A staple of the Melbourne comedy scene, Claire Sullivan start her comedy career in Hobart before making the move to Melbourne. This year, she’s bringing her solo show Space Cadet to the Comedy Festival – we chatted to her about her show and her comedy.
You’re a regular on the Melbourne comedy scene – how does it change when the Comedy Festival rolls through? Not to pick favourites or name names, but do you get to hobnob with cool international comedians?
Comedy Festival is possibly my favourite time of the year. I have friends from all over Australia and the globe from comedy festival and it’s always so brilliant seeing them again. People like Jekyl X James and Tessa Waters. (Go see both their shows. They’re incredible performers.)
Also Comedy Festival is a full month of non-stop comedy. Seeing world-wide famous comedians’ shows alongside your best mates’ shows is so important as a comic. Comedy Festival is the best education a comedian can get (apart from just getting on stage as often as they can obviously). As a comic I learn SO MUCH every year from all the shows I see and all the famous comics that I force into conversation with me at the Hi-Fi and Peter Cooke bar.
You did move from Hobart to Melbourne – how do the comedy scenes compare?
I started doing comedy in 2011. I had just finished year 12 so I guess I was in my ‘gap year’. I signed up for Triple J’s Raw Comedy Open Mic Comp, won state finals and got through to nationals. I was representing Tasmania. I spent the year in Hobart before I moved to Melbourne. The Hobart scene was brilliant. Everyone there were all so encouraging of anything. Just don’t be like everyone else but make sure you watch everyone. The Hobart scene were very into experimental and ridiculous comedy. It’s such a wonderful scene there.
So, Space Cadet. Tell me about your interest in space. Did you want to be an astronaut when you were a kid? Would you be one of those Mars settlers?
I wouldn’t want to be one of those Mars settlers! My friend Josh Richards has made it into the Mars 100 and I think he’s crazy! (He’s also a super awesome dude and a genuine friend/human.) I can’t imagine leaving everyone and everything I love to live underground for the rest of my life! That would be torture for me.
I’ve always loved looking at the stars and the images of space that the Hubble telescope take. I’ve never wanted to be an astronaut, but I have always loved the way that the media has depicted space travel. Since the art movement in the 60s of futurism, to Interstellar. That’s what has fascinated me, the way we interpret space travel from the way the media feeds it to us.
It’s so fun and weird and unreal.
Your show isn’t straight stand-up or straight theatre – how would you describe it exactly?
Well I take the audience into space with me. So that might be a clue?
I did it in Hobart just recently and my friend (and fellow comic) described it to me as being like ‘If The Mighty Boosh and Josie Long met in a chaotic op-shop’. I suppose it’s like a form of clowning.
It’s a ridiculous show of controlled chaos; where the audience thinks it’s chaos until they realise I’ve been in control the entire time.
You also do radio and TV – how does that inform or influence your stand-up comedy?
Yeah I do stuff on Channel 31 and on SYN radio. It’s great because I get to learn new skills which as a performer is always handy. Especially because as a 22-year-old I have no idea what my future will be.
I never know what will come in handy.
Doing Live On Bowen (Ch31) helped me because I learnt how to write a sketch in a team very quickly. We write on Mondays, meet up again during the week, film it on the weekend then it gets shown live on the Friday. My Live On Bowen team were always a week or two ahead of the actual live recording of the show. And the live recording of the show was always a week before it went to air.
So my videos always had to be timeless.
Finally, your top picks for this year’s Comedy Festival?
God, there are so many!
- 3 Little Gigs. It’s three new awesome comics that you’ve never heard of before. (which is half the point of MICF – to go see comics before they’re famous so that in five/ten years you can tell your mates “I saw them when they did a show in a broom closet”)
- Tessa Waters – Womanz. It’s an amazing total-woman empowering clowning show of self-love and feminism. She’s effing brilliant.
- Jekyl x James – Cactus Blastus. Funnier than The Mighty Boosh, more imaginative than C.S Lewis.
- Dave Warneke – Dates the Entire Audience. Or just any show with Dave Warneke as creator. He’s a freaking alien-looking human hilarious genius made of actual funny bones.
- Dr Brown. He’s a clown from France and will blow your goddamned minds.
- Zoe Coombs Marr – Dave. If you are even somewhat comedy savvy this super amazing queer/femme/drag/comedy/stand-up/theatre show will have you questioning what is comedy and why do some people think they’re entitled to the stage. And then you’re creative mind will explode.
- DeAnne Smith. She’s an adorable Canadian who everyone that I have ever met that has seen her wants to marry her. She’s also whip-smart and super super funny.
- Trygve Wakenshaw – Natualis. He’s won the Barry. He’s a clowning genius. All bow down to Trygve Wakenshaw.
Claire Sullivan’s Space Cadet runs from 6th April to 18th April (no Sundays) at Hugs and Kisses. Tickets start from $12 – you can grab them from the MICF website, from trybooking.com, or at the door.