Thursday, May 24, 2012
Monday, May 2, 2011
Sunday's show featured Helen Razer, Christa Hughes, Jess McGuire, Pip Lincolne & myself, & all their tales were funny & sweet & sharp & dirty & enthralling, & such a huge pleasure to hear in the 70's ballroom surrounds of the Thornbury theatre. I can't recommend the show more highly - if you get the chance, do yourself that favour, much like Molly Meldrum would want you to.
Since it's been so long since I've written & also since you might not have made it along, I thought I might post my letter here, too. The theme of this months' was: The moment I knew it was time to go home, & while I was rather tempted to write about the BBQ punching incident of Comedy Festival 2007, here's what I wrote instead.
When was little, there weren’t any factory outlets in Nunawading, aside from the Chinese grocery where my mum would buy huge bags of rice to make her special Chicken Chinese dish – which entailed chicken, definitely, and rice, which perhaps was meant to account for the Chinese element. Though less distinguishable in their meaning to the dish were the celery and pineapple. As you can imagine, it was an incredibly multi-cultural suburb, where I was honoured to be the only tall, awkward white girl included in the traditional Cambodian dancing demonstration on Australia Day. I can still speak a little bit of Mandarin and Vietnamese – ee, er, sahn, suh, woo, liou, chi, bah, doh-mah, which means one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, motherfucker. The most exciting school excursion we had at primary school was when we were all herded out onto the school oval while a gunman held some people hostage in the nearby commission flats.
I always felt like an outsider – someone who knew what it was to go without, who longed for my old home where no one cared whether I had the right PE shorts or whether I was in the rowing team or which of the boys at the local boys’ school talked to me on ICQ. I hated my parents for sending me there. I felt like the underdog in a room full of bitches. My empathy for people who are unlucky or disadvantaged is still a huge part of my character. But who am I kidding? I’ve always had an incredibly lucky and privileged life. I’m a white middle class girl with a voice and brain and both arms and legs aren’t painted on. But I still identify with the underdog. And even though the teenage years are all about struggling to find who you are, how to exist and what clothes you can wear to look attractive next to your best friend who has a huge rack while you have a chest blank enough to paint art on, even once you finish all those years and think you’ve finally survived and thrived… where are you then? Where does that leave you?
Back in Nuna, I walked to the shops where my brother used to piggyback me around until it was time to go home and watch Magnum P.I, and past a restaurant where I could see three generations of the same family sitting and having (having is the word - they were certainly not ‘enjoying’) a meal. They all had the same facial features, the same disinterested look on those features and they all sat in a row, pulling the same face into the very same face reflected before them. It looked like a really shitty Saturday night out. A bit further up the street, I picked up a newspaper that was littered on the road and put it into a bin. A woman walking past said “Tut, tut, that’s not a recycling bin, is it?” and I said, “Sorry”, though I immediately wished I’d said “Fuck off”, but finding the honest yet civil point between those two phrases is ever the bane of my existence.
I went past the main road where there used to be a tyre shop and a petrol station and now there’s a giant Harvey Norman and a Bunnings and a McDonalds that’s so big that there’s a well-designed garden set up around the drive-through where the kid who set the dental van on fire used to live. I went into the local fish and chip shop and mid-step into the doorway knew just what it was like for those movie stars as they step into a western saloon and music stops. Everyone, literally, the cook, the lady at the counter, the bored guy reading the local paper and the woman with her kid (and the kid) all stopped to stare at me. Perhaps I was hypersensitive, but I felt so out of place. Not as though all my years away had changed me so much that I obviously no longer belonged, not that, but something else. I could finally see why my mother had been so desperate to get me out of there. She very kindly describes me as “a bit eccentric”, and perhaps becoming a bolshy smart-arse political comedian isn’t necessary what she always dreamed of for me. But my mum always fought to give me the opportunities she never had, and the importance of a good education can’t be underplayed in that. She was never allowed to read any books other than the Bible when she was a girl, and she somehow raised a daughter who, sometimes, when the going is good, is able to write for a living.
