Some people are just naturally likeable. I’m sure there are multiple subconscious triggers which have evolutionary reasons for realising that the person you’re talking to probably isn’t going to kill you right now, however the trait is nearly impossible to replicate if it doesn’t come naturally. Jasmine has it in abundance. The moment you see her on a stage with a microphone, you’re instantly on her side and ready to laugh.
Jasmine has a natural stage presence, helped partly due to her background with the prestigious Loose Moose Theatre company in Calgary, Canada.
“In Calgary is a very well known theatre called Loose Moose Theatre. It’s an improvisation theatre started by Keith Johnstone with Dennis Cahill as artistic director. Keith Johnstone literally wrote the book on impro games and theatre sports. People come from all over the world come to take his classes. I started when I was fifteen being taught by him and Dennis for free because it’s a volunteer theatre. It’s an amazing place. It takes in the strays and gives you this whole lesson for free. It basically saved me when I was a teenager from falling into a pit of despair.”
As with many teenagers, the impact her choices made didn’t become apparent until later in life.
“The only reason I was there was to stay out of trouble, not necessarily because I desperately wanted to do improv. It was something to do, as opposed to understanding how important it was and understanding how prolific these people teaching me were. It wasn’t until I left to move to Australia and only then did I understand. It didn’t sink in that how important the lessons I was taught were and how helpful they were for doing theatre, for anything at all. This idea of being really accepting, of saying yes or “yes, and”, that sort of idea. It sinks in when you’re fifteen and then suddenly when you’re thirty five you go “Oh! That’s a good idea!” Like having parents and suddenly realising that all along they were trying to teach you something and luckily it sunk in.”
Calgary is a very different place to Brisbane, just take the weather for starters. I asked Jasmine what it was like to live there.
“Calgary was fine, I moved a lot when I was a kid. I went to eight different schools in six years. We moved houses a lot and cities a few times with my dad’s work. He worked at Nestle, it wasn’t anything too exciting. It was the eighties and so there was a recession happening so you kind of got told where you were going if you wanted a job.”
A move from Calgary to Brisbane is not perhaps the most obvious of relocations, I asked Jasmine what brought her to the land of sunshine and animals that kill you.
“When I was seventeen years old I met my husband online. I had a work holiday visa set up to come over to Australia to meet him, but I wasn’t allowed to come until I was eighteen. We stayed in Australia until my visa expired, moved to Canada and lived there for three or four years, moved back to Australia for three or four years, back to Canada for ten years and we recently moved back again to Australia.”
Basically if you have any questions about moving from Canada to Brisbane, Jasmine’s your go-to person. I asked about some of the differences between the two countries.
“The biggest one is of course the weather, it’s polar opposite, it couldn’t be more opposite. The last winter I was in Canada, it snowed for ten months literally. You come here and it’s beautiful for ten months and then hot for two, I’m OK with that. I find the culture’s kind of similar, I think that Australia’s a little bit rougher, I think that Australians really speak their mind a lot more than Canadians and I struggled with that for a long time. In Canada you have many layers of what you are saying. You say you’re sorry and that can mean fifteen different things. It can be an apology, or it can be a fuck you depending on how you say it. In Australia I kept getting offended by what people would say because I kept looking at it through the Canadian layers. If I was Canadian and I was saying this to another Canadian, this would be the most offensive thing you could possibly say and I have no idea why they’re saying all these really offensive things to me! I lived with Cameron, my Australian husband for eighteen years, and it’s only been a couple of years that I’ve realised this is why I was getting so offended. I’ve been looking at it through a Canadian lens, but they’re not, they’re just saying what they mean and I think that’s refreshing. In Canada, there’s a lot of things being said in between the lines. If you are not picking up what other people are laying down, they’re not going to help you.”
I asked how the comedy scene compared between Brisbane and Canada.
“I didn’t do stand up in Canada so it’s hard to compare between improv and stand up. The improve scene in Calgary is one of the best. You hear about Chicago, but a lot of them are offshoots of Loose Moose. It’s a theatre that seats almost 200, there’s lights, sound, a backstage, has one purpose, it’s usually sold out and you get really spoiled. Coming here and then doing comedy in pubs where people aren’t there at all on purpose and you’re just interrupting someone’s TAB experience, it’s a little bit different. I can’t really compare because I haven’t done any improv here. I know that there’s a great scene here and a pleasant community, I don’t know the specifics and technicalities, but the people I’ve met are absolutely delightful. That heart is still here as it was in Calgary. When it comes to comparing improv and stand up as a community, it is a lot different. There’s still a supportive stand up community here but stand up is so singular and isolated that you don’t have to have the trust so there isn’t the rallying of the community, it’s much more isolated. People keep to themselves a lot more and are a little bit more guarded.”
It’s this rich and varied background that gives Jasmine a unique perspective that makes her comedy such a rich and rewarding proposition. Her venture into stand up comedy began at Fiona McGary’s Stand Up Course and she hasn’t looked back since. I asked her how she’d describe her comedy to someone who hasn’t seen her before
“It’s very conversational, story-telling driven and it’s fairly sarcastic. I have a very deep well of sarcasm that I use regularly. For the majority of the time I’m telling things that have mostly happened. I don’t write, I’m not a good writer of “jokes”. I wish I was, you see some of these people up there and they’re just amazing, but for me I just write hack things when I sit there and try to write jokes. Like Rodney Dangerfield would really enjoy the stuff that I’m writing, but I don’t. A lot of time it’s stories that have happened to me that I then hyperbolise a little, adding some of the sarcastic nature that perhaps I pushed down in the real life version.”
With Jasmine performing at the opening Comedy Commentary Cinema night at the Milk Factory Bar & Kitchen on May 18th, giving a live narrative over a screening of the tragedaction sensation Samurai Cop, I asked if Jasmine was much of a film fan.
“It’s a ginormous thing of mine and has always been since I was a kid. I can just watch movie after movie after movie, it doesn’t bother me. My greatest day, because I’m an eighty five year old trapped in a thirty five year old’s body is to just sit in a quilt and watch Netflix endlessly. It just makes me so happy to live in that fantasy world where things go right for the majority of them. That is a big part of my family. When I was a kid it was a big thing, we’d watch a movie together, that was our family time and now that I have my own family that is a big part of what we do as well.”