Truth or Claire at Melbourne Comedy Festival
Claire's favourite dinosaur is a Pterodactyl. Other favourite things include going to Aldi, her murderous goldfish Gavin, fighting the patriarchy, and cheese. After travelling the globe performing her unique brand of whimsical, soul baring and over-sharing musical silliness, Claire is back in Melbourne to share some of her favourite songs about her favourite things with her favourite people (people who come to her shows). All songs are true. She might even ask you what your favourite dinosaur is...
Carly spoke with comedian Claire Healy about music, comedy and everything in between. Read the full interview below:
Your shows have taken you performing around the world – always singing and sharing your comedy through music. Can you take us through the process of creating a show for you – do you start with theme or a song or joke? And from there, how does it develop into the hilarity we get to enjoy on stage?
It’s different every time! All of my songs are based on truth – so (almost narcissistically) it really depends on what is happening in my life at the time. The first few shows I wrote came about after writing a whole heap of random stuff and finding patterns that emerged.
I wrote a show last year called (Get a) Real Job which came about because I turned 30 and had a bit of a personal crisis about spending my life traipsing around being an independent artist and working crappy temp jobs thinking WHAT AM I DOING? ALL OF MY SCHOOL FRIENDS HAVE FANCY GROWN UP JOBS AND I WORK IN A CALL CENTRE! Sounds a bit depressing, but was actually really fun show.
This year’s show Truth or Claire is a bit of a celebration of everything I’ve written so far. It marks 10 years since I started writing comedy/cabaret songs. Some are from a long time ago and haven’t been heard for years, and some are from only a year or so ago. It makes for a really fun trip through my favourite things. But instead of raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, it’s more potatoes, pterodactyls and weird shit I’ve found at Aldi.
The whole concept of your show is about over-sharing – is there a limit for you? How do you decide what you want to put into your shows and share about your life and what needs to stay personal? Do you test your work on your friends or family before hitting an audience at all to help you find that line of where not to cross or is the fun for you in throwing caution to the wind and absolutely crossing that line?!
I’ve always been a bit of an oversharer, and I’m still figuring out where the line is… I definitely try out songs on friends and family first. I used lure people to my house with scones and then sing new songs at them to see how they reacted. Trying new material is excruciating – especially because it’s all based pretty heavily in truth and I’m never sure exactly how it’s going to go.
I may have crossed the oversharing line once or twice… there is some weird therapeutic feeling to writing a really angry comedy song about an ex, and then singing it at a gig in front of their friends and immediate family.
In a show reliant on music and the perfection of the 50 minute journey that you have down pat, is there room for the audience to change the course of the show for you at all or is it more about using the audience to have a good time with throughout the show? How much of a show for you is about that interaction or have you now got this show down to an art where you can perform it irrespective of the engagement from the crowd? How do you work as a performer?
I like to feel by the end of the show that we have all been on a little journey together. If the audience is quiet and reserved this can be a lovely intimate feeling, or if they’re shouty and want to sing along at the top of their voices, it’s more of a party that we’ve all been to together. Both are great, but both are different.
Being a solo performer I really like to feel like the audience are part of the show, and I like to invite the audience to tell me about themselves. I’m telling them lots of weird things about myself, and people seem to want to tell me weird things about themselves. Some of the really great things end up staying in the show. I have a bit about jobs where I’ve sold my soul, and my stories pale in comparison to some things my audiences have done for cash. Injecting mice with glow-in-the-dark herpes was so ridiculous that it HAD to stay in the show.
What is the most challenging part of performing a comedy show and what is the most rewarding part?
Have you ever tried rehearsing audience participation by yourself? I recommend it as one of the weirder things someone can do in a room by themselves. My neighbours must have some pretty interesting assumptions about what is going on in my house…
Most rewarding thing is getting to that part that you’re not sure is going to work, that you’re not sure people will relate to, and then everything falls into place and it turns out EVERYONE has been there.
Finally, what do you hope audiences walk away from this particular show talking or laughing about?
I want audiences to leave this show singing the songs! They’re my favourites, and some are pretty catchy. The world can be a pretty depressing place at the moment, and I really hope that my show highlights the things worth celebrating. Potatoes definitely deserve their own love song, and we should appreciate the joy they bring. Through song.
RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS:
Favourite production you have ever seen?
So many! Though I saw Muriel’s Wedding a few weeks ago and it totally blew my mind. Utter joy.
You’re getting on a plane tomorrow and you can go anywhere in the world, where do you go?
Everywhere! Getting to travel is one of the best things about what I do. Though after Comedy Festival I think I’d quite fancy lying on a beach on a Greek Island, drinking gin and eating cheese for a few weeks.
Plays or musicals?
Both. And lots.
A hobby you have beyond the theatre?
Theatre is pretty all consuming, but I recently discovered growing veggies in my tiny backyard. It takes all of my self control not to fill my entire Instagram with bragging posts about my fabulous tomatoes. They are so fabulous.
What’s next for you after this show?
I’m about to start development on a new and very exciting project that combines my two great loves: cabaret and cheese. Keep your eyes peeled … Things are getting exciting.
Truth or Claire is currently running at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival until April 14. You can get your tickets here.