Fiona O’Loughlin has been through some rough patches in the last few years, but they haven’t stopped her from bringing true stories from her life to audiences in Australia and abroad. In fact, she turns the rough stuff into comedy fodder, giving audiences insight into her personal struggles and allows them to laugh along with her through her ups and downs. She’ll be joining us in Perth for Fringe World, performing her new show, The Truth, The Whole Truth & Nothing But The Truth… So Help Me God!
“I’m ready to rock and roll, “ says O’Loughlin. “I’ve got my show written, so I feel like a kid who’s just done their Year 12 exams. It’s autobiographical, the gun’s at my own head. People say to me, how do you write your shows, and I say, ‘I don’t, I just wait.’” O’Loughlin says that when she got her start at the age of 36, she didn’t quite get her act right because she was trying to tell jokes. She got some advice from a fellow comedian who told her she was “playing the wrong instrument,” and so she decided to throw out every joke she ever wrote and begin storytelling instead. She says that now she lives in fear of anyone finding her old material.
Essentially, the storytelling tradition began with her family as she was growing up. They all used to sit around the kitchen table and swap funny stories to keep morale up. “In the tiny little town where we grew up, it was boring as all get out. Dad was a farmer in terrible debt that was handed down to him. It was pretty terrible watching your parents like that, it’s like a cancer. I became the one to say, come on, let’s laugh, we’ll laugh. And that’s how I got started, telling those stories around the very cramped kitchen table, where there were never enough chairs.”
That love of storytelling carried through to her adult life in Alice Springs, where she used to stand up and entertain friends at dinner parties. In her recent appearance on Australian Stories, O’Loughlin mentioned that she wanted to take her dinner party self to the stage. She says, “It took 10 years of doing comedy to transport my dinner party self to the stage. Now I can’t have dinner parties anymore because I can’t drink and they’re boring. But I love the stage now – it’s my outing.”
On Australian Stories, O’Loughlin bravely opened up about her struggles with alcoholism and says. “I was really nervous about it because they film so much of your life, and you don’t know how it will turn out. But it’s such a beautiful show, you put your life in their hands, and I really trusted them; I was really happy with it. A lot of people have said to me that my daughter Tessa’s voice was very important voice to be heard. Children of alcoholic parents are not often heard, and it’s very healing, so she accidentally did lots of good.”
Although her current show promises to be about “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth,” O’Loughlin says she is steering away from talking about alcoholism and keeping the material a bit lighter; she’ll be talking about moving to Melbourne, where she feels like she gets to be an “anthropologist of modern life. I’m living in Melbourne now, and I’ll be down on Chapel St and watching people fight and argue. I stand there and watch and the kids say, ‘Mum, it’s not TV.’”
The Truth, The Whole Truth & Nothing but the Truth… So Help Me God! Is on at The Gold Digger from January 27 – February 4 and at the Mandurah Performing Arts Centre on February 1. Go to fringeworld.com.au for full details and tickets.