That’s just one of the stories that came out of her Melbourne International Comedy Festival show All Ears. She’s bringing elements of the show to Perth with the Melbourne International Comedy Festival Roadshow.
Out in Perth spoke to the New Zealand born comedian in her adopted home of Melbourne:
It’s like a little smorgasbord that you guys get, 5 or 6 comedians doing 10 or 15 minutes each, and Joel Creasy and I are sharing MC duties, so I do four spots about 5 or 10 minutes each and glue the evening together. It’s lots of fun and it’s also a great opportunity to see other comedians because when you do the comedy festival, you never get to see any other shows.
Can we talk about your last show, highlights of which will inform your spots at the roadshow, if I’ve got the concept right its that; truth is funnier than fiction.
Basically I came to the conclusion that I would much rather hear a funny true story than a set up joke, so I had a whole lot of subjects up on the wall of things that I love to hear stories about, and the audience picked which ones we would discuss, so each night the show was different. I had things like travel, sex, people that love their pets too much, moments of mortification, near death experiences, things like that. So they would choose what they wanted to hear about and I had a few stories for each one, and then the members of the audience would tell me theirs.
Did you find the audiences were generally happy to be a part of the show?
Yes I think so, because I’m not a threatening comedian (laughs) and because I’m willing to talk about anything, like for example with moments of mortification, I said one of mine was going to my first mothers group, and shooting another woman in the face with my breast milk… So once you’ve told that story about yourself, people are more relaxed about telling their stories.
But also there’s only so much preparation you can do for that, the audience can throw anything at you, it must be daunting.
Well it keeps you on your toes. I always had a story to start and to end each topic, and the show ended with me telling the story I said I’d never tell… it was the worst night of my life.
But it did keep me on my toes because I wouldn’t know what the audience would come up with, but there were some amazing stories. Like a guy who had gone to Greece, and he was on this little island by himself and stopped at a taverna. He sat outside at a table and ordered a coke and drank in the scenery. Then when he went to pay he discovered he was just at someone’s house. He thought he was at a pub but he was at someone’s house! I just thought that was the most perfect story, just imagining the family inside pissing themselves… and he was squealing when he told this story because it was obviously still so awful and hilarious for him, that was one of my favourite stories.
Can we hear your mortifying story? Tell us about the worst night of your life.
Basically I have this morbid fear of vomiting in front of other people, it think its quite literally the worst possible thing that could happen to you. And when I was in Venice with my husband for my birthday, we were going out for a romantic night, I got a terrible migraine and I ended up throwing up into my own hands at a restaurant. It was the just the most horrific thing that I could imagine happening, and it happened to me!
As I was being sick into my hands I started choking on it and I made this terribly loud noise so everyone in the restaurant turned around, and because I was so spaced out from my migraine I wouldn’t go home! My husband was like: ‘can we just go home?’ And I was like: ‘No! We have to stay, its my birthday, I’m having a lovely time.’ So it was like this big cathartic thing to tell that story and have everyone laugh at it.
But I had one weird experience in a show one night where a few people walked out, and I was a bit surprised because I didn’t think I’d been offensive or anything. Later when I told the vomiting story people didn’t really laugh at it, and I thought: ‘that’s a bit strange’. But once they’d all left I discovered a guy had thrown up over everyone in the back row. And so it’s like, of course you didn’t like that story because you’ve just lived through it! I was telling another comedian about it afterwards and he goes ‘oh yeah that guy stole your chunder’.
Was it always going to be comedy for you?
I thought I wanted to be an actor or go into advertising, and then started doing improv and discovered I could be funny doing that and then sort of fell into stand up. So it was always going to be something creative, I had given myself 5 years to make a living out of it, and that was about 15 years ago, so I just landed in this thing by accident but I really love it.
What can you tell us about your next project?
Well I’m thinking about next year’s comedy festival already, which is unusual for me, but that’s the next writing thing that I’m doing. I’m waiting to hear back on a couple of TV ideas that I’ve pitched to a network, and then I’m just doing lots of live work at the moment, and flying back to New Zealand to do their version of Good News Week. So it’s nice to be able to go home and tie in with some of my old friends and then come back here and work with my new ones.
How do you feel about being an honourary Australian? We do claim a lot of kiwis don’t we.
We do… you do (laughs) ‘we do’ I said, I’m so fine with it! Yeah I’ve become used to it. I’ve just come back from London and people would ask where I’m from and I would just say ‘Australia’, whereas before I would go: ‘oh I’m a New Zealander but I live in Australia now’, but now I think: that’s fine, I’ll be an Aussie. But don’t tell any Kiwis that!
Don’t worry I don’t think we have that wide a distribution.
Hey, you never know. Think big!
Cal Wilson is MCing the Melbourne International Comedy Festival Roadshow at His Majesty’s Theatre on June 23 and 24. The show opens on the 20th and features David Quirk, Harley Breen, Joel Creasey, Smart Casual and Marina Franklin. Tickets through Bocs.