Napoleon, Adam ’n’ Eve and, um, Eva and Adolf.

“She was in love with him for years before he would even agree to be seen with her in public,” states Pascoe. “And they got married just before their joint suicide at the end: that’s a love story of sorts. Napoleon and Joséphine would be up there; his love letters were said to be among the most romantic ever written but it turned really tragic as he divorced her because she was in her 40s and couldn’t give him any children.

“He needed an heir but couldn’t stay with his best friend and the woman he really loved. And there’s the idea of Adam and Eve having rows in Eden because there’s no one else to talk to. So when the snake shows up, she thinks: ‘Thank God for that, it’s just been Adam every day’.”

Anyone who has followed the stand-up career of the talented Ms Pascoe would realise that she isn’t just reeling off a list of historical male/female couples for the sake of it, there are serious arguments at the heart of her show.

“One of my points is that monogamy is a cultural system and not a natural one, and sometimes we worry that our relationships aren’t right or that we’re bad people because we might fancy someone that isn’t our partner.

“So Hillary and Bill Clinton could be seen as a very modern romance as he was very publically unfaithful to her. Those things weren’t a reflection on her and she has gone on to become incredibly powerful and her ability to deal with that situation has given her strength in other ways.”

Although she had a wildly successful Edinburgh Fringe with this show (it gained her a first nomination for the main Edinburgh Comedy Award), Pascoe found there was almost too much material to pack in. It also dealt with sperm competition theory, her own relationship with a fellow comedian, having babies, and a novel idea she has to revamp Page 3. Taking the show on tour allows her to breathe new energy into sections that might have felt a little cramped due to the constraints of squeezing it all into one hour.

“There were also some ideas that weren’t ready in time that I’ll come back to. And this was the first time I’d had the experience of thinking it’s okay if bits weren’t ready for the Edinburgh show as I could work them up in gigs for the tour.

“So it felt like Edinburgh was the beginning of the process rather than the end of it and because I was doing a show about something in particular. I had people sending me articles or telling me about books I should read; and while I was performing the show, other things were happening that fed into it.

“I talk a little bit in the show about not having children and since then it has played on my mind a bit more and so I can push out and extend on something that was perhaps previously just one line.”

One recent review described Pascoe as having a magpie curiosity. She was rather taken with the description.

“I really like animals so I don’t mind that but then it sounds like I might be stealing; magpies will see glittery things elsewhere and think: ‘I’ll have that in my nest.’ But the worst thing people can think of you in this business is that you’ve stolen someone else’s jokes because it means you’re not being actively creative. If I discover that I have material that’s similar to someone else, I get rid of it and write something different.”

One attribute she has willingly applied to herself is that of being arrogant. In conversation with Pascoe, arrogant is not a word that you would immediately, or even on further contemplation, associate with her.

Chatty, open and generous spring more easily to mind. But she believes a flash of arrogance is required to sometimes get her motivated, in order to do the best work she can.

“Arrogance can be seen as a very negative thing, but think about a toddler: you say to them: ‘You can’t run faster than me’ and they say: ‘Yes I can’ and they will try and fail, but I think you have to be very careful not to have negative thoughts all the time.

When you’re writing a show, you might be thinking: ‘I won’t be as good as the others, I shouldn’t be doing this, I should let all the talented people do the work.’ Instead I have a monologue that says: ‘I’m getting better and I am allowed to do this and maybe I can run faster than an adult.’ “It’s not a superiority thing, it’s a positive arrogance to think: ‘Well, maybe I can be the best.’”

Being among the best of her stand-up generation certainly wasn’t something she imagined for herself at a young age.

“I definitely wasn’t funny as a child and my mum backs that up.

“I was very earnest, loved animals a lot and cried all the time.

“When I was 14, I did amateur dramatics because I wanted to be an actor, but my mum took me aside and said: ‘Sara, you’ll never make it as an actor, you cry too much.’ But actually, crying’s really helpful: it shows that you’re passionate and you care.”

At 18, Pascoe tried to get into drama school but couldn’t quite get in and ended up studying English Literature at Sussex University where she did begin to appear on stage.

“I wanted to do dramatic Chekhov pieces or Sarah Kane plays but I was always cast in comedies which really annoyed me.

“I thought comedy was very easy and cheap; in 2006 I was in a sketch show which was all about topical stuff and it gave me a chance to write.

“Then I tried stand-up for the first time. I certainly had no plans for it to be my career but it rather assiduously took over my life and I’m now a comedy obsessive.”

That growing obsession carried her through her first open spots and onto the Hackney Empire in January 2008 where she appeared in their new act competition with a belief that she would do well.

“I had to follow a dog that was jumping up at a balloon and he stormed it and then I went on. As I’d done well in all my gigs to that point and other comics were saying really nice things about me, I was quite cocky and felt I’d really nailed this stand-up thing already.

“But when I started talking, nothing good was coming out.

“They weren’t shouting at me to get off, but their faces said: ‘We hate you and you’re not funny’ and that was so horrible. But on the way home I did remember comics saying when you have the bad one and still want to do it that’s when you know that you’re a comedian.”

That determination has served Pascoe well and she’s allied an increasingly impressive stand-up CV with appearing on panel shows such as Mock The Week and QI and acting in comedies such as The Thick Of It and Campus.

Although she has ambitions to write a novel and may well have a stab at penning a semi-autobiographical sitcom one day, live comedy is where she gets her creative buzz right now.

“I once thought that it would be very easy to make people laugh but it’s all about alchemy and magic. It’s not even an exact science, because you can have all the right ingredients but sometimes it just doesn’t work. Yet sometimes you can be in tune with it and you can improvise and it all works. At that point, it can be a really powerful thing.”

Catch Sara Pascoe Vs History at the Electric Palace, Bridport on Saturday, January 17 at 8pm.