The Book of Judith
Judith Lucy’s new autobiography Drink, Smoke, Pass Out is a frank, witty and oftentimes hilarious exploration of her spiritual side. The Australian comedian speaks with Lachlan Bennett.
From the outside, you wouldn’t pick her as the spiritual type. She’s a heavy drinker, chain-smoker and has led one rollercoaster of a life. But believe it or not, Australian comedian Judith Lucy does have a long history with her spiritual side, however turbulent it may be.
Born and raised a devout catholic, Lucy turned her back on religion in favour for booze, boys and her career. Eventually realising none of these would bring her the happiness she’d hoped for and plagued by the death of her parents within a year of each other, Lucy began to develop a strange curiosity for the spiritual.
Now in her mid-forties, Lucy has chronicled her volatile relationship with her spiritual side in her new autobiography Drink, Smoke, Pass Out, detailing her journey towards spiritual enlightenment, including all the vocational and sexual mishaps she’s had on the way.
Lucy made her debut to the comedy stage in 1989. Since then she’s written and performed a dozen live stand-up shows, featured in comedy sketch series The Late Show and starred in Australian films Crackerjack and Bad Eggs. More recently she developed her own television show Judith Lucy’s Spiritual Journey, which aired last year. Although many of Lucy’s experiences in the show are referenced in Drink, Smoke, Pass Out, it’s not the full story.
“I actually came up with the idea for a book, before I came up with the idea for the television show,” Judith tells SX.
“A few years back I realised I was less anxious and less depressed and while still fond of a drink, I was not drinking to the point of losing consciousness every single night. So I thought, ‘Hang on a minute, what’s changed?’ And I realised that yoga had very slowly lead me to an interest in spirituality and I thought it might be worth trying to write about that in a funny way that didn’t make people puke. Because I know I certainly still feel quite nauseous when I hear the word ‘spiritual’.”
Lucy says the book is an alternative to romanticised books like Eat, Pray, Love, which she describes a life and spiritual journey that couldn’t be any more different from her own.
“I’m not saying there isn’t good stuff in books like that,” Lucy says. “But there was just nothing in there that I could relate to. So I thought maybe it’s worth trying to write a book about yoga and meditation that also has a fair amount of drinking, smoking and passing out in it because a few more people might actually relate to that story.”
Drink, Smoke, Pass Out includes hilarious accounts of her spiritual experiences including a trip to India, an encounter with Aboriginal elders and her dabblings with yoga and meditation. On a more serious note, the book makes mention of her coping with the loss of her parents and her best friend.
Overall, the book offers an insightful and funny exploration of Lucy’s world. In keeping with the tradition of her standup and first book The Lucy Family Alphabet, Lucy has no hesitation in being outrageously honest about her personal life.
Her openness, Lucy say, is probably a retaliation from her secretive upbringing and she has “never really seen the point of being terribly private”.
“I don’t know anyone whose family isn’t nuts. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t gotten drunk and made an idiot of themselves. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t had a bad relationship or a hideous one-night stand.
“Obviously I’ve got a couple of unique experiences in there – not every women I know has slept with a male escort and then talked about it – but by and large, most of my experiences are incredibly universal. So why would I worry about sharing them, especially if I can get some laughs (and cash) out of them?”
Drink, Smoke, Pass Out is out now through Penguin Books.