Hugs achieved: x1
Claire Sullivan is excited about how “fun” and “different” her 2017 Melbourne International Comedy Festival show ‘I Wish I Owned A Hotel For Dogs’ is. “Visually just watching it… it’s different”, says Claire. The show has received great reviews in its opening nights (Hugging Comedians – ★★★★; The Music - ★★★★½). Claire, who wrote, produced and performs the one-woman show has put together a piece that will delight most, just not children. “I know what I look like… it really looks like you could bring your kids to my show… you really shouldn’t”.
The show is about “dogs and feminism… it’s like… a surreal comedy… I’m not a normal comedian so strap yourselves in”. Claire does not really perform classic ‘stand-up’, rather her show incorporates sketches, poetry, dancing, quick stories and some more traditional 'joke telling' woven in between. “Absurd… is that the right word?”, Claire asks rhetorically.
Claire is proud of the “independently produced” show she has put together, “I’ve worked really hard on it”. She also speaks with genuine positivity about performing on stage, “it’s amazing… a really good feeling…. I can’t imagine not performing”. Claire has ““always wanted be an actor… a writer, (an) artist” and since moving from Hobart to Melbourne in 2012, she has participated in a number of shows including the Monash Law Review, the Melbourne Fringe Festival and previous iterations of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.
When speaking with Claire, you can see that she has lots of new (and possibly a little odd) ideas, her thought process evident on her face as she considers the questions I ask her with some depth. Claire would love to have her own TV Show… but what would it be like? “Do you know Yo Gabba Gabba?! Kinda like that but an adult one”!
In addition to having a playful and imaginative brain, Claire is also a critical thinker about some of the issues facing the comedy circuit. Claire has respect for the comedy/stand-up rooms that “try to book” equal line-ups but is concerned that this issue is still ongoing. The “comedy (scene) is still talking about how not enough women are in line-ups, and that’s why they’re not talking about any other issues”. Claire highlights that there are also “hardly any people of colour… and when there are, they feel like they have to represent, have to do a joke about their race”. She adds “there’s (also) hardly any people of any other genders in comedy… because we’ve created a space where they probably… don’t feel like they can get up”.
Claire is engaging on this topic, as we discuss some of the humour that is said in ignorance rather than in spite, particularly when it is related to race, gender and sexuality. On a more positive note, Claire speaks fondly of her experience with PO PO MO CO, an “alternative queer comedy group” that performs monthly shows at ‘Hares & Hyenas’ but is also performing during the MICF (18 to 22 April 2017). Kimberley Twiner “the brain behind” it, “brought us all together”. Claire highlights how supportive the group was in helping her grow and rediscover her passion for comedy.
In addition to being a talented performer, Claire also writes for VICE (you can read her articles here). Claire notes that if audience members have “read my articles, that’s not what my show is like…. I’m very different in my articles”. Her writing is “more personal”, covering a range of issues including a piece titled ‘I Tried to Find a Man In Mangalore’. Despite some of the tight pressure deadlines, Claire describes writing for VICE like a “teenage dream coming true”.
Even with all of these different projects and the production her MICF show, Claire still has time to give back to her audience members. “I always like to give the audience presents in my shows… thanking them for coming”. While she may occasionally touch on some darker issues, Claire insists ‘I Wish I Owned A Hotel For Dogs’ will be “different… funny and weird”. The show is “very me”.
Check out Claire Sullivan in ‘I Wish I Owned A Hotel For Dogs’, from 29 March to 8 April [no Sunday], click here for more information and to book tickets.
Check out PO PO MO CO, which will be doing shows from 18 to 22 April 2017 at Hares & Hyenas. For more information, click here.
If you have a Melbourne International Comedy Festival (MICF) show you want reviewed or you want to sit down for a chat/interview about it, contact Hugging Comedians on Facebook, Twitter or through the website.