Frehd the Clown aka Clownie: Stripped Bare | Review by Steve Bennett at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival

Frehd the Clown aka Clownie: Stripped Bare

Review by Steve Bennett at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival

Frehd’s been an intravenous drug user and involved in the adult entertainment industry. And yes, to use the old cliche, she *is* available for children’s parties.

On stage, this kids’ festival stalwart is a traditional red-nosed, blue-haired entertainer in spangly make-up and multi-coloured rags, with the sort of naive, childlike demeanour that puts her on a level with her young audience. But the woman behind the greasepaint sees the alter-ego as a receptacle in which to keep her innocence safe while she lives a life of debauchery. 

Until now, she has been fiercely protective in keeping both sides of her life separate. But in this bravely candid autobiographical show, strictly for the grown-ups, she offers an answer to that old question – who is this clown? 

How did a happy-go-lucky youth, the product of liberal, young parents, end up running away to join the circus and getting involved in all manner of highly unusual escapades? ‘I’ve got some issues is what I’m trying to say,’ she offers by way of explanation.

She starts as a version of the charming child-friendly act, albeit making phallic balloon animals, but the dumb, throaty, childlike giggle becomes increasingly ironic as she takes wrong turn after wrong turn in her life. 

But the show neither wallows in regret nor serves up her extreme behaviour for vicarious thrills Instead the stories are regaled with an engaging matter-of-fact honesty as they build towards the ultimately defiant ending of a survivor: that all these weird, worrying and exciting incidents made Frehd who she is today. Even among comedians – she’s now a producer and tour manager of comedy shows  – she’s seen as the fool. And would have it no other way.

For all her ups and downs, hers is a life well-lived – and well-told, building to uplifting, proud climax that’s unexpectedly inspiring.

Review date: 20 Apr 2017
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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