Hug achieved: x1
‘Cindy Salmon’s Empowerment Hour’ focuses on the character of Cindy Salmon, a self-help guru, feminist inspiration and air-horn enthusiast. Following a strong 2016 Melbourne Fringe Festival run of the show, Hayley Tantau is determined to bring it back better for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. “It’s a really fun show… it’s Cindy Salmon, a bawdy (and) insane motivational speaker… she’s hosting a television show but some personal stuff comes up and she has to go and do some terrible things”.
“It’s tightly written but then there’s blocks of audience participation… having a strong character like Cindy… I can say whatever I want”, says Hayley. The character of Cindy “comes from a really real place”, Hayley says, indicating that she first created this strong female character in 2015. Cindy started out as a character in a “ladies advice line” sketch. Cindy “would just quote Lil’ Kim back… really sexual Lil’ Kim lyrics… that’s obviously gone, but that’s where she started”.
“I’ve always been a writer”, says Hayley, separating herself from her beloved character for a moment. She has loved comedy since she was five years old but really started developing as a performer after joining The Improv Conspiracy Theatre in 2013. It wasn’t as “nerdy” as she first thought; rather, it provided a supportive environment to work on her craft. Hayley notes that over the last few years The Improv Conspiracy Theatre “pretty much raised me as a comedian”. She discusses her progression “from student, to then teacher and performer, then coach”, commenting that she now runs a sketch class and “teaches improv”. When speaking with Hayley, every now and then a Cindy Salmon’ism slips out that is supportive of the interview. “I watched too much of The Nanny and listened to too much Lil’ Kim as a kid… so that’s why Cindy has that accent… that’s like my power place”.
Hayley may still listen to Nicki Minaj, Lil’ Kim and Kanye West to transform into Cindy Salmon, “I love rap… it’s so empowering”, but the character has undergone significant development since her creation. A particular element of this development is the type of feminist Hayley wants her to be. “I don’t want Cindy to represent feminism, because she is insane… but she is a very empowering woman”. “This is a lady who loves ladies, but she’s pretty flawed”. Cindy’s flaws considered, “you’ll probably feel empowered no matter what”. Hayley speaks fondly of her MICF show collaborators Simon McCulloch (director) and Mario Hannah, “they’re like my favourite people” who “tell me if I’ve disappeared up my own butt”.
With dreams of working on and writing for her own television show, Hayley has respected and taken inspiration from a number of influential artists. “Donald Glover had a huge impact on me… I loved him as Childish Gambino … but he wrote for 30 Rock… he’s Troy on Community… I love hip-hop and comedy… what a man!” Hayley recounts a story of telling her mum that she wanted “to go to NYU like Donald Glover did…. I’m just going to copy my idols… I’m glad I didn’t because that’s not how you do stuff”. While noting the influences of high-profile talents Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, Hayley also makes a point of highlighting the influences and love she has for local legends Gina Riley and Jane Turner.
Cindy Salamon “would tell everyone to see” the MICF show “then blast an air-horn… she’s so abrasive”, laughs Hayley. Hayley is far more level headed but is very proud of her character’s development. “It has been really awesome doing Cindy for two years now, and living that character…she’s grown as a human…now she does kickboxing”! Hayley’s show promises to be entertaining and empowering; relishing in the confident and loud woman that Cindy is. And if there is anything else you need to take away from seeing Hayley’s show, remember… “if my shoe is just missing your face because I’m doing a high-kick… know that I’m friendly”.
Check out ‘Cindy Salmon’s Empowerment Hour’ at the Forum Theatre from 30 March to 2 April & 4 to 9 April 2017; for more information and to book tickets, click here!
To read the Hugging Comedians review of Hayley’s 2016 Melbourne Fringe Festival performance as Cindy Salmon, click here.
If you have a Melbourne International Comedy Festival (MICF) show you want reviewed, contact Hugging Comedians on Facebook, Twitter or through the website.