Winner of the Triple JJJ Raw Recruit Comedy Prize in 2008, Laura is a comedian from Western Australia currently performing her latest show Ants Don't Sleep at the Trades Hall in Carlton. Described as an opportunity to see Laura 'introduce science to surrealism and take them both out for ice cream' the shock news was that Ants Don't Sleep is surprisingly light on ants. This is a shame because as you'll see from our pre-show interview below, I got a little carried away with ant-related questions. Sorry about that...
Anyway, the nocturnal habits of ants are just some of a veritable menagerie of fauna-related facts related throughout an evening dedicated to the natural world. Clearly equipped with a special cupboard in her head used solely for storing small animal factoids, Laura peppers Ants Don’t Sleep with Ripley's Believe it Or Not moments from the animal kingdom and practical tips for humans such as how to stare down a duck.
She gamely puts these skills to the test by instigating a game in which the audience are challenged to name random creatures so she can big up their particulars too. This brave piece of audience participation was a charming but a bit hit and miss; the facts were impressively recalled but not always funny and the Good Friday crowd was a little shy. Still, our host had enough one-liners and lo-fi charm to mostly pull it off.
She may still be a little raw around the edges but there is much to like about Laura Davis. Her enthusiasm for her topics - including inter-state aquarium espionage, an irrational dislike of iguanas and why cows need stairlifts – and a nicely awkward delivery meant that the calendar year's dullest public holiday finished a little bit brighter for some of us.
Hi Laura, thanks for talking to Mint Custard. How the hell are you? I am very well, thank you Mint Custard.
What in a word is your show about? Animals.
What in a foreign word is your show about? Djur.
How many people are involved in putting on your show each night? Well….Mostly me. But there’s also my flyerer ladies, my tech lady, my door lady and publicist lady. There wouldn’t be a show without all those ladies.
You’ve been a regular on the comedy circuit for a couple of years now – are comedians a supportive, warm and cuddly bunch or ruthless ego-driven narcissists? I think it really depends on what mood you catch them in. I have a lot of friends that are comedians who are very cuddly and supportive. There are ruthless ego-driven narcissists but it’s less common than you might expect and even then they are almost always highly insecure ruthless ego-driven narcissists.
Your show is called Ants Don’t Sleep. Bad news for ant manchester manufacturers and hammock makers? Terrible news. That and the GFC has practically sent them under.
Apparently there are a few hundred ants for every human. Clearly they can take us when they want. What are they waiting for? I really think that you are underestimating yourself, Mint Custard. And the human race. Yes there are more of them than there are of us, but I still reckon we’ve got the upper hand (with an opposable thumb on it). Watch the movie Marabunta if you can find it. It is hilarious but it's not meant to be - it is a serious horror film. Ants drive a helicopter into the side of a mountain. Terrible... and I am pretty sure that they use plastic spiders instead of ants in the shots. If you can find a copy of it please send it to me. I would love to watch it again.
Are you just sucking up to the ants in case they do decide to attack? No. Even if they did attack they don’t speak English or come to small independent comedy shows. I say some pretty disparaging stuff about them in the show as well, so if they do take over the world I will be the first to go.
Unnerved by the ability of bees to make honey, Eddie Izzard once asked if spiders could make gravy or earwigs make chutney. Can ants whip up any conserves or condiments? Some of them grow fungus extremely well. So I guess it just depends on whether you consider fungus to be a condiment. Or Aphid jizz…they farm that as well.
Who is your favourite Aunt from the following: Aunt Sally from Worzel Gummidge, Aunt Em from the Wizard of Oz, Aunty Jack or Aunt Fanny from the Famous Five? Probably Aunt Em. Yeah. Aunt Em.
Antz or A Bug’s Life? A Bug's Life. I don’t like the movie Antz. I don’t like anything that is spelled with a ‘z’ instead of an ‘s’ to be cool. I’m glad it’s not called ‘A Bugz Life’ cos then I’d really be stuck.
Do you have any ant-related merchandise on offer for fans? Deely-boppers? I have some freebies that you can have if you come to the show. Just little prizes for games. They’re animal bookmarks. I made them myself.
What international act would you bring out to perform at the Melbourne Comedy Festival if you had the chance? Oh, there are so many. Demetri Martin and Eddie Izzard would be great to see live.
Are there any shows that you’d recommend at this year’s festival or ones that you’re looking forward to seeing? I would highly recommend seeing Josie Long, Claudia O’ Doherty, Xavier Micheledes, Josh Makinda, Joel Creasey, Justin Hamilton, Four Minute Warning, Smart Casual, Felicity Ward, David O’Doherty, Andrew McClelland and Josh Earl.
Finally, Adam Ant once declared that ‘ridicule is nothing to be scared of’. Good advice for a comedian? I think so. Good advice for anyone really. I mean it probably does depend on the kind of ridicule but ultimately ridicule can’t hurt you. Not like ants. They hurt.
Laura Davis is performing Ants Don’t Sleep at the Trades Hall, corner of Lygon and Victoria Street in Carlton from 25 March – 4 April everyday but Mondays (Tue-Sat 7pm, Sun 6pm)