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Celia Pacquola: Seeing how it all works out

By | Published on Saturday 2 August 2014

Celia Pacquolah

Originally from Melbourne, Celia Pacquola has become a favourite at both her home city’s annual comedy festival and the Edinburgh Fringe. And the new show she is performing at the Gilded Balloon this month was nominated for the prestigious Barry Award at the Melbourne Comedy Festival earlier this year. ‘Let Me Know How It All Works Out’ sees Pacquola obsessing with the future, and the ways people try to work out what to expect from it. Trying to work out what we can expect from Pacquola’s latest Fringe show, we threw some questions in her general direction.

CC: You debuted ‘Let Me Know How It All Works Out’ at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival earlier this year. How did it all work out?
CP: Fantastic actually. It was nominated for the Barry Award which – whilst being the most Australian sounding award there is – is also the Australian version of the Fosters Edinburgh Comedy Award. Actually, that sounds pretty Australian too… Anyway, it went really well.

CC: What’s the theme of the new show?
CP: It’s about psychics and fate and my secret shame that, for the last ten years, I’ve been dabbling in that world. I find this area both hilarious and interesting; everything from dream catchers – which I imagine you have to clean out like a tumble dryer filter each day – to tarot readers and crystals, and why exactly a rational minded person might get involved in it all.

CC: How does it compare to your previous Fringe outings?
CP: I think this is my favourite show of the four I’ve brought to the Edinburgh Fringe. It’s very silly and high energy, and is about a topic that really interests me, and with a story – basically I got into a fight with a palm reader – that I really love telling.

CC: The show blurb says you’ve “always been obsessed with the future, but planned for none of it”. What about the future are you particularly obsessed about?
CP: Everything. I’ve always wanted to know what’s going to happen. To me. To us. To the world. Because you never know. And I love it when things that you would never expect to happen do. For example, who knew that fax machines, at a time when transporting the simplest of data through space was huge, would only last a few years, but those little metallic clicky balls that business people keep on their desks would still be a booming business to this day. I am so impatient to find out what happens next.

CC: But despite that obsession, no plans at all?
CP: Not really, no. I’ve never imagined myself in the future. I pretty much wake up surprised every day. Even comedy was something that happened by accident and I’ve just kept saying ‘yes’. Who knows, in five years I could be a window washer, or a French teacher. Well, probably not that one. I was always crap at French.

CC: You’re based over here in the UK now. What motivated the move, and how have you found living in Britain?
CP: I love how many places here sell sandwiches. Post offices, banks, sandwich shops. It’s brilliant. Oh, and there are more gigs than in Australia. Well, that’s what I usually tell people, but honestly it’s about the sandwiches.

CC: Is it easier playing to British audiences now you live here?
CP: I think so. But I like being an outsider enough that you can still appreciate the differences. Just last week I realised why I’ve always thought that the UK was a bit rougher and tougher; it’s how everyone greets each other here. They don’t say “hello”, they say “are you alright?”. That’s what you say to someone who’s been in a fight.

CC: You’ve done some acting as well, in two Aussie TV shows in particular I think, how does acting and comedy compare?
CP: Acting is always really fun for a change from stand-up. It’s fun having someone else write what you say. Plus if you make a mistake you get to have another go at it.

CC: Quite a few comedians have used their Edinburgh Fringe time to do a bit of stage acting on the side. Are you ever tempted to do some theatre here at the Festival?
CP: I would love to.

CC: You’ve performed a few times now at both the Edinburgh Fringe and the Melbourne Comedy Festival, how do the two compare?
CP: Melbourne is my home town and I love the festival there very much. The main difference I think is the scale. At MICF everyone has every Monday off and shows don’t really start until 6pm. Edinburgh feels like a 24/7 festival bubble that you disappear into completely for a month.

CC: Yes, doing the full three week run at the Fringe can be tiring. I think everyone hits that middle-of-August wall at some point. Any tips for new stand-ups on getting through the run in one piece?
CP: Try and pace yourself.

CC: And what about punters, any tips for getting the most out of the Fringe as an audience member?
CP Take a chance on some shows you’ve never heard of.

‘Celia Pacquola: Let Me Know How It All Works Out’ was performed at the Gilded Balloon at Edinburgh Festival 2014.

LINKS: www.celiapacquola.com

Photo: Mark Dawson