Driving home again I wondered if this is what being an adult is about; some kind of final “the grass is not greener” realisation? An end of that need to shine a torch down all those paths not taken? The final moment of clarity when you realise that your hometown is much more Bryan Adams than Bruce Springsteen? But I don’t think so. I came away from that last trip to Nunawading strangely free of that old nostalgia. What I truly miss and had been searching for were not just memories or an actual place where I belong, but the sense of belonging that I felt back then. Of feeling at home without ever having to question where I fit – even as a tall, gawky white girl dancing amongst half a dozen delicate, beautiful Cambodians. And I’m still looking for that. I feel as though I’m on that strange part of the path that’s too far between my origin and my destination to feel anywhere but very far away. Bob Dylan is an incredible artist but also an unbearable wanker. But I think he explains it best. He said once, “I was born very far from where I’m supposed to be, and so, I’m on my way home, you know?” Yeah, Bob, I do. Guess I’ll see you out there.
Love Courteney x
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
My friend Cara & I have taken time out from our hectic ironing schedule to tell Tony Abbott what we think of his efforts to take women back into the 1950's with some neat-o badges & stickers.
You can find out more here: http://ifuckandivote.blogspot.com
You can also get your monthly fix of hot topical & political comedy (if you're in Melbourne, though we'll be touring later in 2010) from http://www.politicalasylum.com.au
Annnnd you can find me (almost) daily talking in 140 characters or less at twitter.com/courteneyh
Plug fest over! Hope you're keeping well.
Monday, July 27, 2009
I want to apologise. I know it’s not like a member of Generation Y not to be boorish, shallow and selfish but it’s time to stand up and take responsibility for what I’ve done. For wreaking economic disaster on people the world over.
The Global Financial Crisis is my fault.
It started small, like all human-created disasters, I suppose. I set up a system where the world became dependent on credit by laminating plastic credit cards during art class at Nunawading Primary School and lending out my pocket money from my Dollarmites account. I used my little orange moneybox to lend billions in unsecured sub-prime loans to people clearly unable to pay them back.
Soon I got into the habit of using the ridiculous interest I paid myself for lavish bonuses, spending up big on chocolate milk and sausage rolls, and unlimited trips to the local park. I even bought myself some roller-skates. Who did I think I was kidding? I was flying too close to the sun on wings made of paper money and dreams. It was never going to last.
Of course, once out of school, the years of success and greed made me aim too high once more. Having a job while getting a degree? Was nothing ever enough for me? I even went so far as to work two jobs while wasting my time over-qualifying myself. I became what is known as a "job hog". But when Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull united in a bi-partisan chorus of "you don’t know how lucky you are, kids", I realised how terribly mistaken I’d been.
I realised that infinitely more worthy Generation X and Baby Boomer workers were still unemployed while I was living high on the hog in a call centre complaints department. I immediately handed in my resignation. I wasn’t worthy of listening to a woman crying about the weather in Mentone. I didn’t deserve to be screamed at for the newsreader sending subliminal messages about spaceships. I hadn’t earned that right. Maybe I never will.
Even writing this now I am taking valuable writing work away for someone older, wiser and doubtless more worthy than myself. And for that, I am sorry. But I write not to ask for your forgiveness, but to acknowledge the pain I’ve caused. All of this is my fault -- the whole stinking lot of it. Generation Y did this to you. You suffer because of us. Not just the GFC but climate change, too. Global warming wouldn’t even exist if my generation weren’t breathing so much air all the time. One might say the world would be a better place if we’d never been born at all.
We have failed you. And it is a burden we will carry -- along with a dying planet, an aging population and degrading generational stereotyping - for the rest of our selfish, useless lives.
This article first appeared in Crikey.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
I wrote this piece about news comedy today & thought you might like to read it.
With much fanfare, The 7pm Project finally arrived last night, the latest in a series of news-based comedy shows that have been popping up on Australian screens in the last few years. Purporting to be “…not a satirical newscast in the style of Jon Stewart’s Daily Show, but a TV show joining in the conversations going on in living rooms around the country”, it seeks to engage younger viewers who have grown up with a 24/7 news cycle and short attention span. News-based comedy seems an ideal template for the Twitter generation, but it’s also a tricky art to nail in a country where our TV comedy tradition is more firmly based in sketch than news or satire.
The shift toward news comedy hybrids in Australia has given us shows such as The Chaser’s War on Everything, the revamped Good News Week and Newstopia.
Ian Simmons, the head writer for Good News Week (both incarnations) tells Crikey there’s a good reason for this shift towards the topical.
