q&a: comedian pippa evans
Pippa Evans is a comedian who isn’t afraid to tackle controversial topics. Fascinated by her performance, Bipolar, at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, I sat down with Evans to discuss comedy, feminism and her outspoken character Loretta Maine.
While your character, Loretta Maine, is quite bawdy and shocking, a lot of what she says is thought-provoking. Do you think comedy can be a way of saying things that may otherwise be unsaid?
Well I am glad you think Loretta is thought-provoking because I also love cock jokes so happy to have found a balance! It’s a great way to discuss all sorts of things without being preachy. I never set out to “make people think”. I just like making people laugh and often we laugh at the ridiculousness of ourselves. Jokes can make points without us even realising. And Loretta also helps with that because she can take to an extreme that perhaps I couldn’t if I was performing as myself.
Carefree is a “feminine hygiene” company, and they said vagina in an ad last year; it was pretty much the most complained about ad of the year. Why do you think people are afraid of the word vagina?
I think it’s because we are told from childhood not to say “vagina”. We say all sorts of weird words instead. Baby words. But actually it is a sexual organ not a teddy bear. Even when I talk to my doctor I find myself saying “my down belows” or some such rot. VAGINA! It’s like we’re scared to admit it’s really there.
A lot of your songs have a feminist undertone. Do you describe yourself as feminist? How do you feel about women (particularly celebrities) who distance themselves from the label?
Well, I guess the problem is the word Feminist has for so long been associated with shouting, irritating people (as with most movements, to begin with they needed to be so to get their point across) and for a while I didn’t like to say I was a Feminist because I felt it meant I was hairy and didn’t wear a bra and hated men. And I think that is why people distance themselves from it.
I think it is hard to know what we are supposed to be doing as young women. We are told to stand up for our rights but still be pretty and funny but know our place and run big business but stay at home and be mothers and enjoy baking but don’t enjoy it too much and never make women look bad. When really it should be that these things are possibilities, not necessities.
Feminism embraces all women and some like to be hairy and shouty and some like to be pretty and shouty and some don’t shout at all and some use jokes and some hold placards. The lucky thing for me is that with Loretta I can cover all these bases. The basic rule is “don’t shit on your own (female) doorstep”.
Loretta Maine has been “bipolar since it was called manic depressive.” Some people (i.e. the internet) think that because she is so wild, it’s reinforcing a stereotype. How do you respond to that? (Personally, my nana is bipolar, and I know a lot of people with mental health issues, and I thought your show is brilliant).
I mean really if you have seen my poster you should already know that mainly it is a joke about Polar Bears and if I comment on anything it is celebrities using illness for self-promotion. It’s about the ups and downs of a performer desperate for worldwide domination; a self-destructive woman trying to get the life she thinks she wants.
In fact, in Edinburgh, one reviewer complained that there were not enough jokes about Bipolar, so I guess you can’t please everyone!
Also, I’ll take this opportunity to promote my cousin’s book – Memories of Mania by Kim Evans. During his manic episodes he thought he was the Messiah. He is more qualified to comment on Bipolar than I.
On a lighter note, LM is the love child of Tim Minchin and Alice Cooper. What inspired the LM image?
It was inspired by too many mornings waking up, bleary eyed with make up down my face. I wanted her to look like a rock chick who had been out all night too many times. Loretta is the worst version of us all.
Any plans for your time in Australia? Have you found any good coffee shops (inside joke)?
I am doing the Roadshow later this year so will get to tour about a bit with that. Exciting! I have already met Dr Karl Kennedy, apologies, so that was a life goal achieved. I saw him in Pantomime in 2005 (?) he was excellent. Coffee shops? I haven’t really seen any…
Finally, who else do you recommend seeing at the festival?
Juliette Myers, Max and Ivan and The Idiots of Ants.
Thanks so much for your time!
Loretta Maine’s ‘Bipolar’ is running until the 21st of April as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, with shows starting at 8.30pm Tues-Sat, and 7.30pm Sun, and lasting for an hour. Tickets are between $25.50 – $31.50 and Loretta Maine’s CD ‘Bipolar’ is available after the show for $10.