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ALICE FRASER Myth maker


Comedian, writer, podcaster and a regular guest at The Bugle podcast, Alice Fraser has had an interesting career. Fraser came to the comedy stage from the halls of the legal profession. It’s a dramatic move, but one that has given her comedy a unique spin. With her latest show Mythos playing at the Regal Theatre (May 9-11) as part of the Perth Comedy Festival, DAVID O’CONNELL had a chat to Fraser about the myths we tell ourselves.

How do you transition from being a lawyer to stand-up comedy?

It’s a pretty easy transition, insofar as you just keep doing comedy, and then you do less law, and then you do more comedy, and all of a sudden you’re a comedian.

Was there anything that prompted it, or was it a natural progression from being a lawyer?

No. It was my escape from being a lawyer, more than anything else. I didn’t like being in a corporate environment, it didn’t suit me very well. There are people that it suits, and I was not one of them. It was a pretty clear choice.

What’s your latest show Mythos about?

So, I’m talking about the stories that we tell ourselves. How we know who we are, and how a lot of those stories don’t stand up to closer examination. And this grew out of a chat that I was having with a guy online, that turned out to be a Flat Earth theorist, and didn’t believe that Australia was real.

So you have told him we’re all actors, standing in front of the large wall of ice? (if you have no idea what I’m talking about, Google “Flat Earth”, and “Australia is not real” – or just count yourself blessed…)

He genuinely believed that every Australian you meet in the world is an actor, and that New Zealand and Australia are fake. So I thought, do I really need proof that I exist? And it really is hard to prove that you exist, to someone that refuses to believe that you exist. And how about all the things that I believe are obvious about me, and my identity, and who I am, and who I think I am… you can sort of pick them apart.

You often come back to the human condition in your comedy – how we define ourselves, and what makes us who we are. Why do you think you keep coming back to that?

Because I think that’s probably the point of everything. I’m fascinated endlessly by who we are, what we doing here in the world, and particularly fascinated by hypocrisy. We go around the world pretending to be one thing but are actually another. We always fall short of our expectations (I know I have). It’ll always be the case, and it is interesting to keep unpacking it.

Do you think that hypocrisy is part of what makes it good fare for comedy?

I think comedy falls fairly naturally into the blank spaces in the world. The things that we’re uncertain about, or should be uncertain about, I feel that’s the richest bounty of comedy. You can really wiggle into those gaps, and squeeze the heart of the matter, and have a look what’s in the inside. Even that very straightforward observational comedy, noticing things we all do, but don’t think about. The most fundamental point of comedy, is making you take another look at the world, and seeing things that you take for granted, that are invisible to you. In a very small it way changes not really what people think about the world, but how people think about the world.

What about comedy makes it a safe space for that examination? I mean… genres like comedy, sci-fi, horror, they’re all genres that people are not expecting that examination, so they allow it to go through…

In part, because they’re not expecting it, people are more open to go with the story, or going with the joke, if you give me a story (or a genre) that appears less threatening and more engaging. There’s an evolutionary biology theory I’m very fond of… I know a lot of evolutionary biology is pretty hack, but… laughter is the brain’s reward for noticing a wrong assumption that you’ve had. You thought things were one way, they turn out to be another, you’re surprised, and you’ll laugh. On an evolutionary level, your brain then opens up to new information. So on a very technical level, comedy is one of the best things for opening people’s minds up.

How would you describe your style of comedy?

I wouldn’t. I’m very bad at that. Comedy’s such a free artistic form, it’s not like more respected art forms, people don’t have many expectations, other than laughing. I hate being put in a box, I find it very stressful. It’s like when people ask you to describe yourself in four words. If I had to describe (myself) in four words those four words would be, “on the other hand…”

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