Queer comics abound at MICF: Meet the hilarious Kirsty Webeck
The Melbourne International Comedy Festival kicks off this month and there’s a host of LGBTIQ comics on offer. We caught with one of them, the hilarious Kirsty Webeck (who also just happens to be up for Australian of the Year!).
How did comedy start for you?
I had a somewhat unconventional approach to getting into comedy. I did a workshop a few years ago just to give me a push and at the end of it we had to do a five-minute spot. I thoroughly enjoyed being on stage, so I wrote a one hour show and the second time I ever did stand-up comedy, it was for a full hour. I did that show in Canberra, my hometown, and Melbourne, then I repeated the formula three more times before I registered my first Melbourne International Comedy Festival show.
Can you tell us a bit about your MICF show?
Good One is essentially a show about being a good person. I have a keen interest in people and how they interact and sometimes I see and hear things that make me terrified for the human race. I used that as inspiration to write a show about being good, what that means and times I've really failed at it. My comedy is often described as positive comedy that always punches up and Good One is no exception. I want people to walk away feeling happy and good.
What do you think it takes to be a good comic?
Authenticity is incredibly important. I think audiences want to feel like they're actually connecting with you (unless of course you're a character comedian). If you're authentic onstage, your performance will always shine brighter because you're not expending energy on being something you're not. Also, working hard, writing lots, learning from your peers - being online up nights is the best because you get to watch everyone else, being able to take criticism and critique yourself and focusing on giving 100 per cent every single time you step on stage, whether it's to five people or two thousand.
We are seeing more and more LGBTIQ comedians these days, why do you think that is?
I honestly don't know. It's a sign of the times that some of us from the LGBTIQ communities are lucky enough to feel that we can be ourselves, so in turn, we're more visible when working in jobs attached to public profiles. Maybe the numbers have remained the same, but these days some of us don't feel that we need to hide it? It's just a theory, though.
Besides the comedy you have been nominated for an Australian of the Year Award – how did that come about?
It's a really secretive process. You're actually only told about your nomination after the award has been awarded, which I quite like. Then they send you out a certificate and I'm all about those. I suspect that it must have been as a result of my work in the LGBTIQ communities. I doubt that someone came to one of my stand up shows and thought, "that was so funny that I reckon she's the best person in the whole country. Let's honour her accordingly."
What drives you to do the volunteer work you do?
A desire for change and for everyone to feel safe, equal and like an integral and valued part of society. As I started receiving more opportunities in entertainment I knew that I really had to use that platform to educate and strive towards effecting change. I usually get to do really fun things too, so the volunteer work I do hardly feels like a chore and if it helps change one person's attitudes, then it's well worth it.
What are you hoping audiences take away from your show?
I really hope that it promotes this idea of being kind to yourself so that kindness flows onto people around you. I hope it gets people thinking about what they can do differently and I also just want everyone to have a really happy, lighthearted time.
Kirsty Webeck in Good One at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, March 29 – April 9, comedyfestival.com.au