Tessa Waters is an award-winning comedian with over ten years experience with both writing and performing comedy. Since 2009 Tessa has been touring her acclaimed physical comedies ‘How to be a lady’, Sexytime! and Standing up/Falling down and most recently WOMANz around Australia to the major fringe festivals. As well as performing, Tessa has also produced a number of critically acclaimed comedic short films. This busy funny-lady took time out to speak with The Women Who about her motivations, life on the stage and combining feminism with comedy.
Your one-woman physical comedy, WOMANz, won three awards at Melbourne Fringe Festival 2014 and has toured very successfully through PerthFringeWorld, Adelaide Fringe and the infamous Edinburgh Fringe. What do you think draws people to the show?
Word of mouth get’s people in and the joy and stupid pleasure keeps them there. I find it really hard to describe in a sentence what WOMANz is, the conversation usually goes something like this;
Them: So what’s your show about?
Me: ‘It’s a dance comedy’
Them: What’s that?
Me: ‘It like a cabaret show without the singing’
Them: Nope still can’t see it?
Me: ‘Well its physical comedy, like clown but not red nose clown’
Them: ‘Like big shoes argh I hate clowns!’
Me: ‘It’s about loving your body’
Them ‘Oh, is it preachy?’
Me: ‘Look it’s just a freaking good time, just come ok!’
Then they do and they leave dancing and squealing.
The work I do is all focuses on the audience having a great time, and comes from me having a great time. I think people enjoy being looked after and loved and that’s what happens in the room, it’s just a big love explosion, a sexy glitter bomb love explosion dance spectacular… from the stars.
What lead you to a life of entertaining others?
I’ve just always loved it. From being a 4 year old shirly-bassey-ing my way around the house, to being on stage every chance I got in school to training in theatre at uni, and making my first show and just following it from there. I love it, I feel more comfortable on the stage sometimes than in real life. It’s a known quantity, even when it’s doesn’t work. It just feels like home up there, like I’m in my favorite dress, dancing in the lounge room, with a cocktail in hand with a 100 of my best mates.
You combine comedy with feminism and a lust for life. Is it difficult to strike a balance between these?
I think it’s a fine line between getting an idea across, getting a laugh and affecting someone and it becoming a lecture or preachy. Especially in comedy where really bottom line, you’re after the laugh. I read/watch/listen to a lot of material and then just kind of filter it through, the acts themselves are not that complicated but the essence of the show comes through in the spirit of the character and me as a performer I think. I think comedy is really powerful, as when you laugh you open up, you relax and are often more willing to discuss difficult topics. Comedy also taps into the absurdity of humanity and pokes fun at how ridiculous we make things. I guess it’s hard to make a good show full stop. Comedy, feminism and a lust for life could be my creed, so I just focus on making the best show I can and the rest will hopefully come through.
What their projects are you working on currently?
I’m writing a second WOMANz show which will premier at Melbourne Fringe 2015. And looking forward to making some filmed content as well this year. I constantly have a few ideas bubbling around in my head, it just depends on which one pushes it’s way to the front. But I love WOMANz and she has a long way to go yet, she’s only just started shaking things.
Photo credit: Tessa Waters