Fiona O’Loughlin performs Greatest Hits
What better way to celebrate your last yen years in comedy than to put together your greatest hits? For this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Fiona O’Loughlin has chosen a story from every show she’s done for the last ten years and she’s also giving fans the chance to vote for their favourites as well.
On her Facebook fan page, you can leave suggestions for what stories you’d like to hear and each night she will take five requests. As was the case during her recent Adelaide Fringe season of Greatest Hits, her son (one of the five children she’s famous for having in Alice Springs) then texts the requests through to her before each show. It’s as much fun for O’Loughlin as it is her audience “I haven’t heard this story myself for nine years!” she’d hear herself saying on stage, oftentimes cracking up with the audience as she re-told her autobiographical tales.
Being able to recall such old material on the spot is quite a skill. O’Loughlin says that she could never pass an exam at school but has what she calls “a photographic emotional memory”. So since all her stories are based in truth, all she needs is a trigger to remember them and, as a result, doesn’t need to rehearse.
Looking back over her very successful career, which has taken her to festivals around the world and seen her appear on countless TV shows, she says it took her a while to find her voice as a comedian. When she first started, she was trying to do jokes but soon realised she needed to be the person she was at dinner parties in front of an audience, which is why her material has really evolved into an anecdotal style. “Now it really does feel like a dinner party – just one with 300 people, and I’m not going to feed you and I do all the talking,” she laughs.
Greatest Hits contains some of her favourite anecdotesplus also twenty minutes of new material. For O’Loughlin, newly sober, these classics now have a fresh dimension to them.
“Because I’ve sharpened my tools, what I’ve loved about performing sober is you’re so in charge. They’re just so much better in the re-telling,” she says, when in Melbourne for a corporate gig. In addition to Greatest Hits, O’Loughlin will also be performing a one-night-only encore performance of her show, On A Wing And A Prayer. The show, which was nominated for a 2010 Helpmann Award for Best Comedy Performer, deals specifically with her battle with alcoholism, which made the national papers after she collapsed on stage during a show in Brisbane back in 2009.
Whilst O’Loughlin says there was a time when “vodka was as important as the microphone” she’s since been in rehab (or what she calls “my 28-day special lie down”) and now has a poignant two-hour show that has its moments of pathos but is also “a real celebratory show. Not everything belongs in the shame box; there were some notoriously good times,” she says.
Fiona O’Loughlin performs Greatest Hits at The Arts Centre Fairfax Studio from April 15 – April 17 and April 22 – April 24. It’s at 6.30pm Friday – Saturday and 5.30pm on Sundays. Tickets are $49/$44 and available from Ticketmaster online, 1300 660 013, theartscentre.com.au, 1300 182 183 and at the door. She also performs On A Wing And A Prayer at The Arts Centre Playhouse on Saturday April 2 at 6pm. Tickets are $45 - $52 and available through the same outlets.