Becky Lucas has been as creative a person than any other creative person who creates for a living. If those creative things include tweeting away a storm, writing a comprehensive newsletter about life and ideas, or supporting every other creatively funny people on the planet, then she really is nailing it on many levels.
She spoke to us ahead of her shows at Fringe World (which the run of shows are currently over, but she will be back there Perthians) about living the comedy life, touring around and – as you do with comedians – coffee.
You are in Perth at the moment, the reason I ask that is because when you come down here for your comedy festival, you’d probably be spoiled for choice for coffee?
Yeah I’m in Perth now, but I live in Sydney, I’m just here for a bit. Are you in Melbourne?
Ah, yeah you guys love your coffee.
I heard Sydney is getting good at coffee itself, I’m not sure.
I think so. You know it’s always the cliche that everyone talks about, that Melbourne people loving coffee. I mean, most people like coffee these days.
This is going to sound like a dumb question but have you ever had coffee before you go on stage or normally a beer?
I have done that before, I’ve had a really strong coffee, it’s not good because you’re too hyped up, you say things that you are not supposed to. I always do that when I have coffee, I say things I’m not supposed to. I go on a rampage on social media, like I’ll do 20 tweets in a row.
Is it better just to be calm before you go on stage? I always wonder what peoples routines are before they go out there.
Yeah, it’s good to be calm but a bit nervous so your brain is working quicker, but I often do stupid things. Like the other day I had a burrito right before I went on stage and it was just awful, because I was just on stage thinking about how full I was, I couldn’t move, I was just really struggling up there.
Sometimes I’ll have a Red Bull and it does not give you wings, it gives you anxiety. Not in the right mind.
I don’t understand what Red Bull is supposed to do to you. I’ve never had a Red Bull in my whole life.
Well you shouldn’t.
I’m both intrigued and scared of what it does.
It’s bad for you. They say that all the blood goes to the stomach and it’s digesting the food, but I don’t think it’s up in your brain helping you.
If I’ve had a heckler and I’ve had a burrito [beforehenad], I’d be very slow. I’ll be like: “Sorry mate can you give me half an hour to digest this food and I’ll get back to you on that.” I definitely try and avoid a big meal before I go on stage. Something light is better.
Is this your first run of shows for this show of comedy festivals that are happening around the country?
Yeah it is. I did the first trial in Sydney, sort of just testing it out in front of an audience, so people have bought tickets for it. It feels very much in the trial stages at the moment, so hopefully by the end of this month it will be perfect, but at this stage I’ve still got my notes on stage. It’s all very much about how it’s all forming and coming together.
How is it forming? How are you finding these first few days of doing the show?
It’s good! A lot of the bits I’ve been trying in clubs and stuff, so really at the moment it’s just about getting the flow of it together, and making sure all the chunks fit together and form some sort of cohesive hour of standup. One minute I’m talking about Menulog and the next I’m talking about cat calls or whatever. So it’s all about finding the best way to make those bits make sense.
I find it interesting that you were testing things out in clubs. You have performed in theatres and places like that supporting others though. What’s the setting like in Perth right now?
In Perth I’m in a place called the Noodle Palace which is an old TAFE, actually I think it might be a working TAFE that they’ve converted, so all these rooms that they’re not using have been converted into little venues. It’s very strange. Like yesterday I turned up to do my show and I could see people doing an exam in the next room.
This is your second touring show from what I understand, is it easier second time around? I suppose it’s not easier any time around but what lessons have you learnt second time around?
It’s hard, because you’re putting all the material that you’ve been working on for a couple of years into one show, putting it together is quite easy and you’re comfortable with the material. But with the second one, you suddenly just finished up your first one and now you have to write a bunch of new stuff and you have to have it ready in a few months later, so that can be scary. You just learn, you get better every time you do it. I guess just being more comfortable on stage, doing stuff that is more relevant to how I feel in this moment, it’s more exciting for me to do.
You’re still relatively young in your career stage, in many ways you’re still finding your feet. Is there a progression from the first to the second show, into something else.
I think so definitely. My old stuff doesn’t ring as true to me anymore, because I think I’m just getting older and that’s just what happens. If you had the same opinions as you had last year it would be a bit of a worry. So I hope the people enjoy the new stuff and the things I’m talking about now. I’m really active on Twitter, I have a newsletter, so I hope people who come to show, it would be nice if they had sort of kept up with what I’m talking about and what I’m thinking about, like online. I try and develop the stuff I talk about online into material, which I think is cool.
Is the setting really important to you in terms of performing?
Yeah, if you’re doing something like the Comedy Store in Sydney, there’s 400 people and they’ve all come to see comedy and generally it’s pretty amazing to do comedy there. Where as last night I didn’t have many people there, because it’s tiny, I think it’s a 30 seater room so it takes a little bit longer to get people warmed up. They’re a bit uncomfortable, they’re in this tiny room and you have to create the vibe, it can be a bit of a stress.
