Bronwin Budget-Slap, Satire and Me.

As an autistic comedian I am often met with people talking about how I am not supposed to understand jokes.

I thought I would take a moment to unpack that, because that’s a really unfair application of a stereotype.

I grew up watching sneaky reruns of Monty Python’s Flying Circus with my Dad as a tween.  I look back at this now, and yes, some of their material hasn’t aged well.   It’s important to remember it was written by straight white men with largely good intentions.  But it was, like most past comedy work, a reflection of the time it was made, even though still a quite subversive comedy force.

BRONWYN
Early version of my politician character “Bronwin Budget-slap”.  Top of her head pictured – with large blonde beehive with a plastic helicopter toy stuck in the hair. 

My Dad seemed to laugh for different reasons than I did.  I laughed because the costumes and silliness in faces and movements (which were overt enough for me to process) made me laugh.  Dad laughed at different times.  

We all do have different senses of humour, but I noticed Dad repeating the words that made him laugh.  My love of word play began, because I wanted to make my Dad laugh.

I’ve pictured here a politician character I’ve wanted to do more with – Bronwin Budget-Slap.  I became a huge fan of British series Yes Minister and Yes Prime Minister in my 20’s.

If you saw my solo show Labelled, I talked about being literal.  I talked about when Mum said “between a rock and a hard place” and me wondering where the rock was.

I literally studied language and power and propaganda as a focus throughout my anthropology career – to work out what was going on around me.  I still look at communication as a series of linguistic devices.  I have formulas for helping me process gossip for instance.

People think I speak well, but they are not entirely aware how much work is going on in my brain to be able to.  This is why I spend long periods not talking to anyone (and live alone) – to be able to reset.

I find I am often perceived as blunt or very to the point and that this is disconcerting for some people.  So I’ve learned to couch that in humour and I really can thank reruns of Lucille Ball for my range of outrageous facial expressions that I find really good for breaking the tension.

When I do improv comedy – I just let myself out and my “inappropriateness” rules, as such I enjoy improv or theatre games.

I laugh at silliness in stories and physical comedy (for example Billy Connelly, Lucille Ball, Sammy J) because to me funny is good story with exaggerated physicality.  So, yes, I get jokes, it’s just I have a different sense of humour.  I think punchlines are a bit passe and the obtusely intellectual makes me laugh out loud.

So I repeat, I get jokes.  I just don’t really think punchline based jokes are that funny. It’s called “one of the many ways senses of humour manifest”.  This, my friends, is why there are so many genres of comedy and why you find some comedians funny and others not funny.

In a day job context, I hate meetings without agendas, I hate surprise phone calls from bureaucrats, I often find myself just going along with things because I haven’t had time to work it all out.  I have strategies and stalling communication scripts to make things easier in these instances, but you will often find me wanting an agenda or a ‘heads up’ before a discussion.

Some close friends will tell you I sometimes don’t get their jokes, or I take a while to process them, but that will because they like ‘boom boom tish’ punchline based jokes.  I don’t laugh at my own comedy, I find it amusing though, that the things I talk about on stage are just my takes on the world, and that is found to be funny.

When I write satire about a policy or political event, I reverse engineer it.  I think about the policy, it’s implications (intentional or unintentional) and I write it in reverse, stressing the ridiculous things in the actual policy.  They are usually just my commentary on how ridiculous I think the world is.  But channeling that into political satire has become a passion.

I also like to “take the piss” out of large scale systems, politicians and people in power, because I don’t want to mock any marginalised person or group.

