Comic Mummy, Jenny Wynter
Jenny Wynter is the down-to-earth Comic Mummy from Brisbane, QLD. She will be travelling down to our dear city of Adelaide with her ‘Unexpected’ Variety Show next week as a part of the Adelaide Cabaret Fringe Festival. The show runs a short season at Tuxedo Cat from 23 June to 25 June.
Before you read Wynter’s witty responses below to our “hard” questions here at Adelaide ArtBeat, see how her rehearsals are going in anticipation of the show…
RC: How did you first get into stand-up comedy?
JW: Ever since I can remember I wanted to be an actor, and looking back now – though it wasn’t something I intentionally pursued – I can see that I was always cast in the comedic role. Then when I became a mother relatively early in life (at least in terms of what I had planned to happen!), I thought performing was over for the time being and found that ridiculously hard to deal with.
Then one day I saw a sign up for a stand-up comedy competition and without thinking, I just rang up and registered. I didn’t have the faintest idea what material I would say, I didn’t have anything! But I knew that a deadline would force me to come up with something! At that point it really wasn’t anything serious, it was more just a way for me to feel better about having a guaranteed night out of the house doing something that had nothing to do with being a mum. It was only as it started to snowball that I realised I’d kinda accidentally stumbled into a comedy career.
RC: Tell us about your first stand-up gig…
JW: Well, it was at the Triple J Raw Comedy Competition, which I think was a brilliant start as the audience there knows it’s all newbies and they were very supportive. That said I was still completely terrified!
I took a guitar up onstage with me, reasoning that even if people didn’t laugh at me, if I played music they’d at least listen! It was a bit of a psychological crutch: I’d never ever played guitar in public before, in fact I had no idea how to even plug the damn thing in. When the sound guy realised this he gave me a look that said “Oooooh boy you tragic little lady!” But to my surprise it went quite well. And when you’re bitten by the high that is ‘strangers laughing at/with me!’, it bites you hard.
It’s funny to me now though, thinking that I only did a song to start with because I was so scared – nowadays, musical comedy is the main focus of what I do!
RC: Where do you find the inspiration for your jokes and stories?
JW: Like that famous Wet, Wet, Wet song says, “It’s all around.” “I feel it in my fingers.” “I feel it in my toes…” I’ll stop now. But yes, it’s really just drawn from anything in life.
There’s a saying that goes “bad for life, good for comedy” and I think that’s definitely true. Sometimes now even when something terrible is happening, there is a small part of me inside that is busily taking notes, going “this will be great material some day…” I don’t know if that’s very healthy or not!
JW: Haha! I’m impressed you’ve read my blog, even my hubby refuses to!
This show is very, very different from anything I’ve gone before – it really is a one-person variety show (it goes way beyond my normal stand-up and features musical, character, improv comedy and storytelling) that delves into the unexpected segments of life.
It’s a real first for me in that it’s by far the most deeply personal material I’ve ever done. I think it’s quite different than my traditional stand-up, which really just aims to make people laugh. In this show, people who’ve seen it have laughed, cried, come to see the show twice and often come up and hugged me afterwards in the foyer. Which I welcome. I love affection that doesn’t involve snot on my shoulder.
But yes, if you see my stand-up, you might laugh at me, if you see this show, you might laugh, but you’ll also get to know me. I make no claims as to whether this is an actual good thing.
RC: Why have you chosen to come down and perform at the Adelaide for the Cabaret Fringe Festival?
JW: I first heard about the Cabaret Fringe Festival from a lovely comedian friend of mine, Liz Skitch (of “Skitchtease” fame.) We performed together earlier this year at “Titters” in the Adelaide Fringe and had the most incredible time and for me personally, this was a hugely significant turning point. Namely because 2010 had been a spectacularly awful year – I was wiped out in a head on collision weeks before my show was to make its Aussie debut and found myself sidelined from performing altogether for months.
So performing in Adelaide earlier this year felt in many ways like my stage re-entry. I couldn’t believe how beautiful the audiences were and how much they were open and connected with my stuff, so on the back of that tremendously special experience, I absolutely leapt upon the opportunity to come back here to mark the Aussie debut of my show, much like a rabid dog jumps on rabid dog stuff. Doing it in Adelaide just seemed kinda perfect. And unexpected. How poetic is that?!