“For me, this is the most important comedy show I’ve done because it brings together the story of who I am, the story of what I do and why I do it.”
It’s a horrible Saturday night. The heavens opened up hours ago and the rain hasn’t relented, drenching the city, turning gutters into streams and covering footpaths with over-sized puddles that are just that little bit too big to hop over.
Still, the crowds have gathered at the Melbourne Town Hall for their Comedy Festival fix, huddling under hooded ponchos and beach umbrellas before filing in to their shows, hoping for laughter to take the edge off such a dreary evening.
Upstairs in the Regent Room veteran comedian Mandy Nolan is delivering The Candidate, her thorny tale of running for office as a Australian Greens candidate at the last election.
She’s filled the small room (but for the last row) and the crowd is eating it up, having adjusted to the show’s modest laugh-per-minute ratio and spoken word pacing as Nolan details the motives behind her run, the peculiarities of grass roots politics and the tantilizing agony of falling short by 2%.
Nolan pokes fun at her naivety and at the process of running for office, casting her experiences with an upbeat, self-deprecating swagger.
A self-described feminist who decries the patriarchy, Nolan rails over the stubborn male dominance of Australian politics and how the time for change is nigh, as demonstrated by her daring jump from the relative comfort of opinionated comedy into the unforgiving fires of politics.
There is anger in the show as well, chiefly over government inaction during the floods, the trauma of which Nolan saw up close as she worked with her community to help those in need.
Right after the show Nolan braved the rains to take a chair at the nearby Westin Hotel and field some questions about the show, how it stands in her journey and what type of feminist she considers herself to be.
A recipient of the Comedy Festival’s Moosehead Award Nolan also explains the good it does in developing a show such as The Candidate.