Search Browse On This Day Map Quotations Timeline Research Free Datasets Remembered About Contact

Laughing out loud

Fri 22 Apr 2011 In: Performance View at Wayback View at NDHA

There are probably rock stars who get less female attention than comedian Urzila Carlson. The South African ex-pat is currently tearing up the comedy circuit with her no-holds-barred brand of humour, leaving a trail of newly-questioning straight women in her wake. Well it's not as kinky as it sounds. Carlson is in a monogamous and committed relationship. She just has some kind of on-stage effect that leaves straight women hitting on her all time. "After gigs straight chicks come up to me," she says. "Because in the gig they are sitting there processing going 'yeah I could fuck a woman' and then they have a few wines and say 'yeah I could fuck that woman'," she says, recalling that after a recent show in Papakura a woman came up to her and said "I could kiss you ... I just want to kiss your kissable lips. I just want to put my tongue in your mouth and my husband's right there," with Carlson replying "Yeah and my girlfriend's right there," before walking away. A woman from a Ponsonby show once grabbed her, nuzzled her neck and started kissing her, leaving Carlson to push her away by the forehead, while a woman at Adelaide Fringe Festival left such a trail of lipstick over her another female comedian had to tell her to get lost, before telling Carlson "fuck man, these straight chicks are crazy." The comedian says it happens all the time with straight women, as her girlfriend sighs and nods her head in agreement. "The lesbians leave me alone," Carlson say. They come up to me and say they enjoyed the show. But with straight chicks I say 'I have a girlfriend' and they say 'I could totally do a woman'. It doesn't even register." Carlson never tells straight-majority audiences she is a "lesbitarian" at the start of her shows, she waits till she gets about ten minutes in. "They need to love me first, before I say it. Because it doesn't matter how nice the audience is, whenever I reveal it they go really quiet. Because they're not sure how to react to it. I have this whole bit that I do to say 'you've gone a bit quiet' and then how 'I'm not a heterophobe' and then I say 'you're probably worried because you think if you liked me up until now that makes you gay - it does'. You know, this whole thing to get them back. Because if I start a gig, especially in Australia, and say immediately I'm a lesbian, they're quiet the whole show. Not that I think they're homophobic, they just don't know how to react." With a gay audience, it can go either way. She says last year she had a bunch of gay men and drag queens come to her show and they loved a piece she did about 'the different types of lesbians'. The following night a group of butch lesbians came in and they didn't like it at all. "It's the same as if I do a gig in Te Awamutu I'm a little ... well ... they still burn their gays, you know?" Carlson fell into comedy in 2008 at the urging of colleagues, who presented her with a coffee maker and cups, plus a fake contract to do an open mic night at The Classic, which she had to sign in front of everyone. She took on the challenge and took to the stage, not realising she had actually entered a contest. She was utterly shocked when she received a call from the owner saying she made it through to the semi-finals. Carlson was hesitant at first, saying she only ever entered as a joke. However at his urging she took part and made it through to the final. From there the owner kept booking her for gigs and six months later she won the Comedy Guild's Best Newcomer prize. "It's just been massive since then," she reflects. "It's been amazing." Last year she added the the award for New Zealand's Best Female Comedian to her trophy case - and she is currently nominated for the creme de la creme of New Zealand comedy - The Billy T Awards. Run by the New Zealand Comedy Trust, the awards aim to inspire fledging comedians and guarantee the growth of the live comedy circuit. Previous winners include Paul Ego; Jan Maree; Ben Hurley; Dai Henwood; Justine Smith; Sam Wills; Steve Wrigley; and last year's winner Rhys Mathewson - the youngest ever recipient of the Billy T Award. Carlson had to go through a gruelling set of auditions in front of a panel of around 15 judges to get into the finals. She says the next day most people had heard through the grapevine whether they had made the cut or not, but by 3pm she hadn't heard anything. Then she received a call telling her she was through, which she says what “a bit of an unexpected mindfuck”. Whether she wins or not, the nomination has catapulted her career forward and her phone has been running hot since. “I'm just going to milk it for all it's worth,” she laughs. Final judging for the Billy T Awards will take place on the Last Laughs festival night. For now she is concentrating on her show The Truth According To Urzila Carlson which she will perform at The Basement from May 17 – May 21. The show is all about lies, she explains: "basically how nobody will be able to recognise the truth if it attacks them in a dark alley, because basically we all lie, we all get lied to everyday. Even two-year-olds lie. It's born into us. It's a genetic thing, it's just natural." She says the show includes audience interaction at the end, but not the scary kind, "it's not confrontational with normal stand up where people feel they could get picked on. It's not like that at all." Carlson is a full-time comedian now, leaving her advertising career behind in the hunt for a living from laughs. She will be onstage in Wellington for the Matariki Festival and Queenstown for the Winter Festival. She is resolute that she will not stress about the Billy T Award, pointing out there is really strong competition. She says she just wants to concentrate on enjoying her show which she loved writing, "because if I stress about it it'll show," she says. "The thing with when you're on stage is if you have fun the audience will have fun." Having fun shouldn't be too much of a challenge for someone who clearly loves her job; "People always say 'you must have so much fun, you hang out with all these comedians and drink on the job and you travel' and yeah, I do all of that. I can't think of anything negative." Jacqui Stanford - 22nd April 2011    

Credit: Jacqui Stanford

First published: Friday, 22nd April 2011 - 4:26pm

Rights Information

This page displays a version of a article that was automatically harvested before the website closed. All of the formatting and images have been removed and some text content may not have been fully captured correctly. The article is provided here for personal research and review and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of If you have queries or concerns about this article please email us