As the Sydney Comedy Festival ramps across the city there is an abundance of fantastic local talent performing all around town. Unsurprisingly a number of these acts call the Inner West home, so we at the Inner West Independent decided to highlight and support these acts so that the comedy community continues to grow and develop in our region.
After receiving rave reviews at the Sydney Fringe festival, Ashlee Brown is bringing her hilarious stand up debut to the Sydney Comedy Festival! This audacious youngster’s show Millennial Fatigue tackles dating, first jobs and self-doubt as Brown attempts to unpack what it means to be a successful young person in an age where everything’s photoshopped.
With this being her debut performance at a major festival Brown said she is “honoured to be here as things slowly return to the way they were” so that she can once again “spread laughter”. Coming off the year that we’ve had Brown says she also feels “so strange” about this particular show.
“I haven’t performed in over a year now and it’s been so freaking relaxing,” Brown said, before elaborating further. “Comedy has always been a massive double-edged sword for me because of my anxiety around performing, so having the time off to re-evaluate my priorities has been really important to me. I think I’m at a place now where there’s so much else going on in my life that I can see comedy as a space for me to have fun and let loose.”
Which is perhaps something we all need now.
When asked about the importance of the Inner West on her comedy development Brown said the region has been “super important.”
“I moved to Sydney from Perth almost three years ago now and I feel like the people I’ve met and the venues I’ve performed at have totally given me the chance to develop as an artist. I’m definitely not the comedian I was when I first landed here.”
In terms of recommendations Brown was quick to highlight another rising star in Jenny Tian. “She’s a lovely human being and debuting her first ever hour. So, if you see one person this festival, make sure it’s her!”
Throughout his comedy career Jeeves Verma has made it a goal of his to write at least one new show per year, and perform three different shows across the festival calendar. So when COVID hit last year that was the first time in his career that he was unable to achieve these goals, which was both disappointing but motivating.
“It was nice to have a year off, to be honest, but now I’m itching to get back behind the mic!”
With that in mind Verma says he is “quietly confident” ahead of his Sydney Comedy Festival performances, “in the same way every uncle feels at a pool party when someone brings a limbo stick. Some say this is unjustified confidence, I say “hold my beer.”
In regards to the Inner West’s influence Verma explained that it is his “home and source of inspiration.”
“Inner Westies understand me. We have the same lefty values. The Inner West represents a culture so different to the conservative one I was raised in, and a lot of my comedy comes from comparing the two.”
When it comes to his show fans should be expecting some “belly laughs, new ideas and a changed perspective on Keep Cups!”
Once we got onto the subject of comedian recommendations Verma was bursting at the seams with suggestions, from Steen Raskopoulos to Carlo Ritchie to Chelsea Zeller. Ultimately though he simply said, “See EVERYBODY!!”
In her show show about God, religion and forgiveness award-winning comedian and ABC journalist Ange Lavoipierre charts the course from 10-year-old evangelist to fully-fledged heathen.
Lavoipierre described her show as “a deeply silly show about a very serious topic.” She also explained that this is a unique show in that it isn’t a straightforward stand up show but rather a mixture of “stand up, tarot readings, stories and some curveballs.”
As we spoke about the festival Lavoipierre said “it feels like we as a city got the cheat codes to life” as we slowly return to normality. “That we get to all be together in a room for comedy at 100% capacity is an almost embarrassing privilege and DO NOT tell anyone overseas because they all find it a bit upsetting.”
The topic of audiences brought our conversation to the people of the Inner West and their influence on Lavoipierre’s career.
“The Inner West produces some of the nicest audiences in the world,” she said. but that wasn’t all, Lavoipierre went on to credit the area for giving her the confidence to first set foot on stage. “The Inner West was the warm embrace which took me in when I first moved to Sydney from Bathurst in 2008. The arts and comedy communities in the Inner West gave me the confidence to get up on stage in the first place.”
Hopefully the Inner West audiences that Lavoipierre spoke of can embrace some her festival recommendations just as warmly. When giving recommendations Lavoipierre echoed Jeeves Verma in recommended people “see lots of stuff” but also highlighted “Scout Boxall, Michelle Braiser, and Aaron Chen.
“You’ll laugh and cry, but in a good way.”
After climbing the Sydney comedy ranks, Alex has worked as a writer and featured cast member on a raft of popular television shows and opened for some of the countries biggest comedians. This year she is bringing her own show to the Sydney Comedy Festival to help everybody deal with anxiety and get a little chuckle out of them as she does so.
According to Jae she has always viewed the Inner West as the “capital of comedy in Sydney.” So it made complete sense that she would establish a home base their when she relocated form the Central Coast.
“When I started doing comedy, I was commuting down to Sydney from the Central Coast a couple of nights a week for a five minute spot at an open mic, so when I was finally able to move down and live in the Inner West it was just the most exciting thing in my life.”
The excitement of moving to the Inner West may have just been surpassed this year though as we now witness the return of live comedy festivals.
“I genuinely can’t express how awesome it is to be in front of festival audiences after 2020,” said Jae. “When the festivals were cancelled last year we had no idea what this year would be like and it was a bit scary.”
For her recommendations Jae couldn’t look past her The Ladies Guide To Dude Cinema podcast cohost Bec Charlwood, “I saw her show in Melbourne and it blew my socks off! So so funny, I was dying.”
Writer, comedian, actor and full fledged #baller, Nat Damena is fast becoming one of the most exciting voices in the Australian comedy circuit. If you don’t already know him now may be the best time to get on board so that you can say you’ve been their from the early days.
For Damena the ability to perform live again means that he can “truely feel alive once again.” Afte the year we’ve just survived Damena said, “It’s special to be performing any time but especially now after not being able to do any performances for so long.”
Speaking about his show Damena boasts that “laughs are guaranteed or your money back.” He then went on to explain that his show is a “combination of hard-hitting classics and New Ideas that aren’t magazines at the dentist office.”
In regards to a recommendation Damena was quick to support a friend in John Cruikshank, “his show at The Factory Theatre is an absolute must see. He’s one of the best working comics in the country.”
Australia’s premier transgender lesbian comedian is once again set to grace the stages of the Sydney Comedy Festival. Goddess sees Rosie explore the ideas of laughing your way through a hard time, how vindication doesn’t always feel great and what it’s like to go through puberty in your 30s. Think it’s a hard life? How could it be? Everyone keeps telling her she’s a Goddess!
When asked what people should expect from her show Piper gave everyone perhaps the greatest motivation to attend you could ever imagine.
“Expect to laugh a lot and then suddenly become a millionaire in the week following the show.”
Reflecting on the importance of the Inner West Piper had a somewhat unexpected answer, “there are so many good gigs in the area but it’s also a place where, as a trans woman, I feel large safe and free of judgement.” The lack of judgment is an incredibly important factor in the development of a young comedian.
In closing Piper explained the importance of being able to perform live shows again this year.
“It’s very special. Comedy works best in a little room full of people sitting on top of each other to really get a good atmosphere for laughter going, so the fact we can do that again is very encouraging. I might even call for stacks on at some stage during the show just ‘cause we can…”
Sydney Comedy Festival runs form Until May 16 at various venues around the city. Tickets & Info at www.sydneycomedyfest.com.au