“You can expect so many Shrek-like oniony layers” – Daisy Berry on her comedy festival show, Adelaide weirdness, and therapy onstage
Daisy Berry has just gotten back from touring her show Am I Mental? in Adelaide and is gearing up for her run at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. We talked to her about cynicism, psychiatry, and the city of… motorbikes.
You just got back from playing the Adelaide Fringe Festival. How was the City of Churches?
It was good! But I’m renaming it to the city of motorbikes. There were so many! It was crazy. And I would know as I did my show on the balcony of a pub so I heard every single one.
Some pretty strange rumours make it back here from comedians who have played there. How do you find the Adelaide comedy scene? And what’s the weirdest thing that’s happened to you in Adelaide?
The Adelaide scene is fun and the other comedians there were super welcoming and warm when it came to offering gigs and spots in shows. Adelaide city and audiences on the other hand were interesting. Great, but certainly different to Melbourne. I think that surprises some people because Adelaide and Melbourne physically aren’t that far apart but they are super different places.
The audiences I got there were either extremely chatty or they were totally silent and looked terrified to be there. Like they weren’t sure how they accidentally ended up at a comedy show. There was no grey area.
The strangest thing that happened was during one of my shows the audience started passionately discussing rape culture which to me felt like it came out of nowhere, but to them obviously something I had said in the show had triggered something for them. Nearly the entire audience got involved in the conversation, just complete strangers politely discussing and mostly agreeing and backing each other up in the discussion while I stood on stage watching this happen for a couple of minutes, completely entranced, until I had to remind them that we were at a comedy show and none of what they were discussing was funny. To which they laughed then politely waited for my next jokes. The whole show was like walking this tightrope between keeping it fun and keeping it focussed. At the time it was exhausting but looking back it was amazing. Conversation and banter is my favourite part of performing stand up. Each audience has something so individual and unique to bring and that keeps it exciting. I get sick of the sound of my own voice.
Your new show is called Am I Mental? What led you to unpack your mental health baggage live on stage? How has it been received?
I guess I got led to the unpacking by stand-up basically being therapy. Whinging about your problems on stage as a comedian is the best, so I just wanted to take that to a literal level and to basically force my audience into being unqualified therapists. From there I get to point out how judgemental we can be on a day to day basis anyway, and to just offer them a free for all when it comes to me.
It’s been received pretty well. People keep assuming that audiences have just decided that I’m mental, like that’s a given, but it’s been surprisingly 50/50 in answers. Trust me; I’m the most surprised of anyone when it comes to that.
Aside from talk of brain chemistry, what sort of things can we expect from the show?
Layers. You can expect so many Shrek-like oniony layers.
There’s my usual sarcastic and dry cynicism, that’s just a given when it comes to me, but I also talk about the human ego, that we’re so judgemental of each other, how I met my dad for the first time when I was 16 and how men need to stop man-spreading on trams. (Not a joke, just spread it amongst yourselves dudes.) Just all such fun and light hearted stuff, you know!
In our last interview (featuring the amazing Lisa-Skye) we talked about trying to get you a date. How’s that been going? Anything you’d like to say to all the eligible babes out there?
Wow, it’s like I’m on a dating show, or a weird version of Tinder. Ah, my love life is the usual desert it always is. Let’s see… hello ladies? Is anyone out there?
How sexy and not desperate was that! Go me!
What other shows are on your must-see list this comedy festival? Are there any that you’ll be steering clear of?
No, none that I’ll be avoiding. I’m super excited to see Lauren Bok’s show. I saw it at Fringe when it was still developing and it was great, but it sounds like its changed heaps and won some awards in Adelaide which is great. Also Anne Edmonds, Celia Paquola ( if she hasn’t sold out already), Nicole Henrikson-she’s even doing two shows so double the love- Laura Davis; I saw her show last year and it was amazing. There’s heaps more but I could go on for ever so I’ll stop. There’s just a ridiculous amount of talent in this festival every year. It’s fantastic and terrifying all at once.
And finally, what’s on for Daisy Berry post comedy-fest?
Well, once I’ve had the usual post-festival-exhaustion-flu I’ll crawl out of my hole and hopefully still be a functioning human. Then if I am I’ll be helping a friend on her web series which a bunch of us were discussing at the start of the year. It sounds like it’s going to be super fun. I think after so many months doing it solo I’ll definitely be keen to throw myself into collaborative stuff for the second half of 2016.
Am I Mental? is showing at Highlander from the 5th-16th of April. Tickets $20 ($15 conc) and are available through trybooking.com or at the door.