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 in The Looking Glass
Celia Pacquola’s inexorable rise into the Australian comedy A-list takes another step forward. Not just because she’s playing the 1,000-seater Comedy Theatre; but because she’s doing so with an hour of smart, witty self-deprecating material with mass appeal.
‘So I’m single…’ has become such a familiar comedy set-up that it’s one of the icebreakers Zoe Coombs Marr uses to identify her alter-ego Dave as a hideous hack. But Pacquola – who insists she’s happy with that relationship status even though she’s well aware no one will believe that – makes it her own. She manages to offer anecdotes from her dalliance with internet dating that are amusing enough to override the fact this is familiar stand-up territory. And even that old staple of farting in front of your partner is given a new, if icky, perspective.
The singledom (which she uses cold, hard science to justify as the sensible choice) fits nicely into her shtick as a functional stuff-up: 33, borderline alcoholic and inattentive to detail. Sure, playing such a big room might look impressive, she argues, but ‘in the real world’ she is a mess of insecurities, troubling fantasies and harsh intolerances.
Most of her litany of bugbears are dismissed with a pithy putdown, and make the audience instinctively empathise, as she puts the room on the same judgmental wavelength. If you thing toe-rings are a turn-off, she’s with you… which sparks an aside leading to a memorable bit of silly linguistic logic. Such love of wordplay means she’s not above the occasional ‘dad joke’ now and again.
While her failings are core to the set, she has little time for nonsense from others. Reading an extract from supermodel Miranda Kerr’s book allegedly empathising with insecure teens might seem like low-hanging fruit, but her brisk mockery nails it.
The show comprises lots of quite short routines, such as visiting a cat cafe or accidentally finding herself Melbourne’s scrawny second Avalon. Not every one zings, but nor does the energy ever lull, either as the pace is fast and her personality engaging.
Her delivery trick of leaving just a beat or two after a potentially mean-spirited line before breaking into a cheeky smile, is endearing and effective, despite being a slightly learned technique – while she uses her acting chops on display in the sitcom Utopia (or Dreamland in the rest of the world) to restrained effect.. except when stupidly mimicking a guinea pig, when she properly goes for it.
And with such a wide-ranging set, there’s sure to be something for everybody. It probably won’t be too long until 1,000 seats aren’t enough.