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Kitty Flanagan's Smashing - Interview

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Australia boasts the finest comediennes in the world - come on, you know it's true. Aussie audiences are absolutely spoilt for choice, with some of the funniest, wittiest, and funniest comediennes one could ask for. One of them, the irreplaceable, inimitable Kitty Flanagan. Who first appeared on stage in 1994, and never came down (metaphorically speaking). Whether we're talking TV, stage, web, short film, feature film, Kitty has conquered them all (okay okay, she might not have exactly "mastered" webisodes, but I don't think she's minds).

kitty flanagan

Besides recurring TV roles on The Project, Sketch Show, Full Frontal, Have You Been Paying Attention, Utopia, and The Weekly with Charlie Pickering, and stackload more, Kitty's also snatched various awards (including the 2005 New York City Short Film Festival Award for writing/directing Dating Ray Fenwick, for best show at 2010's Adelaide Fringe Festival, and the 2016 Equity Ensemble Award for her role as irritating Rhonda Stewart in ABC's Utopia), plus produced the single 'Middle Aged Man' with sister Penny Flanagan, as well as releasing various DVD's (including award-winning 'Hello Kitty Flanagan').

kitty flanagan

Notwithstanding her prior achievements, Kitty is stepping back up and stepping it up. Wading through her trophy-ridden lounge room, to deliver her highly acclaimed 'Smashing' - a long overdue, highly diligent deconstruction of "lovesongs, sex, algorithms, chimps, clowns and psychics". As part of her national tour, where she recently performed to packed-out audiences in Adelaide, coming to town for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. You can book here, and while you're there, check out the reviews.

As I'm a long time admirer of Kitty's (and also Metallica), I wanted to dig a little, and learn a little more about this globally renowned, incredibly bright and talented powerhouse...

1) When I was reading your biography, I sensed a level of rebelliousness (in a good way). Would you define yourself as an "agitator of social norms"? If not (and probably not), how would you describe your station in the world?

Oh Lord no, I must just come across as brave, in reality, I really worry about upsetting people and don't like conflict at all. If I had to describe myself I'd say I'm a terrible worrier and an over thinker.

2) You're a great orator, with very perceptive observations. Which does being a successful comedian require more of - talking or listening skills?

I think being a successful comedian is about knowing how to spot when people are no longer listening, in other words, how to spot when the audience is losing interest. A lot of people tell stories that include a whole bunch of extraneous detail that just doesn't matter so the listener starts to tune out - good comedians know how to "get there quicker" and keep people listening. So it's three things really, talking, listening and "sensing" how the audience is feeling.

3) Do you ever get bored answering mundane questions?

I get bored answering stupid questions like: 'why aren't women funny?' What a rude question to ask a woman who works in comedy. It's like saying "you're no good at your job, why is that?"

4) A portion of your comedy is based on daily events/experiences. How do you manage to record all your insights? Is it a matter of scribbling down notes while you're driving, or making mental notes, or do you set aside time to reflect?

It really is about scribbling a note to yourself the minute you have that thought. You can't think, oh that's a great idea, I'll remember that. You NEVER remember it later. I usually make notes on my phone now which is really handy. Although months later I'll often go back and read something and think "what the hell does that mean?" but eventually I can usually work it out (and realize, oh, that actually wasn't that funny after all).

5) You've performed in a multitude of countries. What do you miss most when overseas?

My pets. I miss my pets when I'm traveling anywhere. I turn into a real weirdo that hangs out in dog parks even though I don't have a dog. I just want to be around dogs and people who love dogs. Dogs make me so happy.

6) You've been at the forefront of Aussie comedy for a long time, and delivered comedy via a variety of mediums. What does standup offer (both for yourself and audience members) that TV just can't?

The instant feedback. You know immediately if you are being funny or not. Writing a book was probably the toughest of all the things I've done because there's no changing it. You have to finish it and then just hand it over to your audience and cross your fingers. You don't get to watch them read it and go "ooh hang on, you're not laughing at that bit, give it back, I'll add another joke in there." Which is the great thing about stand up - if it's not working you can "fix" it, on the spot, in the moment.

7) Your new show "Smashing" has been widely praised. What is the basis of Smashing? And have you tweaked it to account for Barnaby?

Initially I added a few bits about Barnaby but to be honest, I think we're all a bit over Barnaby now and the thought of a new miniature Barnaby being brought into the world is just too unsettling - but that's the great thing about standup, it can change, so Barnaby was in for a while, now he's out. Art reflecting life.
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Why? Yeah, you know why. You know EXACTLY why.
When: 10th April - 22nd April
Where: The Atheneum Theatre, 188 Collins St
Cost: $44.90
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