Interview with Brisbane Improviser and Mindfulness Coach Jeremy West. Jeremy performs improvisation with Big Fork Theatre and ImproMafia. Check out some of Big Fork Theatre’s Improv shows on You Tube. Jeremy is also a Mindfulness Coach and teaches people skills around living in the present moment.
Recording in the midst of Melbourne’s Stage 4 lockdown (on 22 August), we discuss: The benefits of mindfulness and living in the present moment, The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris, acting in accordance with your values, Jeremy’s love of improvisation, mindfulness and active listening being involved in improv, Jeremy's experience of Covid in Brisbane/QLD, the importance of daily practice of mindfulness, commitment to physical and mental exercises, misconceptions about mindfulness, the human need for physical contact, Jeremy’s super power and his message that in the present moment there is rarely a problem.
Interview with Melbourne Comedian Alex Ward, who has been performing comedy for 7 years. You can find some of Alex’s great work on You Tube, including clips from Comedy Up Late and Tonightly with Tom Ballard. Alex has a podcast with Luka Muller called “Going Hypo” where they explore fun hypothetical situations.
We discuss: The connection between physical and mental health, views on the pandemic, normalising that it’s okay to feel down because it’s almost impossible not to, acknowledging the lack of control, the importance of allowing yourself to feel your feelings, being mindful not to compare or minimise your experiences, the fortune of recently moving in with a friend and creating a mini family, lack of motivation for creative ventures, catching up on great/terrible Netflix shows for escapism like the Hockey Girls, the benefits of exercise and running if you persist with it, the importance of warming up first, the joy of walking the dogs, Alex’s love of cooking and gardening, the intensity of the first 2 weeks of lockdown in March, enjoyment from gaining her nights back and not missing comedy (but missing seeing friends), online gigs that were filmed when restrictions eased for the few weeks before stage 4, King Canyon live streams, the hypothetical of would you rather toes for fingers or fingers for toes?, missing her family, Alex’s great Aunty recently turning 100, Alex’s super power and her message to stay strong, wear a mask and take things day by day.
Interview with the delightful Gillian Cosgriff, who has been performing comedy for 10 years. Gill has recently been performing in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at the Princess Theatre in Melbourne, although the show is currently on lockdown hiatus. Gill has a background in cabaret, comedy, and music theatre.
We discuss: writing songs on planes, the vacuum analogy of lockdown, the challenge of having big gaps in between work, tying her identity to her occupation, the philosophy of “a bad day is a good story”, reharnessing your own narrative through comedy, knowing the ingredients to the recipe for self-care in tough times but not doing them out of worry she will not feel better, lockdown affording her the time and space for self-care, the twilight zone of waiting for Covid test results, appreciating the slower pace of lockdown, the shock of the first 2 weeks of Melbourne lockdown in March 2020, the good fortune of being able to find work, being “show fit” and becoming a genuine fan of exercise, the rollercoaster of lockdown and anticipation of Stage 4, the high expectations of the first lockdown, living with uncertainty and the extremes of emotions, the "What If" thoughts about Covid, tour life being preparation for lockdown, creative online social activities, the mental health benefits of pets, self-care and putting on your own mask before helping someone else, the simple pleasure of making a great cup of tea and having the time to drink it, the importance of not making your (theatre) job your whole life, the heartening hope that shows will return to Victoria, the emotional response of bargaining and wishing we had tougher restrictions earlier on, and the power of hindsight, lockdown fatigue, the class inequalities highlighted by the pandemic, fatigue from the news cycle, the security of being able to proactively seek therapy when engaged in full-time work, the benefits of CBT and thought-cataloguing to help maintain perspective, Gill’s super power, and Gill’s message to be kind, follow the rules and enjoy some sunshine.
Interview with Melbourne Producer and ex-Comedian Sam Petersen. Sam recently released a documentary called Lady O’Loughlin about Comedian Fiona O’Loughlin, and he also has a weekly podcast called Confessions of the Idiots. Sam particularly enjoys having conversations about mental health and getting people to talk more about how they are feeling. Big thanks to Sam for allowing us to record in his studio for the first face-to-face MAA recording in a while.
We discuss: Everyone having a battle with something that you don’t know about, using comedy and then therapy to assist his own mental health, issues with alcohol and being a workaholic, the danger of bottling things up vs the benefits of talking about issues, recognising panic attacks as a sign to take time out for self-care, accessing bulk-billed counselling via Medicare, the importance of finding a supportive friendship group to share with, the pressure-cooker analogy of mental health, the impact of the pandemic and the resurgence of communication by telephone, Sam’s views on the best and worst elements about the lockdown, the positive and negative effects of the pandemic on social media, Sam’s love of swimming, the benefits of breathing exercises, relaxation music like the Teskey Brothers, breathing exercise techniques, Relax Lite and Calm apps, Sam’s super power, how telling people things they might not want to hear can be a form of kindness, and Sam’s message to reach out and seek help if you need it.
