Anne Edmonds: ‘Middle white Australia is unassumingly racist’

Anne ‘Eddo’ Edmonds’ new show, The Edge of the Bush, has been described as “Kath & Kim meets Scandi-noir.” We spoke to Melbourne-born Edmonds (who, just quietly, is a two-time Barry nominee and two-time Melbourne International Comedy Festival winner) about finding success later in her career; female comics to watch; and how to do satire right. By Grace Jennings-Edquist

You became a comedian in your late 20s. What was that process of changing careers or coming to your passion a few years later than some of your peers like?  

I actually worked in mental health, in programs and communications and stuff. I had a job, I hard a partner, I had a dog, I had a house, and then all of a sudden I had a comedy career and I was living in my parents’ second bedroom and my partner was gone, although that’s kind of unrelated. It was a significant kind of shift for me, if you like, away from full-time work. But I always had a gut feeling – I think a lot of people have this – that something wasn’t right.

Congrats on your upcoming show The Edge of the Bush. Tell us a bit about it.

It’s five 12-minute episodes of a narrative comedy in which I play four different characters that are members of the same family. It’s me merging that Catherine Tate-type world with a narrative comedy-type world. It was directed by Kate McCartney. And It’s a very female-led production.

Your fans love your satire about racism in Australia- your video Raylene the Racist, has more than 77,000 views on YouTube. Why is satire so politically powerful?

There’s different ways of doing satire. One is to explicitly say, ‘the government’s doing this, they shouldn’t be, and here’s a joke about it’. The way I’ve done it is more through character and showing people who are racist in a satirical way: To me, particularly middle white Australia is unassumingly racist. They’re just going about their normal business and then you dig under the surface and its like, oh my God.

I think in particular Raylene had that about her; she seemed so nice. They seem like such a nice person and then you might be having a beer with them and then next thing you know it’s like, oh my God. That’s something that does keep repeating itself in my work is- that sort of surface level normality, and what’s going on underneath.

What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done as a comedian?
The scariest and most exhilarating I’ve ever done was stepping out on stage for the first time at Edinburgh- which was in fact my first international gig.

Just that thought of, “Is that going to translate and is this going to work?” And saying my first joke and hearing laughter is, I think, one of the most terrifying and one of the best moments.

Tell us a couple of your favourite female and/or Aussie comedians.

Fiona O’Loughlin, Denise Scott, and Judith Lucy were three that I watched a lot in Australia and who I love. And then Geraldine Hickey is another.

There’s also the Kates- Kate McClelland and Kate McCartney- and Melinda Buttle. And Becky Lucas who’s probably a new comic who I admire. So there’s plenty.

You can watch The Edge of The Bush on iView now.

Grace Jennings-Edquist