Laura Corcoran, the frisky half of cabaret duo Frisky and Mannish, talks about coming out of the pop-lover’s closet, and teaching the masses to appreciate everything diva through the art of mash-ups.
The recently discovered darlings of the international cabaret scene have quickly risen from 10-minute filler segment to sought-after ticket for the Mardi Gras season.
The secret? Tap into people’s syrupy, and sometimes secret, love of pop, to create an act of twisted delight. Singing Lily Allen, in the style of Noel Coward, and merging Girls Aloud with nursery rhymes, Frisky and Mannish create a kaleidoscope of pop-cultural tidbits, designed to bring out the hidden and often hilarious sides of the world’s most ubiquitous songs.
Staged in a ‘school of pop’, the journey from Greensleeves to George Michael has never been so educative, or so fun.
“We tend to start with songs that we’re loving at that moment, and start to play with them. We are finding meanings within the songs, or layer things on top to recontextualise the song,” explained Corcoran, to whom ‘mash-up’ is not a dirty word.
“There’s something brilliant about seeing something familiar and having it made strange. It’s an idea that’s gone back through theatre history — to take something people know and have associations with and something to change the way you look at it.
“It has a knock-on effect. It changes the way you look at popular culture, the way you look at fame, and songs, and songwriting. You can go as deeply as you like.
“People have strong personal associations with songs, and when you start messing with people’s songs, you’re messing with their life stories.”
Corcoran’s own life story moves from being a torn individual, forced to hide in the shadows, to embracing her devoted love of everything diva.
“I grew up, slightly ashamed probably, of my deep-rooted love of everything pop,” Corcoran admitted.
“I think people who grew up in the ’90s maybe had difficulty accepting their love of pop. It was that Stock, Aitken and Waterman period of manufactured pop, where things were so bubblegum and plastic, and all you had to do was be in Neighbours to get a recording contract. It lost credibility for a while, but when you go back there was some great songwriting going on.”
Corcoran assured that no harm was meant to Kylie she was referring more to the shudder-worthy tracks recorded by Paul from Neighbours.

info: Frisky and Mannish School of Pop starts February 23 at the Sydney Opera House. Tickets: $38. To book, call 9250 7777 or visit

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