I performed a piece at Melbourne Fringe 2019 called “The Intersectional Traffic Report” which looked at the May 2019 Federal Election like traffic to Parliament.  I took political commentary on each party and some individual politicians and turned them into traffic incidents.  Why? Because every reporter was calling it “a race to the election” and I decided to take a literal take on what that might have looked like…

For example, speaking of the reported failings of the Australian Labor Party in the lead up to the election I reported:

“At the starting blocks to the election race, neo-liberal bottlenecks were “Shortened” by the labor team. And when I say Labor, I mean a fleet of over-confidently manufactured V8’s cruising towards the voter oblivion off ramp.  Fortunately, their failure to follow public warning signs was t-boned by a couple of highly organized Green hybrid energy policy vehicles heading them off into the senate car park…” 

If I had the budget and some actors, I think we would have acted the whole thing out as I stood there delivering it like a weather/traffic report with cardboard boxes for cars wrapped around the actors dressed as caricatures of key political figures.

So I suppose, with my passion for social justice and politics, political satire is most suited to me!

COVID-19 has well and truly buggered up all my plans for comedy this year.  I’ve had to battle significant mental health issues since a workplace injury late last year as well and those issues have been ongoing, but I am making progress now.  Comedy was going to be therapeutic to that recovery, but instead it’s been disheartening to have that stripped away and shifting to online and video formats from live.  But…I have written heaps of satire!

So, I decided I would start writing scripts for Bronwin to return…so stay tuned.  Be on the lookout for the Alt-News desk featuring Bronwin and investigative journalist guests at https://www.facebook.com/JacciPillar/

Hold Space, Mad Pride Comedy

I’ve been doing comedy almost three years now.  It takes all my hours outside of my day job. It has consumed my life for the last 13 months.

I started doing comedy to hold space as a fat, nonbinary, autistic femme.  None of those words are insults, they are descriptors of diversity.  And diversity is a beautiful, interesting thing.

I just want to hold space as me.  I’ve only started to do that recently.

My first gigs were traditional comedy.  Boom, boom, tish, punchline based standup. https://youtu.be/YS-1KO6pGB4

Then Labelled happened.  I fully embraced who I was and wanted to tell stories, not punchlines. https://youtu.be/Q-VNpvLSxN0

Audio-visual.  Make people think about the issues of judging each other.

Anyway, I’m tired and I’ve lost my mojo and as far as I am concerned it’s showing on stage.  Because I’m starting to measure myself against the mainstream again.

madI did a show called Mad Pride last night and felt like I wasn’t shiny enough.

I let my anxiety rule me about performing in the same show as someone as shiny as Felicity.  But I’m not Felicity Ward (who is fantastic by the way).  I’m not skinny, fast and furious and filled with hilarity.

I’m fat, different, non straight, meandering, making people think and laugh at stories at a slower pace.  But last night I was so unhappy with that.  I lost lots of the energy I brought to the first solo show in Darwin.

I’m too worried about not being Felicity, that I’ve lost sight of the plan to hold space for everyone who isn’t Felicity.

I’ve been tearing myself apart about this performance – until Heidi Everett reminded me to just hold space.

So, I’m taking a break from too much comedy and going off in search of finding my mojo again.  I’m gonna do other forms of fun things I like.  Sing.  Improv. Radio.  Poetry.  Writing.  Just anything other than anything remotely resembling mainstream comedy.

I’m going to hold space.  I wanted to change up what the shiny people do and I need to stop measuring myself against mainstream.  I want to honour the;

Bentfat

Strange

Not pretty enough

Not popular enough

Fat

Queer

Disabled

Neurodiverse

Visible panty and legging lined!

Hold space

We don’t have to be shiny in a mainstream popular culture way.  

Jeanette’s Autism Show: Jacci Pillar Podcast #Aspiecomedy

This is Jeanette’s Autism Show – where autistic advocate and author Jeanette Purkis chats with guests doing good things in the autism community.

In this episode, Jeanette interviews me!

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-3wmmg-a31032

“Comedian, Anthropologist; Autistic-ly solving conundrums people don’t know they have! Her show “Labelled” is a comedic, audio-visual storytelling about growing up Autistic and the politics of neurodiversity. Her serious keynote mental health talk “Normal is a cycle on the washing machine” is about challenging old social norms about recovery from PTSD.  Jacci Pillar is a name synonymous with human narrative and positive mental health messages.  She takes complex issues and turns them into a storytelling journey delivered with energy and warmth.

