Cal Wilson returns to Adelaide later this month for a string of performances of her show “Things I’ve Never Said” at Adelaide Fringe. We caught up with her to chat about her new show, her husband’s brown shoes and what cats dream about.
The Upside News: Welcome back to Adelaide. We love having you here. How many Fringes has it been now?
Cal Wilson: I knew you were going to ask me that and I don’t know. I reckon it’s at least 4 I would say.
CW: Yeah, and I have such a great time every time I’m down there.
TUN: The city really comes alive with so much talent coming here for the Fringe. Now, you’ve had a year off the comedy circuit but still kept yourself pretty busy with the 30th anniversary of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and touring with Alan Carr, Chattyman. How was that?
CW: Yeah it was great. Alan’s really lovely and it was a real treat to see him perform every night. It’s always really inspiring to watch another comedian perform. Like it kind of sets off your own creativity. Not that you’re doing anything similar to them but it’s just good to see someone at the top of their game. He was so lovely to hang out with and a felt like I’d known him for years by the first day so that was great.
TUN: Awesome, so you’ve been in the stand-up comedy biz for over twenty years now, how do you keep your material fresh?
CW: Well I guess it’s just the things I talk about are the things that bother me or make me laugh, you know. Or if I’ve done something awkward or embarrassing, and I keep doing that, so I keep getting new material. I think you can only talk about what’s affecting you emotionally, I think, because the audience can tell if it’s something that matters or not. These days there’s just so much material with refugees and with Trump and there’s so much terrible things going on. So there are a lot of comedians generating a lot of material because they feel so passionately about what’s happening.
TUN: Oh definitely, and your new show gets a bit political. It’s called “Things I’ve Never Said” and you delve into your feminist streak, your political streak?
CW: Yeah a little bit, it’s about the fact that I avoid conflict and I hate confrontation but I’ve decided it’s time to stop being like that, and it’s just saying stuff I’ve never said before and being more opinionated. You know, in my life I’ve done things like I was scared of the woman who supervised me when I was a checkout operator while I was at university and so I did a different degree to the one I was intending on doing because I was too scared to change my hours.
TUN: (Laughs.) That’s a pretty big life decision to make just by fear of your boss!
CW: I know, it’s ridiculous looking back. The first time I said that out loud on stage the audience just went… “What!?” So there’s stories like that and I’m more talking about how I feel about feminism and getting a little bit political but it’s not going to be all rants.
TUN: Any mention of the women’s march?
CW: I didn’t get to go! I couldn’t be at the women’s march, but my god it was so amazing looking at all the photos. I cried seeing how many people were in that march and the protests at the airports in America as well. So it’s where a lot of people are going and it’s time to speak up.
TUN: There’s surely a lot of that going on at the moment. Now, you grew up in New Zealand. What got you into comedy?
CW: I wanted to be an actor and then I did drama in high school and that was when Theatresports kind of started in New Zealand and we did that at school. A local radio station ran a Theatresports competition and our team ended up winning it. Through that we formed a sort of improv. company in Christchurch and the company is still going, obviously with different people in it, but the show’s been running for about 26 years now I think.
TUN: Oh wow, because you went over to LA for it, is that right?
CW: Yes! We went over to LA and won the world Theatresports championships which was very exciting for us but it’s definitely the least cool thing to win, I mean it’s not like winning a tennis open or anything. But it was great fun and improv is still something that I really love so I started with that and stand up kind of came out of that.
TUN: Yes, I remember a while back now you were on that classic show “Thank God You’re Here”.
CW: Yeah, it was a great show to work on and a great show to be a part of. And last year it’s been really great doing the Australian version of “Whose Line is it Anyway?” It’s definitely not as family friendly as the old version but a lot of fun. There’s been lots of great new people coming through with it and great new improvisers and, you know, even though it’s a show that’s been around for a long time I still think our version very fresh and new and it was just a dream run, a great show to be involved with.
TUN: And are you continuing that this year?
CW: Well hopefully it gets picked up for another season. It’s starting on Channel Ten on February 13th, it’s been on Foxtel already.
TUN: Awesome, I’m looking forward to seeing it on free to air.
CW: Yes, lots of people have been excited that it’s coming on free to air. So hopefully there’s a bit of that for us in the future.
TUN: Now I did have a read of the blurb of your Fringe show and you have to tell me about your husband’s brown shoes. Can you elaborate?
CW: Look, there’s a pair of quite pointy brown shoes that he bought maybe when we first got together, and we’ve been together for 14 years now, and they’re still in the wardrobe and they are getting pointier and browner than they need to be. So I think by the end of the festival they would have found their way out of the wardrobe (laughs).
TUN: So they’ve never been worn?
CW: No, they’ve been worn but they just stay there. You know when you buy stuff that’s too good to throw out and then fashion has overtaken you at the speed of knots and those things should just never be worn again? So I think it’s time to tell him. When he comes to my show I think he’ll find out.
TUN: (Laughs) That’s great. Now just some random questions. Are you a dog or a cat person?
CW: Total cat person. I’m a total cat lady. As I’m talking to you I’ve got two cats fighting on my foot right now.
TUN: What are their names?
CW: Their names are Pirate and Barnacle.
TUN: Very seafaring names.
CW: Yes, Pirate’s got a bung eye which is why he’s called Pirate and Barnacle is just Barnacle.
TUN: What do you think cats dream about?
CW: Revenge. I’m sure they’re always plotting some kind of – hey! Hey! Stop it! Stop it! (to the cats)
TUN: They do get that look in their eye don’t they? I have a friend’s cat who is very revengeful. If they have drinks at their house, the next day the cats have vomited all over the kitchen.
CW: Yes, my old cat who is no longer with us used to wee in my suitcase every time I got my suitcase out to go away. He knew that I was leaving because I’d have my suitcase open and he would have weed on it. He’s dead now. It’s unrelated, he died of natural causes, but it was a very annoying habit.
TUN: I think you’re on the money there with revenge for what cats dream about. Well your show is running from February 26th until March 6th at Studio 7 in the Garden of Unearthly Delights. I’m really looking forward to seeing it!
CW: I’m just really excited to come back to Adelaide. The Fringe is always such a lovely festival. The Garden of Unearthly Delights is fantastic. It’s just magical.
Pick up your tickets to Cal Wilson’s show which plays from February 26th until March 6th at Studio 7 in the Garden of Unearthly Delights HERE
By Josh van’t Padje