Alice Fraser: 'I used to be worried about coming across as too academic or neurotic or silly or weird'

This article is from 2019

Alice Fraser: 'I used to be worried about coming across as too academic or neurotic or silly or weird'

credit: Steve Ullathorne

Australian stand-up delves into notions of truth, identity and fear with new show Mythos

Alice Fraser has made a series of thought-provoking and highly personal Fringe shows for a number of years, while 2018's affair featured an AI sidekick attempting to perform their own stand-up set. With new show Mythos, she's delving into notions of truth, identity and fear.

How did it feel to have a sidekick in your show last year? Will you be deploying anything in the same technologically-challenging vein this time around?
It was a lot of fun for me to have a sidekick on stage, even one that I've made mechanically. I started in improv and sketch comedy at university and had missed the rhythm of writing for two voices. It lets you bounce two sides of an idea around without sounding like you're sitting on the fence. This year there's very little tech, just me and the banjo and maybe a few little jazzy moments of tech wizardry to spice things up.

Does the word 'truth' have any meaning anymore?
I believe in truth, though nowadays it's certainly lost a lot of its power to influence people's behaviour. The really lovely and useful idea that the world changes according to your subjective experience has been warped into a holistic sense that there's no objective reality at all, only personal experience. Which is one thing when you're in a comedy show, deciding whether it's funny or not funny (secret clue: if you think it's funny, it is; if you think it's not, it's not) but it's another thing when you're talking about facts or science or war. I think the word that's lost the most meaning is 'shame'. Politicians have always lied, but at least they used to be embarrassed when they were caught doing it.

Are you likely to go along to see Stephen Fry's show at the International Festival, curiously also entitled Mythos?
I'm a long-time fan of Fry's work, and if I can get a ticket, I'd love to go along. I used to say my ideal career in this industry would look something like Stephen Fry's, because he's allowed to do silly things and smart things and serious things without anyone telling him it's 'off brand'. When I decided on the name Mythos for my show, I knew he had put out a book, but I would never have imagined he'd be doing a show at the same festival as me. I can't really conceive of being in direct competition with Stephen Fry; in my mind, he's in a different universe of glory.

And how would you react if you glimpsed Mr Fry in the audience at one of your shows?
I'd probably go all hot and fizzy and pretend I hadn't noticed him. Unless he heckled, then I'd hammer him. No free passes. I once had to take down a drunk cousin in a show, and I'd do it again.

What would constitute a successful August for you?
If the show is as good as I can make it, and people can enjoy what I'm trying to do, I'll be happy. If I'm ridden through the streets on a chariot with a laurel wreath suspended over my head and a servant whispering about mortality into my ears, I'd probably be even happier.

How would you say you have progressed as a comic in the past five years? And where do you see yourself, comedically speaking, in five years' time?
I think I'm more relaxed on stage these days, and I can let my joy show through more. I used to feel more worried about losing the audience or coming across as too academic or neurotic or silly or weird. Now I embrace those bits of my personality and have a much better time. In five years, I'd like to be Stephen Fry.

Alice Fraser: Mythos, Gilded Balloon Teviot, 3–26 Aug (not 12), 8.45pm, £11–£12 (£10). Previews 31 Jul–2 Aug, £7.

Alice Fraser: Mythos

  • 3 stars

Gag Reflex in Association with TGA and Frontier Comedy Alice Fraser has been lying to herself. But aren't we all? In Mythos, she takes on the stories and lies that we tell ourselves about ourselves and each other. In this clever and very funny show Alice (co-host of The Bugle) asks: Is beauty truth? Is truth beautiful?