Jacci has a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/JacciPillar/

And is involved in the ‘Silently Growing Monsters’ campaign mention in the podcast: https://www.facebook.com/silentlygrowingmonsters/

Enjoy the podcast

Source: Jeanette’s Autism Show: Jacqui Pillar

Dodgy parodies

So I love rewriting poems and songs and performing as dodgy parodies – blends of song and poetry.  Parody so bad you can’t look away! Look out #MICF2019 here I come! Sorry this comes up wrong way up – it should right itself when you click play.  If you like these – like my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/JacciPillar/

Here’s the YouTube link if you want to share (please do!)

So then I decided I hadn’t massacred a perfectly good song enough – so I had another crack at both Dolly and Whitney.  Sorry fans!  This one was written specifically for someone who’d had a bad experience with a HR professional…so apologies to decent HR professionals! If you wanna share it YouTube link is here

*WARNING: swearing!*

Pirates and Poems

My special interest as an Aspie is language.

At uni it was the language of power and propaganda. That gets me jobs.

At home it’s poetry and prose. That gives me joy.

On stage it’s comedic poetry, wordplay, political statements through satire and parody. That gives me satisfaction.

Yesterday I performed in a Melbourne poetry event – my first since I moved here.

Got to include another love (costumes) with poetry and comedy and got to dress up as a zombie pirate in a dead pirates themed event.

I’ve poetry slammed twice in Alice Springs and was wanting to continue when I moved. Last Dirty Word I did in Alice I did a serious poem about DV. It was very personal and very hard to do. But I’m glad I did.

Here’s one of my more serious poems…

Me as Zombie Pirate.

Comedy, Commitment and Cash

I never would have imagined my life to have turned out this way at 18 years old.  Now at nearly 48, thirty years later – I am constantly pleasantly surprised by the twists and turns of my life.

You have heard the stories about people who pursue performance/arts/writing careers?

I’m sure you have heard about the lack of stability in income, the need to fundraise and the need to live off the good will of the arts community and the arts consumer?

It’s all true.  What is also true is that those things often make creative people put off careers or keep them as “hobbies”.

This July I made a huge decision and committed 100% to my arts career.  I have a completed book manuscript in edits with a publisher after winning the 2016 Hachette Publishing Mentorship.

I have a non-conventional comedy show titled “Labelled” (part audio-visual, part theatrical, part storytelling, part musical comedy, part costume comedy) that is touring and doing Sydney Fringe and Melbourne Fringe Festivals in September.  I plan to do Adelaide Fringe, Vault (London) and Edinburgh Fringe (Scotland) in 2019.

“Labelled” is a show about growing up different, conforming and finding our way back to our true selves.

It is essentially comedic storytelling of gendered inter-generational trauma and positive mental health through the experience of growing up “different” in the 1970’s and 80’s. Aims to free the audience of the need to label through a story told from a tripartite of sexuality, gender and disability. There is a strong emphasis on neurodiversity (I am Asperger’s).

I have been involved in community radio broadcasting and will continue to be involved in that.  If you have followed my blog you will see a recent period of recovery from a stressful period and the decision to pack up and move 2200 km’s a little over four weeks ago.

Since then I haven’t felt better  and my emotional and psychological health is rapidly improving.

I’ve registered with recruitment agencies to get short term contracts in my old profession of anthropology – pursuing work to fit around my arts career, instead of my arts career being made to fit around anthropology.

I don’t have savings or assets and this move into the arts as a career is a big risk.  I am part of the cohort of older women who have had long periods of income loss due to domestic violence and/or disability and who may not have adequate super or savings because of that history.  We are rapidly becoming a significant homelessness risk.

To be really committed to this arts career – I’m gonna be broke assed and always in need of support and I don’t know how long for – and I don’t care, I feel alive for the first time in years.

