By Scott-Patrick Mitchell
“There is a disproportionate number of lesbians in the comedy game,” sapphic comedienne DeAnne Smith told us. “I think that that might have to do with being on the outside of dominant culture. If you are existing on the fringes it’s easier to see what’s going on and talk about it than if you’re right in the middle of it.”
Smith hails from Montreal where she exploded on to the comedy scene back in 2005. Since then she has carved a name for herself having been voted one of the city’s top five comedians for three consecutive years by The Montreal Mirror readers.
On hitting Australia in 2008, Smith was voted Best Newcomer at the Sydney Comedy Festival and a year later was nominated as one of the best established comics around. Not bad for a girl who, because of her glasses and sharp, sometimes crass insights, the media have dubbed a ‘potty-mouthed Harry Potter’.
“I’ve been doing comedy for four years now,” Smith said of her meteoric rise to fame, “and everything that I’ve set up and wanted to do has already happened… and more. So I do need to set some new goals for my comedy career, but I think just like any comedian you just want to be able to make a living and reach as many people as possible. I guess it’s modest in that way. That, and I have stickers and buttons too.
“But people in Australia seem to make humour a big part of their life and culture, so I find a lot of people are coming out just to see comedy. And a new thing that is happening this year — which I think is funny and cute — is that people are coming to the show and wanting to have a picture taken with me afterwards. It all seems a bit goofy but I’ve started bringing along a camera myself and saying ‘yeah, sure, but can I get a picture with you?’ So I end up having all these random photos of people I don’t actually know on my camera as well.”
For Smith, comedy is the perfect way to explore deep-rooted issues, such as coming from an alcoholic family — something she explored in depth in her 2008 show, Shouting Over Drunks.
“Comedy is a great filter to put experiences through sometimes. I don’t know if we all do that but it’s a fun way to walk through life sometimes, especially if you’ve had a crappy day or a string of bad things happen to you. But it’s a fine line on stage if you’re going to talk about things that are very personal, or potentially awkward.
“It’s really redemptive if you can take something that has made you sad or has made you angry or has had some other negative emotion associated with it. It’s really redemptive if you can take that and flip it around until it’s actually funny, not just to other people, but actually to yourself.”