“For a start, it’s relatively cheap to make. Your source materials are newspapers and unlike a sketch or sitcom, you don’t have to pay for expensive wardrobe, sets and locations. You just need the right five people in front so you can watch them find out things.”
As a rule, Australians seem to prefer relatable faces messing about with the news to hard-hitting satire. It’s a strange paradox that we judge Americans as backward in their sense of irony when it is they who currently lead the field in satirical, topical comedy with shows such as The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report. Simmons believes it’s a numbers thing.
“America has 280 odd million people and 50 states. There is an enormous amount of people generating news and an enormous amount of things to talk about. Here, there’s only just enough news, weirdness and stupidity for about an hour a week.”
It’s also a cultural thing. Australian TV comedy is deeply steeped in sketch and character-based acts. From Barry McKenzie to Norman Gunston, Dame Edna to Kath and Kim, our characters are the best-known parts of our comedic tradition. Even the two men who have continued to hold the flag for satire for decades, John Clarke and Brian Dawe, do so in the guise of characters in either sketch or sitcom form. It seems to be what Australians are most comfortable watching. And when Australians are uncomfortable, you can be sure that you’ll hear about it.
When The Chaser team was roundly castigated for their “Make A Realistic Wish Foundation” sketch it revealed another reason why satire rarely makes the grade in Australia.
“There’s almost a part of people that wants to be outraged,” says Simmons. “That sketch was two minutes in half an hour. People being outraged the next day, sure, but it went on for weeks.”
Simmons believes it’s partially attributable to our uncertain times.
“So much is out of our control — the war in Afghanistan, the GFC, Swine flu, they all affect us in different ways. This is a way for people to claw back some control in their lives, to express their anger and their outrage and to make them feel good about themselves.”
Which leads us back to the numbers thing — because of our relatively small population, vocal and indignant wowsers receive a greater share of voice than they would in countries like the US, where they can turn over and watch something else.
But the good news is that we can laugh about the news again. Post-September 11 there was a dearth of news comedy that lasted until not long ago — roughly around the time K-Rudd dispensed with the J-Ho. Twitter and social networking sites mean people are more personally engaged in the news cycle and can connect not just with the stories but with people involved in stories as they happen, which should put paid to the notion that Gen Y was always going to be zoned out in front of the Play Station ignoring the world.
News comedy in Australia might not be The Daily Show we wish it were, but if we can dispense with the wowserism and give it some backbone, we may see some decent satire yet.This article first appeared on Crikey
Friday, April 17, 2009
I apologise for my extended absence but I really have spent the past two months stressing about, then writing & then performing my Melbourne International Comedy Festival Show, 'Miss Right'. (I've also been reading 'Against The Day' by Thomas Pynchon but a girl also needs her personal time).
To be quite honest, I'm really proud of 'Miss Right' - it's the best show I've ever done by a long shot, it's fun to perform & even after 15 performances I'm still not tired of doing it (which is bloody rare). Other people who have seen it say they love it, but they would say that to my face because they are not solidly evil, so make of that what you will.
It's about my transition from post-Howard/Bush unemployed left wing comedian to a hard-edged Right Wing policy maker with concurrent designs on being an obedient housewife. There's Obama talk, the Credit crunch, the mortgage crisis, Alco-Pops tax & quite the rant against the molly-coddling nanny state we seem to inhabit. If you want to find out more, here's a link to the Comedy at Trades website where you can read my blurb, look at my picture & even buy tickets. I would give you a link to a review but I've not had the Age come (yet, theoretically) & I'm waiting on Chortle & the Pun to post theirs (they are the only reviewers I really trust for both my work & anyone elses, & even then, BYO grain of salt & be yourself, be yourself! etc)
There is only one week to go! I will never be doing this show again so it genuinely is your only chance to see me do this show before I go & get an office job (which you're welcome to come & see for however long that takes but I can guarantee that will be much less entertaining).
Other shows which seem brilliant are Philip Escoffey's Six Impossible Things Before Dinner, Sarah Bennetto is Lucky & Deborah Frances-White's How to Become An Overnight Celebrity. Of course I'm also doing the Anarchist Guild Social Committee Best Of, our last show being this Sunday 19th April, which is a laugh & a half & really lovely silly fun. Chortle reckoned it was alright, too.
I hope to see you there. Once it's all over (& I've had a week to sleep it off), I'll be back blogging like nobody's business. Hooray.
Thanks for your time. Hope you're really very good indeed. xx