I have finally committed to me.

I have been in denial of who I really am for many years, conforming to old ideas from my family of origin and slowing dying inside by doing work to pay the bills, instead of work to pay my soul, my heart and to be able to give to the world something really meaningful.

I’m starting to source a little arts consulting money and I’m so grateful for that (thank you Kerry if you are reading this!).  But it’s going to be slow.

My living arrangements may be with friends for the next twelve months, rotating between available bedrooms for periods of months at a time with people who support what I am doing with my arts career.  I am exceptionally grateful to them for understanding what I am trying to do and offering me space in their homes.

So yeah, it’s a challenge, but never has there been a more satisfying, more enjoyable and more fulfilling one.

img_1985
https://www.gofundme.com/sydneyfridgeforlabelled

At the moment I do have a GoFundMe campaign to help me get myself and my sound technician and sound effects guru Tim Read to Sydney Fringe accommodation.   If you can throw me $5 I would surely appreciate it! 🙂  #GoFundMe

Live a life fulfilled not imagined.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of Spite and Surrender

This afternoon I’m in my temporary living room. Almost everything that is left of my material life is spread out, ready to go back in three large plastic boxes.

Two boxes will be stored in Alice Springs.  One box will go with me, wherever I go next.

I don’t know where that will be and won’t for a while.

There are some strange relics here, much like my strange life. A large vulva and vagina costume I wear on stage. An important shisha, resplendent with purple glass base and floral pink hose, for smoking apple tobacco, a very occasional habit I picked up through several travels through the Middle East.  Three volumes of my book manuscript in very different stages of editing. Chinese language flashcards and note books with my attempts at writing Mandarin.

A burlesque bra. Paints, so many filled note books, so many paintbrushes!

And this note…a note that is the concept behind an abstract painting I want to paint about my old life.

“The familiar meant that happiness was the unfamiliar.”

img_1829
Have you ever wondered about the patterns of spite and surrender in your life?
Spite, when you stay in spite of everything and everyone and you don’t know why.
Surrender, when you stay because it is all you know, and you surrender to what seems inevitable.
My life has been combinations of spite and surrender until November 2014.
I went on a trek in the Himalayas – the Annapurna circuit. It was nothing like anyone in my immediate family had ever done. As corny and clichéd as this sounds, I came back changed. I’ve lived in China, Far North Queensland, Darwin and Alice Springs (again) since then.
Creatively changed. I committed to moving away from the cycle of spite and surrender. It’s been tumultuous recently, but so satisfying. My book is at final edits with a publisher and I am exceptionally proud of that. I would never have achieved that in my old self.

I’m not materialistic, I am experiential. Happiness for me is not a mortgage.  Happiness for me is new ideas and engaging thoughts, discussions and debates. It is travel, growth and all that entails – including pain.

When I moved back to Alice Springs it was because it was familiar after being such a wanderer.   I think I was in spite and surrender mode again.

I suppose I thought it would test if I had “settled down”. But no, I haven’t, and I am glad I haven’t.

Whilst I want a stable income and a longer-term employment contract, I am no longer limiting myself career wise. Recently acting in a job where my contract wasn’t guaranteed, and the Northern Territory Government did not provide enough funding to continue was difficult.  It brought me through a stage of morose reflection like I hadn’t experienced for a very long time.

img_1784Losing a job I cared about, made me realise I was falling back into patterns of old, not valuing myself and fighting for something that I didn’t really want. Although the work was satisfying, and social justice based, it was all about other people and their agendas for my skills. Spite and surrender.

So I’ve applied for jobs that fill me with wonder and I’ve had 5 interviews out of 7 applications and it’s too soon to see any outcome yet.

But my gut tells me my next venture could be Melbourne or Darwin.  I am going to write and perform and beg and borrow to survive if I must, until I reach the next destination – whether that be in Alice Springs or elsewhere.

