Michele A’Court has paid her dues as a comedian; she does stand-up, tours, she writes books, does corporate gigs, and she is on the panel with Jim Moira. Recently, more of the latter stuff. She did a gig not long ago with some up-and-coming comedians, one of whom told her encouragingly afterwards, ‘You were amazing, I’ve never seen you before, but you were amazing.’ She muses it was ‘a little heads up that I should get back to the Classic’.
Well at least she is doing a gig next week at Q Theatre. The first half is her doing stand-up. The second half is performed as the Ladykillers, a cabaret act with ‘sequins and gorgeous shoes and fabulous harmonies’, featuring Suzanne Lynch (one half of the Chicks), Tina Cross and Jackie Clark, with whom she is often confused for. They were both in a show called ‘Mum’s the Word’ with some English actresses, for whom it was all too much and had to run their names together, calling them both JackieMichele. She can’t see it herself but they are both of a certain age, dark (brunette, can tan) and funny. There will be laughter and liquor and ‘I hope’ dancing in the aisles. She is looking forward to it.
We are meeting in the Organic Cafe, Birkenhead (excellent shortbread) because Michele both likes to support the local shops, and to remind those South of the Harbour Bridge that there is civilisation on the other side. Michele does all her Christmas shopping here. The suburb has everything from fashion to fishmongers, and there is even an art gallery and an embroidery shop. ‘Probably not embroidery,’ she admits. ‘I want wellies,’ I tell her. She agrees wellies are good. (‘Under fifty dollars’ I pipe up). She keeps meaning to bring back some voodoo gumboots from New Orleans, with a chopped off toe, cowboy heel and decorated in skulls and flowers. I get boot envy.
Every year they go to New Orleans, and usually work Las Vegas too, but this time it is husband Jeremy Elwood’s 40th and they decided to celebrate in a place where no one knows their name. And then thwarted the plan by visiting Disney World with a birthday badge, requiring all the Disney staff to hail them on sight, ‘Happy Birthday, Jeremy!’ She loved it. Has she always been funny? I ask. Oh, yes. It ran in the family. Her grandmother apparently used to sneak up behind her mother in the supermarket and ask, ‘How’s your mother?’ Her mother would always answer quite seriously before realising who it was. The tiny Michele was delighted by it, every single time.
I ask if she prefers the writing, or the performing, but it’s a little like asking her which is her favourite child. She is following up Things I Should Have Told My Daughter with a book on how people get together. The rules are that they have to have been together for fifteen years, long enough for the relationship to be solid. How long have you and Jeremy been together? I ask. Sixteen years, she says, and laughs. She says her in-box at the moment is the exact opposite of Nicky Hager’s with Dirty Politics; full of delicious stories.
I ask her what she wants for Christmas and leave her no time to answer. ‘Colouring-in books?’ Neither of us have tried it, she’s not a doodler, but considering how you now have a big tin of pencils in every shade and not just six primary colours in a plastic envelope, we agree, yeah, why not, yeah. ‘I’m into it’, she says, turning full circle. Michele is very nice, disarmingly so. I can be acid-tongued, she says. ‘What’s the quote? – Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.’ Nevertheless, Michele is a comedian who connects people more than she divides them, who makes you feel that we are all in the same boat. ‘The great thing about comedy,’ she says, ‘is that people feel better at the end of a comedy show than when they come in’. In her case, I believe this is true.
Michele A’Court and The Ladykillers
Q Theatre, 17 December