Cougar Morrison is a disgraceful animal

Cougar Morrison

Local cabaret superstar and Pop Princess champion Cougar Morrison brings a heaped spoonful of his trademark sass to the Fringe World arena once again and this time he’s got a partner in crime. The WAAPA graduate and professional vocalist will be opening and closing this year’s festival with two shows, Animal Instincts in January and Disgraceful Cougars later in February with his equally talented and equally lewd companion, Disgrace Kelly. Clint Strindberg, the man behind the Morrison, sat down for a coffee with the team to explain why Fringe World is so symbolic for his character.

We’re so excited to get a double serving of Cougar at Fringe World this year, but why do you punish yourself like this?!

What was I thinking?! (laughs) Because it’s the best time of the year! Cougar started at Fringe in 2015 so it’s like a homecoming sort of feeling for me every time the festival comes around. We talk about Christmas being a crazy time… Fringe is way crazier! I think what makes it a bit easier as well is that they’re two very different shows I’m putting on this year. Animal Instincts is typical Cougar being rampant, sassy and sexy and all of the stories that need more than a PG rating. I’m a bit scared to bring my mum to this one actually. The filter has been thrown out the window… not that there really was one in the first place.

Disgraceful Cougars is something I’ve been working on for a long time with one of my great friends Caitlin Cassidy, an opera singer I met at WAAPA. She has a stage persona called Disgrace Kelly which is of course where we got the name for the show. We have the sort of chemistry where we make each other wheeze with laughter, and we’re totally useless in social situations so we wrote a show about growing older in an youth-driven industry, swapping Botox for blowjobs … this show really isn’t PG either but that’s the code of the spiegeltent.

You say Cougar was born at Fringe World in 2015, was he born to help combat Clint’s social awkwardness?

Yeah, he was largely! I didn’t perform as Cougar for about 10 years. I’d had the idea floating around in my head but I was just too scared to do it because it was very different to who Clint is, very different to what my family would expect from a Clint performance, very different to what I thought Australian audiences would want.

I think I grew the backbone for it when I lived in New York where there’s no filter at all. It’s totally normal to see (and I have seen it while having brunch in Hell’s Kitchen) an old guy wearing a pink sequined leotard with fishnet stockings riding a bicycle and the reaction was just “Hey! There’s a guy on a bike. I love these Eggs Hollandaise!” People just don’t care! I was getting frustrated within myself that I wasn’t progressing and I needed a kick up the bum. I wasn’t sure if Cougar would do that but he did and now Clint and Cougar help advise each other and I find performance is a sort of on-stage therapy.

It must have been so hard to get on stage as Cougar for the first time to see if the experiment would succeed.

Yep. The first time I bawled my eyes out on the way to the venue. All of the stories I tell on stage are my deepest and darkest moments that you probably wouldn’t share unless you’d had a massive night of drinking and you’re sitting on the bathroom floor having a D&M with a total stranger. On stage I’m sober! My fear was that if people didn’t like the stories, they didn’t like Clint. I was putting everything on the table and I’d shown them where the dagger needs to go to hit my heart. It was such an incredible relief that it went well. That never really goes away entirely, every time I try a new story I feel that again.

Cougar’s always got a new tilt on every song he performs, what should audiences expect this year?

Animal Instincts is full of those Cougar arrangements – mind-fucking to the extreme! As always, you’re not going to be able to guess where the song goes. I’m not giving anything away but people who have seen Cougar before will know that halfway through a song you’ll go “Oh! It’s THAT song!”. Sometimes I’ll layer three or four songs that all melt together and complement my stories.

Disgraceful Cougars has a lot of odes to the broads of the silver screen. Caitlin has such an incredible voice and she can warble like the starlets of MGM wished they could back in the day. Whereas I sound like a bleating goat when I sing so it lends itself to old school Hollywood. We’ll have a lot of that, as well as modern lip-sync, crumping… you name it!It’s not a particular genre but everything in there is totally recognisable.

Animal Instincts will be at Connections Nightclub from Friday January 20th – Sunday January 22nd & Disgraceful Cougars will be in the Salon Perdu Spiegeltent from Wednesday February 15th – Sunday February 19th. Tickets available from

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