Comedian Mandy Nolan coming to Newcastle for comedy classes

It’s been said that kids laugh about 300 times a day and adults about 20 times a day.

We’re not sure if that’s true, but it does raise a good point: perhaps we should be aiming for 100 laughs a day, as well as [or instead of] 10,000 steps a day.

Comedian Mandy Nolan says people are too serious.

“We get super serious about life. It’s like we’re all being grown-ups and people who laugh aren’t perceived as ‘serious’ or ‘professional’,” Mandy said.

Mandy will be in Newcastle on Saturday for a full-day course teaching beginners how to write and perform stand-up comedy. By the end of the class, participants will have their own comedy routine that they’ll perform on Sunday night in a live show at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Newcastle.

Her most successful student to date is Hannah Gadsby, who’s blowing audiences away with a one-hour special on Netflix, titled Nanette. 

Mandy said Hannah stood out from the beginning because she was “one of those people whose comic voice was very much there”.

“She knew what she wanted to say and how she wanted to say it. All I did was teach her the format and give her the opportunity to have the experience of getting up on stage. Doing it that first time gives you confidence,” she said.

“I definitely think a comedy class provided the kind of safe place for a really interesting and unique act like Hannah, who may not have felt like going into a room full of young blokes to give comedy a crack.”

Six months after her comedy course, Hannah won RAW comedy – an annual competition for emerging stand-up comedians.

“She’s a huge talent and she’s got a brilliant mind. I think people relate to her because she has an honesty that cuts right through. Comedy has changed and evolved over the years. It’s not all about ‘set-up punch’ anymore. It’s storytelling. It’s about having something to say.”

Mandy says it takes persistence and resilience to be a stand-up comedian, along with “parents who don’t mind you living at home”.

“It takes you being humble and being prepared to be average for a long time. You learn a lot by failing and getting up again. You wouldn’t stick it out if you didn’t love it.”

Plus, it’s addictive.

“I was on a panel at a writers festival with Kitty Flanagan on the weekend and she agrees. You just can’t stop. There’s nothing like the thrill of someone laughing at you. I don’t know why, but it feels powerful and wild and terrifying all at the same time.”

She added that “you need ideas, a healthy dose of delusion and a car”.

“Or at least access to one. Some gigs are in weird, out-of-the-way places.”

Also on Sunday, Mandy will run a full-day course, titled Funny Writing.

“I take participants through a range of styles – blog, memoir, fiction and satire,” she said.

Mandy has written four books and writes for various publications.

“I get a lot of joy out of this style of writing – it’s like stretching your comedy legs. For people terrified of standing up and doing comedy, this is a safe option.”

Comedy writing, she says, is partly about “the unexpected”.

“There is no point repeating cliches,” she said.

“You want to be a little bit dangerous. You also need to be economical, which means getting to the point quickly without banging on.” 

When she makes people laugh, she feels connected.

“It’s a very nice feeling. Then I go home alone. Which I like, too. Because the next day I have to face my husband and five children,” she said.

For more details on the weekend’s events, visit mandynolan.com.au or phone James on 0406-398-001.

Driven to Distraction

The most common dangerous-driving habit is eating takeaway food behind the wheel, apparently.

There’s more. A lot of people drive in thongs. Quite a few send text messages while they’re driving. 

Some reach back to deal with children, while others answer phone calls without hands-free gear.

Some people steer with their knees. Some even have relations while driving – if you know what we mean.

Some use social media, change clothes, apply makeup, watch a movie, or read while driving.

These are the findings of finder.com.au’s survey of more than 1800 Australian drivers.

Bessie Hassan, of finder.com.au, urged drivers to think about the “financial ramifications” of having a car crash – even a minor one.

That’s good advice, Bessie. The hip-pocket nerve is a powerful thing. But we’re not sure if it’s powerful enough.

We reckon driverless cars can’t come soon enough. 

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