© Andy Hollingworth
Australia's Celia Pacquola started comedy in 2006, winning the prize for best first-time entrant in the Raw Comedy open mic competition at that year's Melbourne International Comedy Festival after only a handful of gigs. The following year she performed as part of the festival's Comedy Zone showcase.
In 2008 she traded in her waitressing career to write for Network Ten's Good News Week, write and perform for The Comedy Hour on ABC radio and broadcast her weekly radio show Red Hot Go on Fox FM.
In 2009, she performed her first solo stand up show Am I Strange? At the 2009 Melbourne International Comedy Festival where she won The Age Critics Award for Best Australian Show. The show then transferred to Edinburgh.
Her follow-up Flying Solos, played the 2010 Melbourneand Edinburgh festivals, after which she moved to the UK.
However, she continues her career in her homeland, too, with one of the main parts in ABC's 2011 series, Laid.
Celia Pacquola Videos
Celia Pacquola: Let Me Know How It All Works Out
Celia Pacquola is personable, smart (with the exam results to prove it) and possessing an easy on-stage confidence that would lead you to believe that her life was sorted.
But she’s a comedian, so that can’t be true, and as she reveals here, she has a secret shame. She regularly indulges in a vice that would shock and appall most right-minded people: going to psychics.
It is her magic solution to everyday ills; a soothing word about the future, stoking the idea that her life is fated, and not entirely in the gift of her own judgement, which has proved to be so woefully unreliable. Whether psychic assistance is any more bonkers than the quick-fix life solutions so convincingly peddled across the lighter end of the media every day is moot, but it’s certainly a practice that goes against the increasing trend for rational, atheist comics and their empirical ways.
It is, therefore, something of a brave confession to own up to using such a crutch, let alone frankly detailing the other travails of a tough year, from break-up to breakdown (well, nearly). The show is expertly constructed, her personal tales weaved seamlessly around the through-line of the shock predictions of a festival palm-reader. It makes for a richly satisfying journey, with a compelling ‘what happened next?’ narrative full of unexpected turns.
The show also encompasses more general observational routines, from her unsympathetic delight in seeing the homes of hoarders on TV to anthropomorphising the contents of her fridge in an imaginatively silly way; standalone stand-up routines which nonetheless emerge organically from the story – or at least that’s how it appears. This is a masterclass in how to build and layer a festival stand-up show, even when the payoff reality delivers isn’t quite as neat as Storytelling 101 would demand.
As well as her technical finesse, Pacquola delivers with verve, too, enthusiastically using the stage and occasionally producing a prop or to add heft to her story. Her frankness and energy are a potent mix, holding the audience rapt.
Cross the box office assistant’s palms with silver, and the spirits foresee an hour of fascinating and funny entertainment in your future.