Interview with Melbourne Comedian Sunanda, who performs stand-up and sketch comedy with characters. Sundanda performed a Melbourne Fringe show (called How Gay Am I?) which she will also bring to 2020’s Midsumma festival. Sunanda is third-generation Indian-Thai, she grew up in Bangkok and attended an international school. She studied and worked in the US, then headed back to Bangkok before making the move to Melbourne in mid-2019.
We discuss: managing mental health with comedy, Sunanda finding out accidentally that she was adopted when she was 9, wondering who she could have been and her gratitude for the opportunities she has been afforded, being queer and what this means to Sunanda, friends knowing Sunanda was gay before she did, sexual repression and self-medicating while growing up, the importance of pride, the experience of coming out to her family, the philosophy to treat yourself as you would treat your best friend (ie, be kind to yourself), rolling with the punches, moving internationally (twice!) with help from the Marie Kondo approach, checking negative thought patterns and the importance of communication, the pros and cons of early retirement, Sunanda’s super power, practicing gratitude, nature vs nurture, and Sunanda’s message to not be afraid of seeking help if you are unwell or just need an outside perspective.
Interview with Melbourne Radio Presenter, DJ, Artist and Comedian Eva Lubulwa. Eva started on radio 2 years ago and found her way onto Triple R (102.7FM). Tune in to hear her show Highly Melanated on Mondays from 10pm to Midnight. Eva also started stand-up comedy this year and performed in 2 shows in Melbourne Fringe: a show with all-African performers called Laughs with Akwasi, and an all-female show called Pick a Dick.
We discuss: Eva’s Ugandan-Australian heritage, the challenge of finding appropriate support for mental health issues and the high price we pay for good mental health, having ADD and wanting to manage it without medication, bouts with an eating disorder, expressing her experiences of racism on stage, how racism has affected her in every way, growing up in Canberra, marrying at a young age, travelling from Australia to Europe without flying and the racism she experienced around the world, her healing time living in Brussels, learning about race in retrospect and how she had subconsciously conformed in her childhood, the danger of assimilation, different levels of mental illness, the one decision her husband made that led to Eva’s decision to end the marriage, Eva’s adopted children and her desire to have Ugandan babies, the notion that some aspects of mental health can be cured by community, the love for her kids helping to manage her mental health, helpful vs unhelpful coping mechanisms, Eva’s superpower, the freedom of expanding into our full selves, and Eva’s message that healing can come in surprising forms so keep looking for things that make your heart sing and follow them.
Interview with Melbourne Comedian Lucy Best, who has been performing comedy for 2 years. Lucy was a 2019 RAW finalist and also performed a show this year with Comedian Jaxson Garni. The show is called Keep the Change which is all about embracing change. Lucy is also a writer, artist, photographer, director musician, and an environmental and human rights activist.
We discuss: Lucy’s unconventional upbringing, her Dad’s appellation and being the daughter of a Lord, experiencing anxiety and depression while growing up, Lucy’s positive experiences with medication, counselling and mindfulness, the importance of a good night’s sleep and finding the funny, the court jester role in society, where Lucy’s thoughts go when she has a bad day, Lucy’s marriage breakdown and subsequent transformation, the Writing Is Therapy course at the School of Life, Lucy’s conscious decision to move on, the nature of grief and loss, Ducks for Detainees and Lucy’s trip to Canberra, the Tarot Card experience and phoenix mythology, the physical and emotional impacts of alcohol, a mother’s intuition and knowing her children better than medical professionals, the daily roses and thorns activity, stories behind her kids’ names, Lucy’ super power, reframing “Lucy Quite Good” to “Lucy Does Her Best”, and Lucy’s message to embrace change and not be afraid to make change when it is needed.
Interview with the delightful Isabella Valette, who sings, acts, dances, improvises and more! Isabella started out with a degree in Musical Theatre in the UK, performed a sketch show at Edinburgh Fringe and then started writing one-woman shows. Isabella is part of the Melbourne Impro group Impromptunes, who amazingly improvise one-hour musicals. She is also part of The Big HOO-HAA! who perform shorter-form improvised shows. In the past year Isabella has started stand-up comedy, including a show in 2019’s MICF and Melbourne Fringe called How Far I’ll Go, about her life as a kid’s entertainer. And if you’re after more podcasts with Isabella, you can catch her on the Impromptunes Podcast and Off with the Fairies.
We discuss: The overlap between Impro and Counselling skills, the impact of capitalism and consumerism on mental health, views on modern romantic consumerism, the philosophy that life is a package of experiences, close family and friend connections, being mindful of comparisons and living up to social milestones, the gift and curse of self-awareness and knowledge that we are going to die, the dangers of mimicking emotional and financial behaviours from the media, the benefits of teaching independent and practical living skills at school, domestic violence and the book See What You Made Me Do by Jess Hill, the higher level of living by appreciating others’ success and building each other up by exchanging positive energy, The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield, Ariana Grande’s message that money and fame do not equate to happiness, Keanu Reeves’ down-to-earth approach to life, the importance of kindness and simplicity, Isabella’s super power, appreciation for the unconditional love and support from her parents, Isabella’s love of Queer Eye, the importance of spreading kindness, and Isabella’s message that you can change the game by changing what you value.
Interview with Nikki Viveca who has been a performer for many years, and moved into improv about 6 years ago, then officially began stand-up comedy with a solo show in 2016. She is also well-versed in acting, burlesque and other arts. Nikki has recently completed a season of her show Wasp Movie (to great success!) at Melbourne Fringe. Nikki has some exciting new shows coming up, including Cake Bride which is a look at marriage from a queer perspective, and ACEtravaganza which is a variety act show with asexual artists at Midsumma Festival.