Interview with Lauren Bok, who has been performing comedy for 9 years. Lauren comes from a theatre background and loves adding puns, mime, burlesque and other fun/versatile skills to her shows. Lauren also runs a comedy workshop program called Gaggle, which is for women and non-binary people because she is very committed to finding more diverse voices for the stage. The next workshop will be at the Wit Incorporated Theatre Company on Sunday 26th July. Lauren and her comedian friend Claire Sullivan host a podcast called Elementary Springfield. Claire did not have access to the Simpsons growing up, so the pair watch and review " golden era" Simpsons episodes to give Claire a proper, cromulent education. Highly recommended listening!
We discuss: The benefits of doing a Mental Health First Aid course, the importance of listening non-judgmentally, the impact of the MICF cancellation, cleaning the house = cleaning the mind, the immense satisfaction that can be gained from gardening, views on productivity, the philosophy of taking each day as it comes, the strong connection that comes with spending more time with fewer people, the power of gratitude, lessons about balance from lockdown, spontaneous tattoos, giving others permission to do the things that doubt is holding them back from, Lauren coping with lockdown with solid support, care and respect from those around her, the benefits of developing a healthy routine of good nutrition and exercise, the simple but critical tip to drink more water, Lauren’s super power of having an excellent phone manner, and Lauren’s message to listen without judgment.
Interview with Sri Lankan-born Melbourne-based Comedian Dilruk Jayasinha, who has performed anecdotal and self-reflective comedy all around Australia and the world since 2010. Dil has been on the tv shows such as Utopia and Have Yoi Been Paying Attention?, he won a Logie in 2018 for Most Popular New Talent, he has an awesome podcast with fellow Comedian Ben Lomas called Fit Bet, and currently you can catch Dil’s comedy special on Amazon Prime called Bundle of Joy. Dil's 2020 show Victorious Lion will hopefully resume later in the year (check www.comedy.com.au for updates). Dil very kindly spent some time on this interview a couple of weeks prior to the lockdown.
We discuss: the benefits of seeing a mental health professional, the importance of giving therapy a fair crack and having a good fit with your therapist, Shae’s own techniques for managing work as a Psychologist, setting boundaries between work and personal life, the benefits of cutting down on multi-tasking, the book Atomic Habits by James Clear, unconditional love for his niece, the Trello app for organising your life, Dil’s thoughts on quitting alcohol and the pain-avoidance technique of staying sober, picking somewhere to start and gradually increasing his pace to help him (literally) run a marathon, being in touch with your values to assist with achieving goals, gratitude and bigger picture thinking, using jealousy constructively, the Elton John analogy of responding rather than reacting, Dil’s super power, the problem when the “default is fault”, the book Useful Beliefs by Chris Helder, and Dil’s message to realise that you may have things better than you have told yourself.
Interview with Melbourne-based Comedian and Comedy Writer Greg Fideler, who is originally from the United States and moved to Australia in 2017. Greg has some great credits including writing for the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, being a Contributing Writer for the Late Show with David Letterman, and writing jokes for the Weekend Updates segment of Saturday Night Live, Nickelodeon and Spike TV. Greg also worked on US show The Soup for 11 years – which is a clip show hosted by Joel McHale. Greg now lives in Melbourne and was due to perform at MICF in 2020 (until Corona).
We discuss: the challenge of successfully writing and performing comedy in 2 different countries, exposure to culture to help understand it, the importance of having a plan for your mental health to assist with managing it, everything changing in Greg’s life after he moved to Australia in 2017, the challenge of trying to do so many big things at once, the seemingly small but challenging factors of daily life for anyone from outside of Australia, the difficulty of finding work, the importance of routine and creating/maintaining social connections, the benefits of therapy, the importance of managing expectations, Angel cards revealing patience, integrity and purification, the catch-22 that it’s easier to be grateful and positive when things are going well, views on anti-depressant medication, issues with alcohol, having a pancreatitis attack, the importance of maintaining perspective, Greg’s super power and the Dodge Charger story, and Greg’s message to take care of yourself and have a plan.
Interview with Melbourne-based Actor and Filmmaker Ben Steel, who has worked in the entertainment industry his whole life, and most recently completed a 3.5 year journey of creating a brilliant documentary called The Show Must Go On. The documentary was released late last year and is a must-see about mental health and wellbeing in the entertainment industry. Catch it on ABC iView until 4 July 2020. Ben has also worked around the world both in front of and behind the camera, and has many directing and acting credits to his name.