So here’s the new space instead of spite or surrender – spirit.

I’m going wherever I am spirited next.

Narrative Songs

I have a challenge ahead of me. I already perform comedy and public speak.

I am an interesting and engaging lecturer and facilitator of anthropology. I am learning about radio presenting and have done my first live broadcast. I am an independent producer of complex comedy productions with social messages. I am most proud to get to perform at major Fringe Festivals.

However, I choose parody song in my comedy when I can really sing. A rich, jazz voice. Those that have been lucky enough to hear it are suitably impressed. But I am rarely convinced.

There have been a few ways we have talked about the politics of identity over the years. So many ways we have chosen to look at the notion of “being yourself”.  I know that means, for me, being a performer.

When I was living in China I entered a street stall with thousands of white t-shirts with the words on it “Be yourself, no one else can”.

*Irony alert*

Yes, you too can achieve this goal by wearing a mass-produced t-shirt like millions of others!

I want to talk about our own personal t-shirt slogans that hold back our voices.  Our internal narratives that mean we may ignore natural drives to perform, sing, paint, speak or do whatever it is our heart calls us to do.

The voices we hide away or may not recognise at all.

It took me many years to find my voice and to be brave enough to commit to a natural drive to perform that I have suppressed all my life. But around 2015 I saw the narratives that were holding me back clearer than ever.

Every achievement in my life, small or big, was always accompanied with a certain voice.   Then something terrible happened and I was forced to be creative in my healing.

The below video is a short snippet from my speaking product “Normal is a cycle on a washing machine”.  This talk goes on to talk about how we can use “normal” as a way to limit our healing and how to overcome our internal voices about what is “normal”.  Part of this is changing the way we use language.  Language is a powerful action.

Through that healing, guided by a few more positive voices I recognised some negative voices from my past – particularly in regard to singing.

It came from years of people in my circle as a young person who said to me, “It’s okay, but it’s only <insert minimising language here>”.

“Only a small-town choir”.
“Only a paper award certificate”.
“Only an average voice”.

There are none of those voices left in my life, I have consciously removed negative people from my life.

Yet sometimes the relics of their narratives stuck and I have to work around them.
The interesting thing was that these negative voices are always from people who never even tried to do what I tried. They were always too scared.

These are the people who curb your enthusiasm with platitudes like “well everyone needs a hobby”, when you start working towards making a career out of performance.

Fear and negativity breeds fear and negativity. They suck you in and you get stuck.

When I perform now, comedy or public speaking – I still hear whispers of these old voices. But I acknowledge them and put them in an imaginary rubbish bin that I visualise in my mind’s eye.  I convert the negative narrative to a positive one.

“I am on stage and the crowd wants me to entertain them”.
“I was acknowledged with a review”.
“The crowd will enjoy the parody song”.

Yet, I am still not quite able to sing properly on stage – but here’s some news, I am about to change that.  It’s the next big step in my healing journey.

A small artistic musical project called “Steame Funk”.  Stay tuned.

Oh and if you want to book me for a positive mental health talk or a comedy show…contact my agent at https://www.inspiringrarebirds.com/jacci-pillar/

Life. Oh. Life. Get off that straight ol’ line.

You know that scale that you measure life on? No, not sure?  Here are some:

The bathroom scale.  labelledpromoofftheleash

The work performance scale.

The pain scale.

The romance scale.

In my comedy show “Labelled” I discuss that straight line we imagine…about where we “should” be…and put it away…

Check out this 19 seconds of my show – Little Glimpse of Labelled – about the continuum of life explained by a neuro-divergent comedian.

What if I said that straight line between where you are and where you think you should be doesn’t exist? What if it all is bit in-between? What do you think it would it feel like to be okay with being in-between?  Liberating is one word I would use.

What if it was all just twists and turns that lead us to where…well where we are now?

If you are having a “should of”, “could of” kind of day – 

Give yourself permission to just take yourself off that old straight line…

You are enough.