Avoid the tragedy – just make them laugh
For more than 30 years Clare Kelso has been thinking on her feet, tip-toeing around sensitive topics and making people laugh.
Ignoring the ‘‘too soon’’ factor can quickly end a bright career, the Herne Bay comedienne says.
‘‘We’ve always seen people come and go, and miss out, because they’ve been over that line just too many times. Sometimes I have to say to the actors ‘ we do not make jokes about aircraft crashing into the sea’,’’ referring to Malaysia Airlines flight 370.
‘‘Woody Allen said ‘comedy is tragedy plus time’ and he’s right. You could make jokes about that in five years’ time, some people make jokes about it instantly but that’s the trouble.’’
Kelso’s improv comedy troupe ConArtists was founded 28 years ago and has become a feature of the New Zealand comedy circuit.
‘‘I think the thing is you can be cheeky – we get away with jokes about Hitler sometimes and things like that. Sometimes we do walk that line very carefully between being offensive, sexually or politically, but I think that’s what makes us successful.’’
Making people feel special has motivated her to stay in comedy, as well as performing around the country and at the NZ International Comedy Festival which returns next month.
‘‘It’s a gift to work in anything, and it’s a real gift to work in comedy. There’s nothing more fantastic than seeing a whole lot of people come in, and they’re bringing in with them a day at work they hate – or they’ve had a fight with their partner, and just forgetting it for an hour or so, and just laughing. There’s nothing better.’’
This year’s festival will see ConArtists present two shows: Oliver Twisted and the return of Sex, Lies and Improvise. Members of the audience will shout out scenarios for the cast of six to act out, Kelso says.
‘‘I mean, most people think that most of us go into comedy because of what we get out of it. We do get stuff out of it, nobody’s denying that, but to see what the audience gets out of it is a true joy.
‘‘For a minute it’s like getting married – it makes the person in the audience feel special for a while.’’
Takes guts: Herne Bay’s Clare Kelso says walking the line between funny and ‘‘too soon’’ has seen her improv company ConArtists enjoy a long and successful run.
Go to aucklandcityharbour news.co.nz and click Latest Edition to watch the ConArtists improv crew perform.