For fans who loved her sterling work on our screens in ‘90s sketch comedy show Full Frontal, Kitty Flanagan’s regular appearances on programs like Good News Week and The 7pm Project in the past year have been a welcome return to the public eye. But Flanagan wasn’t waiting around for a gig the better part of the last decade — she’d been busy honing her comedic skills in the UK.

“I started out doing stand-up and then got snapped up by Full Frontal quite quickly ­— I’d only been doing stand-up for six months at that point, and I only had about five minutes of material, all of which was pretty shit,” the frank comedian told Sydney Star Observer.

“When I finished Full Frontal I just didn’t have the stand-up skills. The quickest way to get good at it is to move to the UK, because you can do it seven nights a week over there.”

Having perfected her stand-up, she returned to our shores last year.

“And it’s worked out well; I think it’s been good that I haven’t let Australian people have the chance to get sick of me for the past eight years! Give it another eight years, they’ll probably be clamouring to send me back to England.

“My only fear is that people might be so used to seeing me in three or four-minute spots on telly, they might not be used to a full-length show. I’m hoping that at the four-minute mark the audience don’t just stand up and leave.”

That full-length show, Charming and Alarming, which started its run in Sydney in August last year, has since toured Australia and now returns to the Sydney next month for an encore season. On stage, Flanagan muses on everything from her own childlessness to knickerless celebrities.

“It’s been fantastic for us this year ­— and when I say ‘us’, I’m not using the royal we, I mean myself and my sister, because she’s in the show too. We’ve been playing to packed houses, and we have to keep reminding ourselves of all those times we used to play to 13 people, and we knew 12 of them.”

From small beginnings, Flanagan (with her sister, Penny, providing occasional musical support) can now command big audiences at no less an establishment than the Sydney Opera House. She admitted the leap in status hadn’t quite sunk in.

“It’s so funny the way comedians think of themselves. You don’t think of yourself as a proper act, really, so it’s so funny to play the Opera House and get treated like you’re proper.

You’re used to getting booted into a back room and told when to go on, whereas at the theatre you get, ‘Ms Flanagan, this is your 30-minute call’.

“I think, ‘My god, that’s me! I am the grand old dame!’ ”

info: Kitty Flanagan – Charming and Alarming plays at the Sydney Opera House from  August 13-21. www.sydneyoperahouse.com

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