Would you believe that two of Australia’s funniest women comedians live in Mullumbimby? In fact Ellen Briggs was Mandy Nolan’s star comedy student at her adult-education class almost a decade ago, and now, with thousands of gigs under their collective belt, these two women thought it was time to team up. It’s Prude versus Rude!
Ellen, your show is called Women LIke Us. What kind of women is that exactly?
Women who are ‘girls’ girls’. Women who can laugh at themselves and how ridiculous we can be. Women that make mistakes and get back up and dust themselves off, re-apply their lippy, have a bitch about how that was someone else’s fault, and that no-one else in the house ever does anything, pick up some groceries, make some school lunches, and just bloody get on with it. You know. That type of woman.
Describe Mandy in five words.
Hilarious, fearless, generous, admirable, dangerous (that last one refers to her driving).
The show has been touted as PRUDE v RUDE. How do you think the combination of your different comedic styles works together?
While we both cover similar topics, our styles are so different. I really am a bit of prude to be honest, and I’m incredibly old-fashioned, whereas Mandy has this wonderful ability of pushing the envelope so far that there really is no turning back. I love to tell a story, and weave my way in and out of it, and it must have a beginning and ending for me. Mandy might start one thing, and next thing you know, she has you by the hand and you’re running with her head on into something completely different. It’s a really great mix of styles.
What are the challenges of being a regional comedian?
The amount of time I spend in the car. Most work is at least an hour away, often two, to do a 40-minute show. It’s exhausting doing all that driving, but I think the regionality is what makes us interesting. Just living where we live is interesting. I wouldn’t have half my material if I lived on the Gold Coast!
What about being a woman on the circuit. Do you notice any inherent sexisms along the way?
If I have to travel away overnight for work, I always get asked, ‘What are you doing with the kids?’ My husband is away nine months of the year and I guarantee he has never been asked that question. Some of the intros that I get are pretty off. Like, ‘Wow, you’re in for a treat. Our next comedian is a woman!’ Like they wouldn’t have noticed that I was a woman. Or, ‘This chick has a pretty nice set’. Hilarious, huh? Some people have said I only get some of the gigs I get because I am a woman. I’m not sure how that works because there are actually promoters who have admitted that they don’t like headlining women because they worry people won’t turn up. People have a perception that all we are going to talk about is periods, vaginas, and beat up on men. It’s actually completely the opposite. I don’t even think I have a vagina joke!
What are the daily issues that rock your boat?
I have an ongoing battle with a local farmer that gets me going most days! I think we’re at the point of his thinking I am completely unstable, and that’s what I was aiming for. I am often exhausted from work and then getting up and getting kids off to school and doing the daily stuff as well. Working nights doesn’t work well with daytime chores. I have an elderly mother who is now alone and needs care. The middle-aged years should be called The Looking After Everyone Else Years. Also critters. I have a lot of critters who have chosen to scare me on a daily basis.
Okay, it’s the dinner party question – if you could invite anyone…
Nelson Mandela – I would love to learn how to be as forgiving and gracious as he. I can hold a grudge like an elephant. All my girlfriends who live interstate – I miss them terribly on a daily basis. Joan Rivers would be interesting because of the path she forged for female comedians – she would have some great stories. The guy who plays the lead role in the TV show Kingdom, and John Mayer. For obvious reasons.
Your lifetime dream is to…
Get my kids grown up safe and sound and out in the world as functioning human beings then have as many animals as I’d like on my farm without my husband complaining about it. One of everything. Like Noah, but halved.
If you could improve the world by changing just one thing, what would it be?
I’d make cellulite sexy.
What should we expect for your show at Star Court Theatre?
You can expect two hours of hilarious comedy that will have you laughing so hard your sides will hurt. In fact at our last show someone laughed so hard she vomited. So maybe you can expect to vomit too.
Ellen Briggs and Mandy Nolan join forces for Women Like Us at the Star Court Theatre in Lismore on Saturday 20 June.
Ph 6622 5005 or book via starcourttheatre.com.au. Tickets are $27.20 or $22.20 concession.