You’ve supported a lot of big acts in your short career, and I’m assuming performing to audiences that are waiting to see Will Anderson or someone like that can be a little bit daunting. Do you approach supporting like that differently?
It’s always so much fun to support someone because the crowd are there to see them, they’re already really invested in having a really good time. When I support someone, they’ve picked me to do it so they let the crowd know that I’m someone they believe in and that they think I’m funny, so the crowd wants to be nice to me. They like the person they’ve come to see. So it’s always really supportive and fun so I have a really good time.
That’s actually my ideal performing situation, if I’m supporting someone. No stress on you, you just get to go up there and have a good time.
Speaking of interesting places to perform in, I understand that you actually performed at the (improvised theatre space in NYC) the UCB?
Yes! It was amazing because so many of my idols have come through the UCB, for anyone who does stand up or improv, it’s seen as this kind of hallowed stage, it’s pretty cool. I supported a woman who is from the states, Beth Stelling and she liked me and I happened to be in L.A. at the time she wanted to do it. We did a split show, so like half an hour each, it was amazing, like the culture of going out and going to see stuff is just so…like we did a show at 11pm on a Monday, and it was full. Which is pretty cool.
It’s interesting to see that culture (in New York) that is so interested in seeing comedy all the time.
It was very different, as opposed to Australia. I think Australians are more like “What?! No! My Kitchen Rules is on! I’m not going out anywhere, are you crazy?’ which is totally understandable as well.
You’re currently living in Sydney, but I was actually reading an interesting article about the lockout laws that are currently in and around the city, I was interested in whether the laws have affected the comedy scene in any way? Do you have any thoughts on it?
I don’t think it’s affected comedy, like in America they have shows at 1am, like they have late shows, so I imagine it would affect comedy if it were like that, but you know the shows here, they usually start at 7.30 or 8.30 and so no I don’t think they have affected comedy.
I’m quite conflicted. I don’t like being told what to do, and I don’t like that they’re telling people what to do, there’s something in me that doesn’t like that, however, I don’t really like going out so it kind of doesn’t affect me personally. I’m really more like a soft blanket, Netflix kind of girl. I see myself as the anti, I’m not out there fighting lockout laws. I’m in bed eating snacks.
I just thought I might ask you about this as it’s an issue which affects music venues more than anything, but I haven’t heard too much from other venues hosting other forms of art. For example, here in Melbourne for the International Comedy Festival you sometimes have shows that go on until 1.30 in the morning.
I think it’s unfair because someone who is going out to see a comedy or an improv show or burlesque at 1am isn’t probably someone who is going to King Hit anybody or coward punch anybody, that would be insane. It would be insane to see a whimsy show and then punch someone in the head. That’s a strange venn diagram.
I think the people that are doing that are going out to nightclubs, drinking, doing drugs and I don’t see them coming to see a show, In that way I think it’s safe.
You were saying that you don’t like to go out. How do you deal with that when a lot of people in your industry like to have a drink or two?
Yeah, it’s hard because I’m a woman of many hypocrisy, I do like to go out, like sometimes after a show I’ll have a few drinks and it’s fun and it’s great. But that doesn’t happen that much often after a show you just want to go home, and do something normal because your how schedule is not regular, like not working during the day and then doing interviews and then working at night, I think there is something nice in just going home and being normal. Doing normal things.
Like if I go out on the Wednesday I feel like such a scumbag on the Thursday, while all my friends are at work I’m at home with a hangover, there’s something very anxiety riddled about that. I think stand ups like the flexibility of their life, but I’m personally a little too scared about going to far into that, being too crazy.
I mean you’re already doing something that’s a little bit daunting but also living the party life style it can all get a bit much. But I think so many great comics – because they’re so funny and so excited about life – who should of gone on to big success didn’t because they got distracted by drinking, drugs and going out too much. Which is shame.
I’d like to lastly ask you about your newsletter. You seem to tap at the keyboard quite a bit. Is that something that you enjoy as well or has that helped you in your career?
well I originally got up into stand up because I wanted to write for TV and then i realised that I really like stand up. That’s where my passion is, writing. I love doing my newsletter every week because I can fully have time to think about stuff. I enjoy the feedback, I enjoy that aspect of it. I think I’m a much better writer than I am a performer, but it catches up.
I suppose you have material on a weekly basis, there’s a wealth of material that you can use.
I like to think that it helps, the more you write the better you get at it, that’s with everything, the more you do anything.
Becky Lucas is performing her show Baby at the Brisbane Comedy Festival between March 8 – 12, the Melbourne International Comedy Festival between March 24 – April 17 (no Mondays), Perth Comedy Festival between April 28 – 30 and the Sydney Comedy Festival between May 10 – 14. More info on where to buy tickets can be found here.
Many thanks to Natalia Morawski for her help on this article.