We discuss: Coming out as asexual in her first comedy show (Asexual Healing), representing 2 letters in the LGBTQIA alphabet, becoming a comedy critic to justify her comedy habit, gaining insight into other people’s brains via comedy, the Wasp Situation and Nikki’s emotional responses, reflections on the difficulty of coming out as transsexual, exploring the varied definitions of asexuality and what it means to Nikki, admiration of the Spice Girls, Nikki’s super power, the sad ending to the wasp story, and Nikki’s message about the importance of authenticity and humans taking a lesson from wasps about sticking together in solidarity through tough times.
Interview with Melbourne Comedian Catherine McClintock. Catherine is Canadian and has previously lived in Tasmania for 10 years, which is where she started performing comedy. She also has experience in acting, and film and television screen writing. Catherine first performed stand-up in the RAW Comedy competition, and smashed her solo show at Melbourne Fringe this year, which was titled Please and Thank Yous.
We discuss: The spreadsheet approach to the MICF, being an “extreme empath”, losing her Mum at a young age, being adopted and dealing with grief, experiences with depression and anxiety, support from a Pastor and Therapists, the importance of taking care of your mind AND your body, having a chronic autoimmune disease called Dermatomyositis, being diagnosed while still at university, the balancing act of nursing, motherhood and comedy, reflecting on her mortality and living life to the full, the challenge of being a people pleaser, dealing with “emotional vampires”, depersonalising by looking at the bigger picture and the other variables, the benefits of CBT, the book Change Your Thinking by Sarah Edelman, My Favorite Murder podcast, Catherine’s super power and her message of being kind to yourself and other people.
Interview with Melbourne Comedian Caili Christian, who is back for round 2 after her first MAA appearance in March 2016. Caili has been keeping busy, performing 4 MICF shows in the past few years, co-establishing the Comedy Women’s Association in Melbourne (see their Facebook page for more info) and running comedy rooms.
We discuss: Creating a comedy space for female-identifying and non-binary people, the #MeToo movement and the more balanced nature of line-ups in recent times, comedy becoming Caili’s world and community, comedians coming from different walks of life and sharing the stage in common, managing anxiety with pacing and relaxation, curbing social media usage for self-care, being mindful of comparisons, adopting the Mum Role and striving to make comedy a better space, encouraging people to avoid punching down and to craft better jokes, reputations vs sense of safety, remembering Eurydice Dixon and the shockwaves through the community, the polarity between men and women’s views on safety, the pain of facing the victim-blaming mentality, the charity Awkward Giraffe, the change in how the media report things, unhealthy gender stereotypes, Triple M’s No Talk Day, enjoying Steph Tisdell and Dave Woodhead on Triple J Breakfast for NAIDOC Week, the seemingly-impossible becoming reality in world politics, Plan It Change 10, lack of funding for mental health, an update on Caili’s super powers, and the brilliant Light the Way Home project to help female, trans, non-binary or other vulnerable performers get a lift home after comedy gigs (you can donate at: https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/lightthewayhome).
Interview with Musician, Counsellor and ACT Practitioner Deborah Hart, who also facilitates workshops and teaches music. Deb has many fine strings to her bow and has a lot to share about her career path and mental health journey.
We discuss: longing to call herself a Musician while growing up, panic attacks while studying, aspiring to be like (Music Educator and Conductor) Richard Gill, the challenge of nerves in auditions, working in an Orchestra in 1995, seeing a Psychologist and introduction to ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy), the prevalence of performance anxiety, the function of a music audition, fear of public speaking, “a lone monkey is a dead monkey”, Noticing and Labelling, flight/fight/freeze/fawn, defining what it means to be a “Good Musician” and teasing out values, burning out and choosing a new career, common humanity, developing skill and getting out of your own way, the I Don’t Sing Workshop, being wired to work together as a tribe, Susan West quote about the more you teach children music the less they want to do it, the Quicksand Analogy, the values behind the free gig in an aged care home, the philosophy that we’re all in this human soup together, the prevalence of Imposter Syndrome, British Psychologist Paul Gilbert and the importance of self-compassion, Kelly Wilson and treating people like a sunset not a maths problem, music for connection, Deborah’s sad and sweet super power, reflecting on values, and Deb’s message to turn towards gratitude.
Bonus interview (at 1:04:08) with MAA Host, Psychologist and Comedy-Lover Shae: starting the podcast following Robin William’s death in 2014 (not 2013) and wanting to support comedians, approaching the first podcast guest, Entertainment Assist, the importance of sharing and communicating about mental health, the unique stories people have shared along the way, observations about comedy, the vulnerability of opening up and sharing thoughts and feelings, the importance of support networks, praise for Hannah Gadsby, Shae's dream podcast guest, feedback from listeners and wanting to make a difference.
Interview with Perth-born Melbourne-based Comedian Anna Piper Scott, who has been performing comedy for about 10 years now. Anna and her co-star Sophie Joske were nominated for the Golden Gibbo in 2018 for their MICF show Almost Lesbians.
We discuss: similarities and differences of the Perth and Melbourne comedy scenes, the challenge of coming out as Trans with the lack of Trans voices in the media and not knowing how she might be received, the difficulties of finding therapy, some benefits of Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), taking meds when you need and want them, awareness that there is no one-size-fits-all path for coming out, the challenge of finding a Trans-specialising GP in Melbourne, the strong support from her network of friends, a different view of childhood events after coming out, Trans-preferred language, the double-edged sword of gender stereotypes, IDAHOBIT and Trans Visibility Day, being in a great mental space from performing comedy and having a wonderful support network, actively addressing transphobic people who dead-name or misgender or use the T-word, being strong and true to herself, Nelly Thomas’ books: Some Girls and Some Boys, Anna’s super power, Definitions and language: Cis means within and Trans means across, and Anna’s message to explore your gender.