According to much loved comedian Denise Scott, seeing her back stage is not pretty. She spends most of her time “vomiting in the toilet with nerves and in the foetal position weeping.” Hard to believe our comedy national treasure gets nervous before performing, but once she’s on stage the anxiety disappears and she’s in her element regaling us with her hilarious stories.
To hear her latest amusing tales, this Friday the 29th May, Denise Scott is appearing in the SOLD OUT LearnToLive Comedy Gala alongside the stellar line up of Adam Hills, Dave Thornton, Ronny Chieng, newcomers Aunty Donna and many more at The Thornbury Theatre. She will also be volunteering for the Learn To Live charity as its ambassador in Indonesia. Her involvement with the LearnToLive global organisation came about three years ago upon meeting Yanti Turang. “Yanti Turang is a friend of my son’s. Yanti apart from being a humanitarian worker and a nurse is also a rock musician, and my son’s a musician, Jordie Lane. We met and she just used her charm…well a lot more than her charm actually. She is a really extraordinary person. I rarely say that about anyone. I was so struck by the fact that she is young and fired up to help people. She really gets out there and helps people. I was rapt to help, actually. It’s a very hands on thing to do. It’s an easy way to help, from a comedian’s point of view.”
Scott’s involvement in the charity doesn’t stop there. She is also accompanying Yanti Turang overseas to do some hands on work and raise awareness in the name of health.“I’m an ambassador for LearnToLive now, although I say that, but I haven’t done much yet. I’m going to go with Learn to Live with Yanti to Indonesia in a month and get this, work in the health clinics with her. (laughs heartily) I keep screaming Yanti I will be hopeless. I’ll be a liability. She seems to think there’ll be amusing film footage come out of it or something, that she’ll be able to use to raise funds.”
LearnToLive is a humanitarian organisation that provides health care, health education, and clean water solutions to communities worldwide through the promotion of self-sustaining practices. LearnToLive was started in 2011 by Yanti Turang who observed first hand, the gaps in the health care system, lack of health education, and lack of access to clean water in rural Indonesia. Scott elaborates further on the organisation’s aims:
“They literally take a team of of nurses who run health clinics for women and men in remote villages. All volunteers. And they literally get a team to install rainwater tanks. One of their aims is to enable ordinary Australians to go and contribute something to these remote villages and change their lives. When you meet people who have done it with Yanti you see they’re really fired up to do more. It’s still relatively small. It’s very impressive, people are really hands on. They’re out there on the ground building things and running these clinics. They’re not sitting in offices doing paperwork.” It’s very impressive, people are really hands on. They’re out there on the ground building things and running these clinics. They’re not sitting in offices doing paperwork.
It’s very impressive, people are really hands on. They’re out there on the ground building things and running these clinics. They’re not sitting in offices doing paperwork.
Over a successful comedy career that spans three decades, Scott reminisces about highlights including winning the equivalent to an Oscar in comedy, the esteemed Barry award.“(Winning the Barry), Oh it’s cliched but it was an absolute highlight of my professional life. To win that when you’re 59 years old. Is awesome. It had taken me so long to get there. It felt really good. All the pain and torment of doing festivals where people didn’t come to my shows or I’d been performing to really small crowds. To win the Barry was really magnificent. I really was thrilled. It’s pretty daggy, comedians are usually pretty cool about wining awards.I was weeping like Gwyneth Paltrow… I was really overcome. It’s usually an overseas comic who wins it. There was a lot of support there for me (from Australian comics). Young comedians are going oh well If an old lady can win it then there’s hope for us. I was weeping like Gwyneth Paltrow… I was really overcome. It’s usually an overseas comic who wins it. There was a lot of support there for me (from Australian comics). Young comedians are going oh well If an old lady can win it then there’s hope for us.
I was weeping like Gwyneth Paltrow… I was really overcome. It’s usually an overseas comic who wins it. There was a lot of support there for me (from Australian comics). Young comedians are going oh well If an old lady can win it then there’s hope for us.
Whilst winning the Barry for Mother Bare in 2014 was a culmination of hard work, talent and Scott’s “dogged persistence and never giving up” other poignant moments in Scott’s career prove to be just as memorable: “Performing a show called Comedy is not Pretty and Comedy is still not pretty. (Two shows) with Judith Lucy and Lynda Gibson. The second time we performed together, Lynda was really ill with ovarian cancer. It was an amazing thing to do this show with her. To do that show was really significant and quite powerful. And doing a comedy festival show with my son Jordie Lane. He was hanging about the house, and Lynda had just died. I thought it was a great idea, us doing a show together. It was really confronting to write a comedy show and perform it with your son. He did music in it. It was fantastic and we were nominated for the Barry that year. It was really an amazing thing to share. It was hard, but really rewarding.”
Kudos to those brave individuals who make a career out of being artists, and like Scott quit their day jobs and follow their dream. Scott shares advice she heard from another well known comedian.“I heard Sandra Bernhard talking recently, and it’s a pretty obvious observation in a way. She was saying if you’re an artist you cannot have a plan B, otherwise you will do the plan B. You have to absolutely not have a plan B, you have to leave your job. In Australia, I think my god, what a small country to be an artist in. Comedy, you seem to have a lot more hope than almost any other art form and music you’ve got some hope in as well. Anything that just relies on you writing it, doing it, getting there and hopefully there’s a microphone. but even if there isn’t you can play your guitar and sing or make jokes.”
When it comes to who inspires Denise Scott, it’s no surprise that it’s a fellow Australian comedian who is successful in her own right. “Judith Lucy, who’s a good friend. She definitely inspires me. She hates me saying this stuff, she reckons it’s bullshit. She’s twelve years younger than me, but started around the same time. From the get go she would spend so much time crafting her jokes and her stories. I really learnt a lot working with her, how much time it took to do it well.”
Scott describes her comedy style as “Autobiographical Storytelling with a rude twist.” “I cannot make a thing up. I find as I’m getting older I like being more rude.” When asked how she describes her comedy in food form she answers “Maybe a tasty sago pudding, it’s sort of daggy but it’s got potential.”
Scott’s scene is local. And also conveniently happens to be where she’s performing this Friday at the Thornbury Theatre.
“It’s Thornbury. It’s my dreaming. I’ve lived here 30 years and it’s evolved with me. The more I drink wine, the more wine bars appear in the neighbourhood. The more I eat, the more cafes appear in the neighbourhood. Fantastic.”
See Denise Scott perform on
Thornbury Theatre : 859 High Street, Thornbury VIC
All Star Comedy line-up:
The 3rd Annual LearnToLive Comedy Gala
With live music by The Tusken Raiders
Tickets are SOLD OUT !
If you can’t make it along to the show, donate to the LearnToLive organisation here: learntoliveglobal.org