Speaking with a Time Zone Traveller:
DeAnne Smith and About Freakin’ Time

Posted on 31 March 2011

DeAnne Smith is a Canadian comedian (say that several times fast) who has been making a name for herself in Australian comedy. She has appeared on Channel Ten’s Good News Week. She also won Sydney Comedy Festival’s Time Out Best Newcomer in 2008, and the Adelaide Fringe Best Established Comedian (2009). Her show, About Freakin’ Time, is now playing at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

Wow! Canada. All I can think of is great skiing and dark chocolate maple creams. Perhaps we can pretend we’re doing this interview while shooshing down Whistler mountain.

So would your ski outfit be a million layers of clothes, making you look like Winnie the Pooh on steroids, or one of those skin tight numbers with the god-like headgear?

DeAnne: A million layers of clothing. I’ve only been skiing twice in my life, and I do NOT look cool doing it. Flailing and screaming is somehow not “cool.”

You’ve had a very swift rise in comedy. However, you have also been pro-active in seeing to it that you have regular work: hosting venues, touring all over the world, participating in competitions, etc. Did comedy feel like a calling to you? Did that give you the confidence to treat it as a career from day one?

DeAnne: Comedy definitely feels like a calling in the way that if I consider not doing it, I can only picture a life in which I never laugh or feel joy. Let’s say it has me hostage.

Also, I started kind of late. I was nearly 28 before I got into it, so I had to treat it seriously. I didn’t feel like I had the luxury to goof around with it for 5 years and THEN discover I had no employable skills. I knew I had no employable skills going into the game.

Would your show About Freakin’ Time be about 1) not having enough time, 2) wishing time would move more swiftly to the good bits, or 3) something you dreamed up in a late night caffeine fit during Pretend To Be A Time Traveler Day?

DeAnne: All of the above. And it touches on mortality, and a certain creeping feeling of despair. But in a super fun, plucky ukulele kind of way!

People love political comedy and yet successful comedy tends to involve likeability. Do you find yourself softening your edges in order to appeal to a larger audience?

DeAnne: Do I have edges? My hair is really soft and I think that should be apparent to any audience. If you find me too “edgy,” just come touch my hair and it will all be okay.

Gender humour can be particularly fraught. I’ve seen male audiences switch off when female experiences are used as a basis for humour. I’ve also seen a male comedian taken down by a row of heckling drunk female nurses when his humour became sexist. Do you find as part of the gay community that you have an easier or more difficult time making gender humour fly?

DeAnne: Man. You realize that an entire doctoral dissertation could be written on this topic, right? Um…I do try to use the fact that I date women to relate to the straight males in the audience, as well as to the queers. I don’t know if that answers the question. Also, I’m choosing to read the last part as if it’s the ’90s and you’re complimenting me on making gender humour so “fly.” So thanks.

You’ve played around with experimental humour. What areas of comedy do you feel could still use some exploring?

DeAnne: I apologize in advance. My gut response to this question is: Your mom. Sorry.

Internationally storytelling clubs seem to be on the rise. Here in Melbourne we have Willow Tales and for the comedy festival The Storyteller’s Club run by Sarah Bennetto. You ran a storytelling club in Montreal. Those clubs include comedy, but aren’t about comedy. They’re about interesting events and characters. What sorts of stories other than comedy do you tell? Mystery? Romance? Horror?

DeAnne: Horror-Mystery Romance. Everyone in it is named “Sven.”

Where and when can we see you at the Melbourne Comedy Festival?

DeAnne: My show is at the Acacia Room in the Victoria Hotel. 7:15 Tuesday through Saturday and 6:15 on Sunday.

Will you be touring the rest of Australia afterward?

DeAnne: Not the whole rest of it, but a good chunk. I’m going on tour with the Melbourne Comedy Festival Roadshow until early June and I’m hitting up Victoria and Queensland. I’ll be in Sydney from 4-8 of May.

And here comes the silly question (and you thought they all were): Do you consider curling a sport or a form of hyperspace travel and why?

DeAnne: I think of it as unnecessarily chilly cleaning. Who needs to sweep ice?

Thank you so much for offering some of your time to do this interview. I look forward to seeing your show (particularly if it involves time travel).

DeAnne: Oh, it does indeed. Thank you!

Peace and kindness,

Katherine


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