8 Australian Women Who Are Killing It In Comedy Right Now
Get around it.
We recently help our inaugural Video Junkee festival — an event to celebrate film, TV, online video. Now we’re taking a moment to spotlight some of the legends who make your favourite work.
One of the sessions we hosted — with Claudia Pickering, Tanya Hennessy, SketchShe and SkitBox — is all about women so, in honour of that, here’s a bunch more who are doing particularly great stuff at the moment. Get around it.
Though she’s been all over the Australian comedy scene for just under a decade, Sydney local Claudia O’Doherty has hit it huge over the past couple of years. After moving to London in 2012, she made some digital shorts for Channel 4. They were then picked up by Bill Hader and Amy Schumer, which landed her a role in Trainwreck. Less than a year later and she’s working with Judd Apatow again in the hit Netflix series Love.
O’Doherty’s always been part of the alternative comedy scene and talked about it having certain limitations within an Australian context (though things have arguably picked up over the past couple of years). Her character in Love, Bertie Bauer, is a fairly good entry point to her work for those who aren’t familiar. Bertie is zany and positive and tender. She’s like Kimmy Schmidt if Kimmy Schmidt were also aggressively Australian and at one point exposed our “true blue” drinking song to bewildered little cuties in LA.
Watch her in: Love! The first two seasons are on Netflix now.
Throwback to: That time she wrote a book about pandas with David O’Doherty (no relation).
Even if you’ve never seen one of her stand-up shows — no biggie, but she’s kind of a regular on the festival circuit and had a sold-out show called Little Bitch, which I respect at face value — you probably know Becky Lucas’ work. Lucas was been a writer for Please Like Me and is now picking it up again for Matt Okine’s new Stan show The Other Guy.
Between both those shows and her style of stand-up (various topics include pingas, Jay-Z, texting mishaps, and dating DJs who will prob give you chlamydia), she’s earned a reputation as ~millennial~ comedian which translates as ‘she’s funny’ and ‘makes jokes about things that are relevant’. Luckily, she’s also recently popped up on Comedy Central’s Facebook page, so you might be seeing more of her on-screen soon.
Watch her in: This clip, which personally attacks me.
Throwback to: Last year’s Good Az Friday set. The text mishap bit is pretty great.
Since taking out MICF’s Raw Comedy contest and Edinburgh Fringe’s So You Think You’re Funny in 2013, Demi Lardner’s been consistently delivering great stuff. The year after she starred in an award-winning and deeply troubling Wolf Creek musical. She was later nominated for a Barry Award for Best Newcomer, and this year snagged Directors’ Choice at MICF.
Her show Look What You Made Me Do sees her star as a hallucinatory 46-year-old man named Gavin, and provoked a Herald Sun reviewer to start his review with the sentence, “Clearly I’m missing something”. Make of that what you will, but her Gala spot had me crying for about a week.
Watch her in: WHERE IS THE SECRET STASH, LOOKING FOR THE SECRET STASH, WHERE IS THE BOX THAT TO KEEP MY SECRET STASH IN, LET’S BLOODY FIND IT, WHICH ONE OF YOU’S GOT IT…
Throwback to: Baby Demi Lardner in RAW!
You may know Michelle Law primarily as a writer (her work is in places like Daily Life, frankie, and SMH), but that writing has increasingly made its way onto the stage and screen too. She’s worked in the writers room for SBS’ The Family Law (duh, there’s a character based on her), and more recently brought a highly praised play into the world, Single Asian Female.
Single Asian Female is outwardly a comedy about a family in a suburban Chinese restaurant, but more importantly a skewering of cultural identity and gender in Australia. It picked up five stars from The Guardian and has been praised as a hilarious comedy and lightning rod for Australian theatre in equal measure.
Watch: Single Asian Female is at the end of its run, but you can vicariously live through it all on the internet and ask her to tour Australia here.
Throwback to: That time we asked her to write about diversity on TV with her brother Benjamin Law and published their emoji porn.
After clocking up more than 17 million views with their ‘Activewear’ skit in 2015, Aussie sketch group Skit Box well and truly made a name for themselves. But things didn’t stop there. Since then, the group (Adele Vuko, Sarah Bishop and Greta Lee Jackson) made Wham Bam Thank You Ma’am, a full ABC series green-lit off the back of the Fresh Blood program that’s now showing internationally through NBC Universal’s Comedy site SeeSo.
Watch: There is no shortage of online shorts from Skit Box these days. You have so many to catch up on.
Throwback to: The stone cold hit.
Celia Pacquola has long been a stalwart of the Melbourne comedy scene, but her charm and good-natured humour landed her on the Australian small screen and now she’s one of comedy’s biggest names. She’s been writing for TV since Good News Week, and performed warm and memorable characters in Offspring, Utopia and The Beautiful Lie.
Now she and Utopia co-star Luke McGregor are co-creating their own comedy hit, Rosehaven, the second season of which is coming up on ABC later this year. Pacquola’s generous comedy is infectious, and Rosehaven is about the most charming show on TV. Check it — and her — out.
Watch her in: Rosehaven! Season one is available to buy via ABC iview now, and season two is on its way.
Throwback to: Her first time on Rove <3
Hannah Gadsby is the queen of comedy right now. Off the back of oversold performances of her stand-up swan song, Nanette, for which she also won MICF’s prestigious best-in-show award, The Barry, Gadsby may be ~technically~ done with comedy but her light is still burning pretty damn brightly.
Well known for her open and honest comedy, in which she delves into her own mental illness and her sexuality, Gadsby is an impressive figure on comedy stages and screens. Her wonderful contribution to one of Australia’s most brilliant comedies in recent years, Please Like Me, will preserve Gadsby’s blunt, wry comedy in film for years to come.
And, if you missed the outstanding Nanette, Gadsby has been persuaded to do some encore performances of the show in Sydney and Melbourne later this year.
Watch her in: This year’s MICF where she mounted a case about fake news with a joke about Billy Crystal orgasming.
Throwback to: Go back as far as you like. It’s always been good.
One of the brains behind genius sketch show Black Comedy, Nakkiah Lui is a playwright and performer (as well as being a stellar commentator on race and politics). Whether it’s her impassioned, often starkly funny tweets, or her sell-out Sydney Theatre Company rom-com, Black Is The New White, Lui is a fresh and fierce voice in the young writer-comedian scene.
Lui’s STC show, in particular, was a sharp and incisive comedy about the relationship between race, wealth and politics in Australia, as well as the wild, essential bond of family. With a host of (notably more diverse) STC viewers rolling in the aisles, I wouldn’t be surprised if savvy film producers are preparing to bring Lui’s Black Is The New White to the big screen.
Watch her in: This clip where she explains the great new show.
Throwback to: This clip from Black Comedy, in which Lui stars alongside Steven Oliver, Deborah Mailman and Briggs.