As a RAW Comedy alumni Geraldine Hickey knows all too well the stresses of getting up on stage in front of a group of strangers and trying to be funny. As a career option it would rate as highly as crutching sheep. For most, just being on stage would be far too nerve-racking. Add to that the onus of trying to be funny, make people laugh so hard they forget the bills, the screaming kids at home and the pile of dishes in the sink.
Growing up in Albury on the NSW and VIC border, Hickey soon realised that she’d needed a boost in her comedy career – away from her venue-less home town to begin to shine. That boost turned out to be RAW.
“I did RAW in 2001. There was no stand-up in Albury – just drunks standing around a BBQ telling fart jokes.” In those early days Hickey admits much of her material was terrible. “Just rubbish. I had a joke about the Spice Girls – just observant kind of stuff. I was actually never as nervous as I should have been. I’d play at a comic’s lounge to 300 people and thought that was normal.”
It wasn’t long before Hickey was playing to audiences of 3,000, not so normal, and to Hickey that “was nuts”.
Most young comics by nature tend to ‘borrow’ at least a few of their jokes from their comedy heroes. Richard Pryor, Steve Martin, Woody Allen and Eddie Murphy all did. But Hickey believes this happens less than people think.
“People think this happens more than it does. I did see a comic once do all of Dave Thornton’s material,” she says.
These days comics tend to get away with anything, with no real limits on the content of their material. Amy Schumer talks sex with an abundance that would make Lenny Bruce cringe. Tina Fey does political satire better than anyone. Louis CK goes where few comics tend to tread – 911 related jokes as a prime example. In fact there are very few ‘wholesome’ comics these days, singing ditties and talking about their troubled other half. There’s an edge to comedy in 2016.
Hickey’s filthiest joke, a riff about fisting seems relatively tame compared to some of the work of her peers like Jimmy Carr and Billy Connolly. She also has a smattering of gay jokes as a form of self-deprecation. (Hickey came out as gay after first thinking she was just a “bogan”.) According to Hickey all anyone gets out of fisting is a free watch.
As host of the up-coming Geelong RAW Comedy heats at GPAC, Hickey will be looking for people that “have a good time on stage”.
“I look for someone funny – you just kind of know when you see it. I like comics who get up and are a bit nervous, tell a joke and it destroys the crowd. They’re the ones I like,” she says.
The RAW Comedy 2016 Geelong heat will showcase on February 13th at Geelong’s Performing Arts Centre.
Written by Chris Michaels
When & Where: GPAC, Geelong – February 13