We discuss: the elevated statistics in regard to mental health challenges in the entertainment industry, Ben’s personal struggles with mental health, society's lapse in teaching psychological wellbeing, experiencing an identity crisis, the instability of freelance and contract work, unhelpful vs helpful coping strategies, pursuing happiness vs pursuing wholeness, the mind-shift that it can be in some ways a gift to experience depression, the importance of self-kindness, issues with external validation, the importance of being able to maintain perspective, taking control of the things that are in your control, the book Soul Shifts by Barbara De Angelis, the impact of the suicide of Ben’s acting mentor while making the documentary, the need to keep taking small steps and reach out for support, the book Living with a Creative Mind by Julie and Jeffrey Crabtree, reconnecting with surfing, the value in seeking or re-engaging with hobbies and interests, following your own personal take on meditation, the concept of minute meditations, Ben’s super power, and Ben’s message that you are not alone and there is help, support and love for you no matter who or where you are in your life, and that there will always be a way through.
Interview with Melbourne Comedian Katrina Fleming, who has a background in musical theatre and cabaret. Katrina's comedic style includes story-telling journeys and situational comedy, and she also performs improv musicals with the Conspiracy Improv Group. Katrina and Caili Christian's 2020 MICF show Queenagers, which delves into the topic of what it’s like to be middle-aged women, has been postponed due to the Corona Virus Pandemic (aka the Zombie Apocalypse) and will hopefully open later in the year at the Butterfly Club.
We discuss: the wonderfully supportive Comedy Women’s Association, the view that laughter is the best medicine, Katrina’s car accident and subsequent experiences, the Richards Trauma Process, Katrina’s trauma theory, the nature of humans to be overly critical of themselves yet be caring and supportive to anyone else, Katrina’s super power and Katrina’s message about the importance of being kind to yourself.
For anyone interested in the therapy process Katrina has experienced, Katrina recommends Dr Helen Mursell in St Kilda.
Interview with Melbourne Comedian Jess Pearman, who has been performing comedy for 3.5 years. Jess was due to perform a coupe of shows at MICF, but as you have probably heard, the festival has been cancelled due to the pandemic situation with Corona Virus.*
We discuss: The double-edged sword of comedy combined with mental health, substance abuse in comedy, maintaining mental health by taking ownership and being courageous enough to ask people around you, having a detox/retox lifestyle, self-kindness and reflecting on the bigger picture, a booked called The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, enjoyment of roasting, the pitfalls of putting loyalty before honesty in friendships, putting your ego aside to ask “are you okay?”, being a grateful and happy person, the challenge of finding accurate sources of information, reflections on Feminism, being a “bad person” vs “behaving badly”, the article about neurodiversity and people having/lacking an internal monologue, the benefits of journaling, the maintenance involved in having good mental health, self-care activities like yoga, meditation and good nutrition, alcohol is not good/bad/otherwise, acknowledging and validating negative thinking patterns, writing to help with being mindful and present, experiencing Ayahuasca, motivating herself with booking shows and having writing deadlines, Jess’ super power, history of fronting rock bands, the book The Intuitive Way by Penney Peirce, "Aha Moments" that occur when you allow yourself to just be, and Jess’ message to keep the mirror on yourself and continue to self-analyse and reflect.
*This episode was recorded pre-pandemic and before the MICF was cancelled.
Interview with Melbourne Comedian and Actor Bev Killick, who has been performing for 20 years, having often toughed it out over the years as the only woman on the line-up. Bev has proven her mettle as a Comedian and loves her work. She also does television and film acting work, as well as voiceover work and comedy on cruise ships. Bev is a Mentor to up-and-coming female comedians. Go and catch Bev’s 2020 MICF show Don’t Tell Tony at the Powder Room on 30 Mar, 6 & 13 Apr.
We discuss: Op-shopping to manage anxiety, the joys of working on cruise ships for a number of years, anxiety and depression and grief, family mental health issues, Bev being a champion advocate and her dislike for stigma, schizophrenia meaning “disorganised mind”, the importance of love, understanding and creating safety, fear blocking empathy in people, Bev’s story of helping a stranger who needed support, having the time, energy and know-how to help someone experiencing psychosis, sustaining resilience via comedy, craft and upcycling, the unhelpful mix of alcohol and anti-depressants, being mindful of drinking habits, the Ladies of Laughter roadshow, Bev’s love of napping and her skill in finding little nooks to nap, lessons about drugs and alcohol, remembering that perfect lives do not exist, the importance of a good social support network, a story of being a first responder, the challenge of finding accommodation with a mental health issue, Bev’s super power, and Bev’s message to talk about mental health, ask for help and remembering that there are many ways to receive help.
