5 Questions: 'Mispronounced'
27 March—8 April, 2018
Comedians Raewyn Pickering and Urvi Majumdar want to share some of their strangest interactions in the off-beat aspects of daily life. Sick of having to correct every MC on how to pronounce their names, Raewyn and Urvi have teamed up to create their own show for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.
How did you meet each other – and how did the show come about?
Raewyn: Urvi and I met doing comedy nights, and I always thought her stories were so great—she uses these clever throwaway lines that you would just miss if you weren’t paying attention. I just really liked her, so asked if she was thinking of doing a show next year, and if she’d want to do one together, she was on board, so we’ve been planning ever since!
Urvi: I was somehow convinced arbitrarily on waiting five years before doing a show but it didn’t take much once Raewyn asked me to change my mind! I am very glad she did now, it’s been invaluable having someone reliable and talented to work with and a useful exercise learning how to build a show from scratch. I knew I would be proud of anything we created together because I had seen and enjoyed Raewyn’s performances before and thought she had a unique and surprising angle on a range of topics.
What is this show about? Was it inspired by anything?
Raewyn: It’s a culmination of our best stand up material, stuff that we’ve been working really hard on for the past year and are ready to show to our friends and enemies. The title just came pretty quickly as we both have unusual names, which are often either mispronounced or sometimes we are just assigned new names—I have been introduced onstage as Raymond, and even once as Darwin. The crowd got really excited, then really disappointed, then really excited again. It was a rollercoaster.
Urvi: One of the things we have learnt is that it’s really hard to create a brand… or even sentences which explain what we do! Loosely this show is a way for us to tell stories which we find memorable and silly and offer our audiences a snapshot into our mentalities. We both had experiences of being ‘others’ to the ‘normal’ urban Melbourne society at varying stages in our lives and much of our humour comes from these observations. It’s also just a bunch of stories and jokes that are whole heap of fun!
How would you describe your humour?
Raewyn: Mmm that’s a tough one because I think I find lots of different things funny. A lot of my stories tend to be part clever, part totally silly though, and I quite enjoy flipping an audience, like they might initially be grossed out by me eating sheep poo, but then they kind of realise everyone’s had things backfire when they try to outsmart someone. Haven’t they? Please say yes.
Urvi: I have been told it can be dark and satirical but to me that just seems normal… (am I a psychopath!?) People say I speak in an understated way at times but can be quite sassy too. Sometimes my humour is self-deprecating whereas at other times I feel I have the audience on board by mocking characters who deserve it (never the under-dog don’t worry!) I guess I love watching people like Maria Bamford and Sarah Silverman so I channel elements of their voices sometimes.
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
Raewyn: Not really, sometimes I get really nervous and might have to do some breathing exercises, but other times I’ll be pushing people aside saying, 'I GOT THIS.' I never know which gigs I might be anxious about, like sometimes I’ll be more nervous about a small free room where everyone’s laughing than a big paid room where someone’s just bombed—you just can’t predict it. I always perform better though if I have a good mix of nerves, confidence, and beer—too much of any of those though is just no good.
Urvi: I guess I try to look at the people in the audience and shift my thinking to it being more of a conversation with them than strictly a performer-audience relationship. I try to think of why the things I am going to say are funny or meaningful and to remember the ideas behind them rather than word for word recital. I speak very fast and with a monotone when I’m nervous (Daria-esque my friends say…), so I try to remember to breathe and slow down!
What excites you most about Melbourne comedy festival?
Raewyn:It’s exciting because it’s the first time I’ve ever really put myself out there, but that of course is also terrifying. I’m really happy to be able to go through it all with Urvi, and with other friends who will help just make the whole thing really fun. It’s going to be really cool seeing so many great acts do their show too, I think it’s a really inspiring time for a lot of comics, seeing what their peers are doing and what is possible if you work hard.
Urvi: This is only my second time experiencing the inner workings of the comedy festival so it still amazes me in terms of how different it feels from the ‘inside’. I love the energy the festival brings to the city, particularly as we transition into Winter. When I first started stand-up I cherished the transformative power that a comedy night can have and how good comedy is relatable to almost everyone. When someone is performing, the audience is engaged and listening to every word, there is an electric energy to the room. So it’s beautiful that this happens constantly every day and night in so many rooms and theatres for a whole month! The connections and friendships that emerge from going through this experience together are also one of the most rewarding factors so I’m also very thankful to have Raewyn as my other half in this and all our friends who have been supporting us from the start!
Buy tickets to Mispronounced here.
5:45pm, Tasma Terrace. 27 March—8 April, 2018.