Christopher Green’s comic alter ego Tina C — a conservative, Christian, country-singin’ belle from America’s Deep South — is so convincing that many in his audiences aren’t aware he’s actually British.
What’s more, some don’t even cotton on to the fact that Tina’s actually a man.
“I can’t believe that people think I’m a woman, but they absolutely do,” Green told the Star Observer.
“There’s that funny moment at the CD stand after the show, when people see you up close and go ‘Oh’. It’s really weird. I think, how can you have fallen for that?”
Green brings a specially commissioned show to Melbourne’s Malthouse Theatre this month that deals with Australia’s history of mistreatment of its Indigenous citizens, titled Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word. He’ll be accompanied by acclaimed Aboriginal country musician Auriel Andrew.
“I wouldn’t go anywhere near the topic had I not really loved Aboriginal country music when I came across it. That gave me a way in, and having Auriel in the show is really great.
“But if I was just wading in, asking really awkward questions for 90 minutes, I don’t think it’d work. It’s definitely a chance to provoke but also amuse.”
Provoke is right — Tina can get away with some pretty offensive statements thanks to her butter-wouldn’t-melt persona and her sweet Southern accent.
“Tina’s all about seduction. She’s very warm and inviting. She’s all [adopts down-home Tina accent] ‘Everythin’s all purty, and this is how I see the world, and let’s all sing a song’. Only afterwards do you go, ‘Hang on a minute, you’re monstrous!’ ” he laughed.
There is the risk, though, that some people won’t get the joke.
Green said he’d experienced a few adverse reactions to Tina’s sweetly-delivered conservative rhetoric.
“I did a Comedy Festival gala in Melbourne when the invasion of Iraq was just starting, and Tina was wading in there saying, ‘Why are you not coming with us?,’ really giving it to the Australians.
“These guys started shouting, ‘Fuck off you American bitch!’ It was awful! I just thought, oh no — you haven’t understood.”
Green said he’d shied away from performing as Tina in America too much (perhaps offering up another conservative Christian dingbat to the Yanks is like trying to sell ice to the Eskimos), preferring to spend much of his time performing in his native Britain and here in Australia.
“There’s this interesting tension between Australia, Britain and America. Australia’s not quite sure where it sits between those two countries.
“Me being British, pretending to be American, performing in Australia — it makes for an interesting show.”
INFO: Tina C: Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word, Malthouse Theatre, until April 14. www.malthousetheatre.com.au