The sound of Anne Edmonds’ dog barks as soon as we start our conversation that – despite being on the telephone – brings a homely touch to our interview. Edmonds herself hasn’t been staying at her home of Melbourne too much. She just arrived from a bunch of stand-up dates in London where she toured her show You Know What I’m Like for the last time. There isn’t any rest for the funny folk though, as her new show starts her run of dates around the country later this month, and it’s a much more lighter affair, as seen in the title no less: That’s Eddotainment!
“It can be a lonely thing to do…” she says, referring to recent touring adventures overseas. “If it’s during a festival, it’s good because there’ll always be other comedians around doing shows as well. That really helps. We get together and hang out and stuff. [But] being in London for the last three weeks on my own [is] a challenge.”
Those lonely festival experiences had been a big part of her time within Australia too earlier on, particularly in unfamiliar comedy scenes. An experience in Brisbane made her wonder if this funny ha ha stuff was worth it all. “I had a birthday there, I was turning 33 or something and I didn’t know many of the comedians. I just didn’t know them well enough and the birthday was me sleeping on a mattress in a spare room.”
“I took up comedy quite late when I was 29. I had a job and career up to that point as well as money. Suddenly I found myself on my 33rd birthday on this floor on someone’s house wondering what decision I had.”
Edmonds figures that the new places you visit allow you to get a bit of perspective into the inner workings of the comedy scenes of cities, which work in intricately different ways within audiences. But those experiences of finding the familiar in unfamiliarity are beneficial to Edmonds. “Every time we go somewhere, you often end up with a story that ends up in your stand-up. In London, one of the great things about being there was doing gigs in the stand up circuit there and the high quality there. There are incredible comedians working there, and you see stuff that inspires you to come home and get better at comedy here in Australia.”
But as well as the different types of audiences, there were challenges with the industry side of things too, “There are also agents giving you their cards and all that sort of thing. It’s all very Hollywood-esque type of behavior. It’s interesting because there isn’t much substance to it. You’d ring the number on the card the next day and no-one would answer.”
But while she is learning stuff all the time in those behind-the scenes moments, a part of her brain sets aside all that stuff for stand up sets. Edmonds then transfers that stuff to paper while travelling in a coach, car or light-speed plane, “It really starts to develop through the tour. Things get cut and you think about it every day. This process can go on. On the last night of the last show in London, which was the last time I did that show (You Know What I’m Like) altogether, I was still moving things around.”
“I think unfortunately it can feel like something that you have to do and be really contrived,” she continues, thinking about a different tack for her That’s Eddotainment! “It is a bit in conflict with the life of a stand-up comedian which is [all about] all year-round bits of comedy that just occur to you in real life.” The completion of the show this time around is about a change of mood too. “I think last year’s show was quite an undertaking and extremely personal. I delved into particularly lonely areas. It was a quite dark show. The title of the new show (That’s Eddotainment!) would reflect in me a want to have a fun show for an hour.”
And in a way, that fun reflects her writing style. While Edmonds doesn’t mind the occasional sit-at-you-desk writing session, the stage is where she’ll get the exciting stuff done. “You can sit and write at a computer for weeks and then you’ll be on stage and then everything will drop in a moment. It’s a strange but fluid process.”
Anne Edmonds’ That’s Eddotainment! is touring around the country starting with shows at Perth’s Fringe World (February 16 – 21), Brisbane Comedy Festival (March 1 – 6), Canberra Comedy Festival (March 17), Melbourne International Comedy Festival (March 24 – April 17) and Sydney Comedy Festival (May 6 – 7). Get tickets here.