Alice Fraser : Empire

From inter-personal relationships right through to international politics, power and revenge play out every day of our lives. For comedian Alice Fraser, she’s playing with these ideas in her latest solo show Empire.

“I’m interested in the way the discourse has gone recently with groups that have been traditionally marginalised taking power in various forums," says Fraser. "I think there used to be an old-fashioned way of looking at power – that it was a great duty which came with privilege. What they used to call noblesse oblige. I feel like we’ve thrown that away in favour of a narrative where everyone who was historically powerful was a baddie, and everyone who has been oppressed was a goodie. I feel like that’s both oversimplifying and not a useful template for going forward with new power dynamics."
Sydney-born Fraser, another in the long line of lawyers-turned-comedians, first started stand-up when she was living and working in New York. “After a while, revealed preference began to indicate that one of those two pursuits was taking up a lot more of my interest and brain-space and giving me a lot more happiness,” says Fraser, who when not touring calls Melbourne home.
Along the way, she’s also been a part of the Cambridge Footlights, was nominated for Best Newcomer at the Sydney Comedy Festival and has written for satirical news radio show A Rational Fear and ABC TV’s The Elegant Gentleman’s Guide to Knife Fighting.
Her previous two shows, Savage and The Resistance, earned her glowing reviews and sold out venues when she performed them around Australia, NZ and the UK. Throughout, she hasn’t shied away from tackling difficult issues. The former was about the death of her mother.
Savage dealt with how you write a comedy show at the same time as being confronted with wrenchingly difficult tragedy," she says. "Whether you can be funny about or around those subjects, and how you make people laugh enough that they’re willing to look straight at things they’d usually turn their eyes away from."
The Resistance was inspired by her childhood, being raised Buddhist by a lapsed Catholic and a recovered Jew in a crumbling house owned by her Holocaust survivor grandmother.
“It was about how to be a good person," says Fraser. "My grandmother – who was a wonderful, generous Holocaust survivor – and all of the broken people she gathered around her with her generosity, while at the same time they were all completely mental,” says Fraser.
For fans of Fraser, Empire, which will be a mix of stand-up and song, will have some “family resemblance” to those two previous shows.
“It’s about personal accountability, and in the same way as the two previous dealt with the narratives we build around ourselves, this one also unpacks a bit of that, and gets into some quantum physics, some Disney villains and some slightly uncomfortable, but hilarious, stories.”
By Joanne Brookfield
Venue: The Chinese Museum - The Jade Room (level 3)
Dates: Thursday March 30 - Sunday April 23 (bar Mondays)
Duration: 60 minutes
Tickets: $15 - $27