We recently sat down with Michelle Brasier, the award-winning performer known for her remarkable work in the Australian entertainment industry to find out more about her career and what drives her. With her recent involvement in the highly anticipated adult animated comedy series ‘Koala Man,’ alongside notable names such as Hugh Jackman, Sarah Snook, and Jemaine Clement, Brasier is undoubtedly a force to be reckoned with in the industry.
In this interview, we delve into Brasier’s highly anticipated comedy show, which will be held at the renowned Soho Theatre in London from the 6th to the 11th of March 2023. What sets this show apart is the fact that Brasier explores a deeply personal topic – hereditary and life-shortening illness, which has already caused the untimely deaths of her father and brother. This illness has led doctors to inform Brasier that she has a 97% chance of developing various types of cancer. Despite this, Brasier is determined to live her life to the fullest and inspire others to do the same.
Brasier’s story has touched many hearts, and her writing style is nothing short of captivating. Her moving article for Vice Australia in 2017 was the starting point for her new show, ‘Average Bear.’ We hope that by sharing her story, we can shed light on an important topic and help raise awareness about hereditary illnesses.
Join us as we learn more about Michelle Brasier’s life and career and discover how she uses humour to tackle adversity and inspire others.
Can You Tell Us More About The Core Message Of Your Show, Average Bear?
Life is too short to waste and too long to take seriously.
How Did Your Personal Experience With A Hereditary Illness Shape Your Perspective On Life And Comedy?
I’m not afraid to try new things and I think that helps me as a writer and a performer to take chances. I’m afraid of not trying everything. I don’t want to run out of time. I think a ticking clock is handy every now and then.
What Inspired You To Use Average, A Bear With A Fear Of Hibernation, As A Way To Tell Your Story?
I wanted to do two different shows in the beginning. A comedy show about a bear called Average whose friends keep calling her from Hibernation, they are there doing shots without her, having the time of their lives and she is stuck at the pre-drinks unsure if she should go. And then a sort of ‘one woman show’ about my family and my life.
But the more I tried to tell Average’s story the more I realised it was just my story in a fur suit. Average is afraid of hibernation because she’s frightened she won’t wake up and she’ll lose what she has. I’m afraid of opening test results. I’m afraid of chemo. Even though sometimes those things, including hibernation, are what we need to survive – they don’t feel very much like living.
How Do You Balance Comedy And Tragedy In Your Show?
I honestly think it’s funnier than it is sad. Comedy and tragedy are very close friends.
What Has Been The Audience’s Reaction To Your Show, Especially Those Who Have Had Similar Experiences?
People are amazing. I hug everyone who wants a hug. I listen to their stories. People come back with their grieving friends; cancer patients come along. People who are dying come. People who are survivors come. Everyone deserves an hour to laugh where they don’t have to qualify everything with ‘it’s fine, you can laugh, I’m fine’. People who are grieving, people who are dying – they deserve dignity. They don’t want pity and tiptoe-ing. They want to laugh.
How Has The Response To Your Show Influenced Your Understanding Of The Impact Of Sharing Personal Stories?
I was worried it was going to be a bit self-indulgent but it’s not about me anymore really. It’s everyone’s story just with different details. We all love and lose people and had a sexual awakening around Aladdin. That’s the human condition.
Can You Tell Us More About Your Work On “We Interrupt This Broadcast” And “Koala Man”?
We Interrupt This Broadcast is a new sketch show in Australia. I’m part of the core cast and wrote a bunch for it too. I really love sketch comedy. Most people know me from my work with Aunty Donna. I just think there’s real skill and joy in sketch comedy with mates. It’s where character actors thrive, I think.
Koala Man is great fun and really collaborative. I voice Mikayla Taylor Mercedes, but I also voice a bunch of other smaller characters. It’s my second project with Michael Cusack. I wrote episodes and voiced characters for ‘Yolo’ too, which is on HBO max in the US – I’m not sure where to find it in the UK!
How Do You Approach Voicing Different Characters In An Animated Series Like “Koala Man”?
I am a singer by trade at the end of the day, so voice work is wonderful for me. I really get to stretch my legs. I love being in a writer’s room creating these absurd characters and then getting into a recording booth months later to fully realise them. It’s a joy.
What Was Your Experience Like Working With Aunty Donna And Being Part Of Their Netflix Show And ABC Series?
The Aunty Donna team are some of my best friends, so working together always feels like home. Shooting the Netflix show was incredible because we were in LA and we had so many huge celebrities in it. I went straight to set after the 24-hour flight and the first person I met, smelling like ass and jetlagged halfway to death, was Ed Helms. He was so charming and warm. He didn’t mention the smell.
The new series on ABC has been lovely – it’s a sitcom so it’s a bit different, but it feels rooted in sketch and the existing relationships we have. The writers’ room for that felt like writing for animation because the absurdity level is still so high. I love working with that team. Not just Mark, Zach and Bro. The other ones you don’t see. Sam, Tom, and Max are one of the most incredible directors. They have a whole production arm that is run by a bunch of incredibly talented women. It’s a family.
How Do You Work With Collaborators To Create Comedy Material?
You play! You get your ego out of the way, press record – think of a premise and improvise around it until it’s good. Make each other feel funny and you will all be funny. Assume the best of each other.
What Advice Would You Give To Aspiring Comedians?
See as much as you can. Do Edinburgh Fringe if you can afford it. Get acting lessons – I came from acting school into comedy and I really think it’s helped a lot. Being an actor first means I’m not so afraid to look silly or get it wrong. Read, watch, write. Don’t write comedy for comedians. They don’t have the money to buy the tickets. Comedy is not about being cool. It’s about making your audience laugh and if you are focused on making comedians like you – you are making it about yourself.
How Do You Deal With The Uncertainty Of Your Health Situation While Pursuing Your Career In The Entertainment Industry?
It makes me hungrier. I want to do as much as I can while I can.
What Has Been The Most Difficult Aspect Of Your Career So Far?
When I first started getting recognized in the wild, I started feeling like I had to look good all the time. I read comments about myself saying that I was attractive. The whole reason I’m funny, to begin with, was that in high school, I wasn’t the attractive one and I needed to develop some desirable traits and find a way to be liked! I think being hot in high school is a curse and I’m glad I didn’t have it.
Being someone people take photos with and someone people who don’t know me had crushes on was very uncomfortable and pushed me to care about my appearance in a way I hadn’t even noticed before. It wasn’t good for me for a while. I’m better now (permanently hot, unstoppable etc.)
How Do You Take Care Of Your Mental And Emotional Well-Being While Dealing With The Challenges Of Your Personal And Professional Life?
Oh, gosh. I’m going to sound so annoying but honestly, long walks in nature, baths, yoga, hanging out with my dog. All the stuff in Live Laugh Love memes. Touching grass, I think, is really nice. I get up really early before I go to set and go for a big walk with my friends and their dogs along the river. It’s cold and early but it works. And someone always brings coffee.
What Can We Expect From You In The Future, In Terms Of Upcoming Projects Or Aspirations?
I’m working on adapting Average Bear which is really exciting, and I have a bunch of TV shows coming out this year. I’m coming back for Edinburgh Fringe with my latest show REFORM – it’s a true story about a man who scammed me online and instead of reporting him to the police, I became his friend and eventually his emergency contact while uncovering this huge web of fraud he had built. My partner plays him in the show which is a musical – naturally. It’s all very exciting and I must remember to sleep. Please remind me.
Michelle Brasier will perform Average Bear at the Soho Theatre in London from Mon 6 – Sat 11 Mar 23. To book tickets go to https://sohotheatre.com/shows/michelle-brasier-average-bear/