Interview with journalist and comedian Ange Lavoipierre

"In 2019 I was doing a show where I would make someone in the audience pretend to be my dad and I gave him lines and this one guy went off book and started flirting with me. I would have loved some sleeping pills that night."

Interview with journalist and comedian Ange Lavoipierre

Could you first introduce yourself to the reader?

I’m a career journalist from Australia with such chronic ADHD that I took up comedy. It’s my fifth or sixth time at Edinburgh Fringe, I can’t be sure which. Back home I make a podcast for the ABC called Schmeitgeist, which is all about decoding the biggest and weirdest trends in culture, and they let me swear. Once I played the cello at Natalie Portman’s birthday. I speak very poor French and if you’re not careful I will give you a tarot reading. 

How would you describe your show?

This show is what you would get if you blew up The Exorcist in the middle of a bad bout of insomnia brought on by internet poisoning, then glued it back together using pop culture.

On stage, I’m trying to get to sleep with the help of my brain (which you can hear), the internet (which you can also hear), and everything we find on the internet – guided sleep meditation podcasts, ASMR YouTube channels, and Instagram quizzes about which “sleep animal" you are. (I’m a dolphin!) When I do fall asleep, I dream of The Exorcist, but a deeply unhinged version of it. May contain traces of Scrubs, The Matrix, a persistently hostile French inner monologue, and the true story of John Denver’s death.

What is your favourite part of your show?

There’s a part where I host the world’s worst ASMR channel and I make people pull sounds out of a plastic bag, in particular lots of male apologies. It brings me so much joy and I’m always a little bit sad when it’s over.

If your show had a theme song, what would it be and why?

It already has several. Tubular Bells from The Exorcist, Enter Sandman by Metallica, and Country Roads by John Denver. They’re all thematically relevant. Initially the plan was to play a bunch of Roy Orbison because I think he’s spooky but also silly.

What is one thing you hope audiences will take away from your show?

They’re going to know a lot more about John Denver. I’d also really like to turn some people off Scrubs if at all possible. Really though, if you have a messy, strange, unpredictable brain, which I think a lot of people do, this show is designed to keep you company.

If you could add a surprise celebrity cameo to your show, who would it be and why?

I would add an actual Exorcist. No, Roy Orbison. Roy Orbison might be dead. I would add Roy Orbison’s ghost so he could tell us why he’s so sad and how his voice got to be so beautiful and also what it’s like being dead.  

Why do you want to perform at Edinburgh Festival Fringe?

I ask myself the same thing every year. These days, I’m mostly just there for a good time. It’s the best festival in the world, which is very addicting, and I have poor impulse control. There’s also something potent about being in a small room with strangers on the other side of the world and showing them the weird thing you put your heart and soul into. 

What differentiates it from other festivals?

I honestly think the audiences are more open minded, which is handy when you’re mooning about on stage with plastic bags and a piss track.

What is one thing you would change about the Edinburgh Festival Fringe?

It’s too affordable. I also think the big hill should be taller.

How has your background, upbringing and education had an impact on your artistic career?

My mother and father are deeply silly people who made me love the absurd. They convinced me I was special and had something to say, which in hindsight might qualify as a hate crime. They both valued education and art, and taught me not to fear complexity, or talk down. My formal education was on a scholarship at a private school and I didn’t fit in super well. I think it probably made me massively sceptical of power, which is a thread through my work.  

What is your favourite thing about performing for a live audience?

It’s crazy to me that they kind of have to do what you say. That’s a great rule. Also, eye contact! I can’t believe it’s legal to look strangers in the eye.Truly a thrill.

What is the strangest thing that has ever happened to you while performing?

There was one show during Edinburgh last year where I’d accidentally taken four times the recommended dose of sleeping pills beforehand because I confused them with painkillers and I have no memories from that hour. Is that strange? It was strange for me. In 2019 I was doing a show where I would make someone in the audience pretend to be my dad and I gave him lines and this one guy went off book and started flirting with me. I would have loved some sleeping pills that night.

What's the most challenging or unconventional venue you've ever performed in, and how did it impact the overall experience?

I once did a show about God in the beergarden of a pub in Newcastle (Australia) where people were just like, at the pub. It was a nightmare but conversely, the people who were there for it gave it heaps and I love pity.  

Is there a piece of feedback you've received from an audience member or critic after a performance that’s stuck with you?

Once a reviewer described my performing partner Jane as “more theatrical” and I have interpreted it as a direct challenge to exceed that threshold every day since.

What is your favourite thing to do in Edinburgh when you're not performing? How do you relax and look after your mental health?

I make bold claims about how many times I will climb the hill, and then mostly play cards and drink beer at the Salt Horse instead. One year I wrote a poem every day, which was pretty great. Maybe I’ll do that again. 

Is there a show you’re excited to see when you’re up there?

Patti Harrison. And I can’t wait to see what Natalie Palamides has come up with. 

What is one piece of advice you’d give to someone thinking about taking a show up to Edinburgh? If you’ve never been before, what would you say has been (potentially) the most useful?

  1. You don’t have to flyer if it makes you want to die, no matter what anyone tells you. 
  2. It’s not a meritocracy.
  3. Seeing other people’s shows is the best medicine for pretty much everything.

When and where can people see your show?

Ange Lavoipierre’s new comedy show ‘Your Mother Chucks Rocks And Shells’ will be at the Underbelly – George Square Gardens – Wee Coo at 4.20pm from 2nd – 27th August (not 14th) for tickets go to www.edfringe.com 

Ange Lavoipierre & Jane Watt new show ‘Jazz or a Bucket of Blood’ is at the Underbelly – George Square Gardens – Wee Coo at 8.50pm from 2nd – 27th August (not 14th) for tickets go to www.edfringe.com        

And where can people find you online?

@angelavoipierre on both twitter and instagram, and Schmeitgeist is on all the major podcast platforms.

Header Image Credit: Provided

Author

Tom Inniss

Tom Inniss Voice Team

Tom is the Editor of Voice. He is a politics graduate and holds a masters in journalism, with particular interest in youth political engagement and technology. He is also a mentor to our Voice Contributors, and champions our festivals programme, including the reporter team at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

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