I’ll be the first to admit that all too often I can get caught up in the seriousness of life. Usually this process happens all too quickly and always all at once. But I don’t think I’m alone in this either. The pace of life has a habit of sweeping us up and bogging us down and turning us into everything we never thought we’d be. So sometimes, we need an escape plan. Something that we can fall back on, to lift us out of the rut of our lives and back into something we enjoy. Luckily, we have comedy. Specifically over this glorious long weekend of ours we have a whole heap of comedy. As a part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival Roadshow, this weekend sees a whole host of talented comedians settle in to help us forget all of our problems for just a moment. Mandy Nolan is just one of the many talents on the bill and in the lead up to opening night at the Civic Theatre this evening, I sat down and spoke to her about the thinking woman’s bogan, working the room and a relatable sense of vulnerability.
“People come for comedy for a lot of different reasons. They come for entertainment but sometimes they come along because they’re having a really hard time or something really horrible has happened in their family and they really need to laugh. You never know what their investment is.”“I always call myself the thinking woman’s bogan and the bogan woman’s thinker,” Mandy laughs as we sit in the empty theatre foyer, discussing all things comedy. Having spent the past three decades making people laugh on stage, Mandy is much more down to earth then I expected. There’s always a strange misconception that comes with being a comedian, but something that was squashed for me indefinitely as soon as we started chatting. Because there’s a sense of utmost relatability to her and from what I’ve personally seen of her comedic experience and routine, that’s exactly why she’s so funny. “The reality is,” says Mandy “to stay good at it, you kind of have to keep your commonality. For me (when you’re the one on stage) you’re really not different from anyone who’s in the audience. You’ve just developed an ability to articulate your observations and your ideas and opinions in a way that’s funny to an audience. It’s not as hard as you think but it’s kind of like being a magician you know ‘don’t let people know the secret’”.
At the end of the day, comics are at the mercy of their audience, and the energy in the room, the way they present themselves on stage and the pitch of their material all combine together to really hammer home the performance. “It’s amazing in a room how the smallest things can make a difference,” says Mandy. “You don’t know what’s happened in peoples day, or even in their lives. Sometimes people come for comedy for a lot of different reasons. They come for entertainment but sometimes they come along because they’re having a really hard time or something really horrible has happened in their family and they really need to laugh. You never know what their investment is.”
“You should expect to see my undies at some point, I don’t even mean to show them, that probably should actually be a health warning”Of the comics accompanying her on tour, and of the festival itself, it turns out for Mandy, the performance of her comrades holds a lot of weight as well. “It’s really exciting watching the new young comics come through… They’ve got so much excitement and so many great ideas. I’m always so impressed by how clever they are and how much they think outside the box, the guys on this tour are fantastic.”
But as well as gracing the stage herself, Mandy lends her specific set of skills to those in search of a challenge and a different sort of experience, passing on tips and tricks of the trade to other comedic hopefuls chasing the limelight. But like writing or perhaps a variety of other creative outlets I asked, “can you actually teach someone how to be funny?”. “You can’t teach someone how to be funny… it’s actually so much more of a personal development thing for some people,” Mandy answers. “You’re not really teaching someone how to be funny, you have to teach people to allow themselves to find the humour in things again, which is completely different.”At the end of the day, as much as comedy is there for our entertainment, it provides with with so much more than that. “Things will happen in your life and you’ll stop laughing at yourself. You’ll feel really serious and you start to develop lots of negative self talk and you’re almost frightened to laugh at things in your life”.
Not wanting to give much away about the shows over the weekend, Mandy once again praised her fellow comics and reiterated quite simply, that there will be laughs. On her own performance she says, “you should expect to see my undies at some point, I don’t even mean to show them, that probably should actually be a health warning” (laughs). On a more serious note she added; “I really do think that comedy is an amazing thing because it connects people. It’s really important to remember to laugh. Very often your life will take you to a very hard place and laughter is so very good for you”.
So there you have it, a little sneak peak into the mind of Mandy Nolan, and the comedic experience that is taking over the Civic Theatre this long weekend.
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