Interview with the wonderful Melbourne Comedian Liza Dezfouli, who is on a mission to challenge ageism and sexism with her comedy. Liza is involved with a theatre ensemble featuring older women, who perform a show called Unhoused, which references some of the cast’s genuine experiences of homelessness.
We discuss: The invisibility of older women in society, the experience of long-term depression and techniques to manage it, the importance of reminding herself that the situation always changes, treating mental illness like the flu: give yourself time and space to go to bed, rest and absolve yourself of the responsibility of engaging with the world for a while, the benefits of gardening, the relentless positive images from modern society that falsely imply people’s lives are perfect and how this can wear us down, giving her disordered/depressed thoughts a voice by writing them down, challenging and refuting negative thoughts, the importance of finding a way to not be threatened by negative emotions, the power of gratitude, being gentle and kind to yourself, the shame of showing depressed moods and the difficulty of authenticity and showing people all aspects of yourself, the simplicity and power of comedy and laughter, advice Liza received about recalling the intensity of a great belly laugh for healing, being open to alternative therapies, The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris, the notion of dead person’s goals, it being okay to be grotty and unproductive at times, Liza’s super power, the stages of change model in relation to behaviour, and Liza’s message for women to be good to each other and support the sisterhood.
Interview with Melbourne-based Comedian Aurelia St Clair, who started comedy around the time of the 2017 RAW competition, where she reached state level and continued from there. Aurelia also began Improv around end of 2018 (mostly at the Improv Conspiracy Theatre). Aurelia has performed at MICF, and in 2020 has her first solo show called Woke, running from 24 Mar to 5 Apr @ 7.10pm at the Pilgrim Bar.
We discuss: Aurelia’s German-Cameroonian background, sharing about her eating disorder on social media, the challenge of eating patterns around Christmas time, negative side effects of eating disorders, tapping into the joy of eating, food being fuel and a way to nourish our bodies, the problems with pro-eating-disorder forums, losing her Mum as a teenager, Aurelia’s experience of grief, the culture change of moving from Germany to Bolivia, the lack of diversity in her German hometown, moving again until settling in Australia in 2014, finding herself and the things she enjoys in life, the power of increasing awareness about eating disorders, body-positive messages from the Nutrition Guru & the Chef and the Kitchen Coach, actively limiting exposure to negative messages on social media, self-care practices, the importance of nurturing and growing friendships, Aurelia’s super power, the value in setting meaningful goals, and Aurelia’s message to trust and confide in your friends.
Interview with Melbourne Comedian Bron Lewis who is relatively new to comedy (she’s 6 months in) and loves the story-telling format. Bron started performing at the Moth (a program that hosts live storytelling events in cities around the world) and then transferred over to comedy after receiving encouragement from Moth Host Cal Wilson.
We discuss: the assuredness that comes with starting comedy in her 30s, becoming unexpectedly pregnant early in her relationship, the Impossible Baby and a second baby following soon after, becoming housebound with anxiety, the impact of post-natal depression and anxiety, the solace of her relationship, becoming addicted to CrossFit, the benefits of ageing and time, the struggle of feeling judged, Bron’s immeasurable love for her kids, breaking away from the identity of being “only” a Mum or pregnant person, seeing a psychologist once the girls were at an age where they were settled, taking long service leave from her day job to pursue comedy, changing the lack of diversity in the comedy scene, the advice that you don’t have to love situations to survive them, the perils of social media, acting in accordance with your values, being resilient and brave, Bron’s super power, newfound respect for her mother, and Bron’s messages of appreciating the stability of age and not to sweat the small stuff.
Interview with Bendigo Comedian Luke Morris, who is a returning guest (his first MAA interview was #74 from February 2018). In 2018 Luke was in the RAW competition and performed The Wine Science Show at MICF, and in 2019 he performed the show Love, Sweat and Science. He has also been involved in producing the Bendigo Comedy Festival in October, two years of the Movember Comedy Fundraiser in Bendigo, and the Women of Wit series in Bendigo, which is the only regular all-woman line-up in regional Victoria. In 2020 Luke will be bringing a new and exciting Virtual Reality Comedy experience to Adelaide Fringe and MICF.
We discuss: the importance of valuing his own time, discovering the joys of Netflix, deferring his psychology studies to pursue the VR Comedy project, Luke’s revelation that you do not need to keep studying for the sake of the qualification only, positive and negative motivation from having comedy festival deadlines and keeping it all in perspective, appreciating the benefits of comedy on the mental health of audiences, Luke’s new podcast called What To Do After You Die which explores the taboo of talking about death, spiders and ticks and ladybugs, Luke’s super power and the catharsis of the Love Sweat and Science show, and Luke’s message to not listen to other people’s negative messages and be selective about advice you take on board.