You’ve seen her on The Project, now you can see her at the Glasshouse. For a night of stand-up comedy, high jinks and fun, don’t miss Kitty Flanagan on October 12.
You’ve been in showbiz for a while. Were you always a performer as a child?
I don’t know if I was a performer, but I would say that I was definitely an attention seeker! I guess that’s kind of the same thing … my sister and I did used to put on shows, but not in that way that you see on American television sitcoms, where the kids are very organised and put a sheet up in the backyard and the parents are all very supportive.
We used to do what would best be described as avant-garde performances, and my parents would sit there rather bemused and just go, “Hmm … is that it? We might go back to the television now …”It wasn’t like we were actively encouraged in some showbiz family, with everyone going, “Everything you do is fantastic!”
My parents did do a lot of, “Hmm, well – that’s curious, but you seem to be having fun, so good on you!” We did also involve my brother … we did dress him up in tutus and things like that and give him dance moves to do … which I think everyone does if you have a brother who is much younger than you.
He’s going to love you for telling us that!
There’s about 10 years between us, and I think that anyone with that big of an age gap always has to go through the old photo albums when they get older and start deleting all the old pictures of them in dresses and makeup and everything else that we did to him, like he was some sort of living doll! He’s moved to Japan now. I wonder if that was to get away from us!
So how DID you get in to showbiz?
Secretly I always wanted to be an actor, but I knew that I didn’t have the mindset for it. I knew that you had to do a lot of study and do a lot of serious stuff, and I really was never interested in people looking at what I was doing and thinking, “My God, she’s really emotive … ”All I ever really wanted to do was go, “Hey, what about this … do you think that’s funny?!” So I knew that really wasn’t going to wash at NIDA, going, “Hey, what about this really funny take I’m doing on Macbeth, do you like it?”
So I think standup ended up just being the quickest way to get yourself on stage. You don’t have to wait for a director or someone to cast you in anything, you can write your own stuff with standup and go, “Well, what about this everybody?” Which is pretty much all I had the attention span for!
And you’re working on The Project now. What’s that like?
It’s great. My sister pointed out to me that this is the longest running job I’ve ever had! I mean, sure I only work 2 minutes a week, but it’s still the longest running job I’ve ever had. They’re great; they let me do whatever I want and sometimes they let me sit on the panel as well – so they’re very good to me.
It’s just as if they say, “Right, what have you got here? Is that going to get us in legal trouble? You might need to take that out, but the rest of it … go for your life!”
You did a segment not long ago about Turtle Divorce … that was amusing!
See, that’s the thing; they let me do whatever topic I want. I just have to come up with a way to pitch it and make it relevant! I had to say, “Turtle Divorce really closely parallels human divorce … ”and they kind of look at me like, “Really? I’d like to see you do that!” They’re very good employers, I have to say.
And Dave, Charlie and Carrie are all incredibly generous and fun to work with. They’re just interested in the show being good; no-one cares about who’s the best one. So long as everyone looks good, then the show looks good. It’s a good attitude.
You’re on tour at the moment, aren’t you?
Yeah, we do a very leisurely ladies tour, because my sister is in my show and she has 3 children, so we can only go away for three or four days at a time and then we come back for 2 weeks, then we go away again … which is fantastic, because it means you never get sick of what you’re doing.
It takes us a long itme to get around the country, but we enjoy every bit of it …
We get to do a bit of research, find out where we’re going and all the good cafés – it’s great! It’s like a little holiday with a bit of work at the end of the day!
So what can we expect from this show?
This is the second live theatre show that I’ve done. The first one I did was much more coming off the back of working the club circuit in England, where I was for 8 years.
So the last show was more of a compilation of all my favourite bits that I’d done over the years in all the clubs, whereas this is a show that I developed doing a whole bunch of small gigs in Sydney and Canberra and just putting it all together and really just getting used to the fact that I’m working in theatres now, rather than the comedy clubs. And they’re a much more pleasant environment to work in most of the time. I tell you … I’m bloody loving it!
I’m loving doing this show and embracing the theatre space, at the risk of sounding like an acting wanker … I am all over that stage! I do some experimental movements, I do some dance moves, I do some singing …
Do you ever find it daunting getting on stage that people won’t find you funny?
There was a lot more of that in the clubs, because people turn up to see a comedy show with 4 people on that they don’t know. Whereas, I think if people buy tickets to come and see your show, you kind of already have a slight advantage … hopefully they bought a ticket because they already like your stuff.
You’ve got a slight advantage over when you walk out on stage in the clubs and go “QUICK! You’ve got to win them over before they chuck something!”
You mentioned before that you spent some time living and working overseas. What have been some of the best places that this career of yours has taken you to?
That has been the best thing about this job. I have got to travel everywhere, all under the guise of work! It’s been paid for, and I love going to a city and having a purpose. You’ve got your day to look around and do your show at night, and you walk around the city with a purpose.
I think Berlin was one of my favourite places. I got to go to South Africa as well, which I probably would never have gone to had they not said, “Come and do a comedy festival over here”, and it was brilliant. I did comedy in Japan, which was kind of weird, but fun.
Probably one of the best places in so far as enjoyable gigs would be Amsterdam. They’re a really strange audience, in that they don’t laugh out loud and you think you’re dying the first time you go over there, and then you realise that that’s just their way.
They just appreciate everything and then they come up to you afterwards and want to sit down and discuss the comedy set you’ve just done at length and tell you which bits were the funniest and dissect it. So once you realise that’s just how they appreciate it, it’s really good.
You do your set, and prepare to sit down with them afterwards. They put up their hands and ask questions during the set … it’s very funny and very ordered. No heckling; just questions. It’s like you’re a teacher up there!
You’re currently on this national tour, but are there any plans to go overseas again any time soon?
No, I’m not in any rush, I have to say. I spent 8 years overseas and travelling around, and I’m just really enjoying being based back here again and travelling around Australia. There’s plenty to do here and plenty of cities to go and see.
And like I said, we do it so slowly, it takes us forever to get around anyway. So yeah, I’m in no rush to head off again. I feel like I might have got it out of my system for quite some time.
So we’ll be seeing much more of you on home soil?
Yeah, I think so. I’m looking forward to coming up for the Coffs show actually. We haven’t done gigs up there before, so I’m excited.
See Kitty at the Glasshouse on October 12 at 8pm. Tickets cost $34.90 – Visit www.glasshouse.org.au for details or call 6581 8888.
This story was published in issue 83 Port Macquarie