“My name is Emily McCool. I grew up splattered across south-east Queensland and I’ve been doing comedy for about a year and a half now. I stalked it out for about six months, planning to write and then go up. It’s like watching a skipping rope ready to jump in. I ended up enrolling in a course with Fiona McGary, did my first performance and then basically became addicted to it. Now I’m doing it a couple of times a week, building momentum. I love it.”
In a relatively short space of time, Emily has gone from a new face on the Brisbane comedy scene to having custom made billboards measured up in her honour. Her jarring combination of politics and smut catches you off guard and makes her difficult to classify. In a city where pretty much everyone is a comedian, Emily’s unique approach makes her stand out and gives her originality.
“My style is unassuming but cheekily grotty. I look innocent, but I hide a wickedly potty mouth. I voice everyone’s sick, sexy thoughts and they kind of just spill out all over the crowd. Whatever the opposite of daddy’s little girl, that’s me. I would embarrass my grandmother if she was in the crowd, but she never get’s an invite.”
Emily is incredibly personal and honest about what she’ll discuss on stage. The composed way in which she’ll delve into personal subjects before swinging it back around with toilet humour is a delight to behold. She’s incredibly personable and through this can take the audiences with her to places they might otherwise fear to tread. I asked her what her ambitions and goals were as a comedian.
“If I can get paid an equivalent wage to make people laugh rather than being a corporate drone, then I would do it. I have so many interests that also scaffold my comedy, my studies help to inform the type of politics that I like to talk about and the type of jokes I like to make. To make a career out of it involves a lot of travel but I think it’d be an incredible journey. I don’t ever see my life as being separate from comedy, not at this point. It’s just so interesting and dynamic. You get quick, instant reward – and I have just enough patience for immediate gratification.”
The rate at which Emily has honed her craft into becoming a commanding presence on the stage is enviable and shows the serious efforts she goes to in order to continually hone her skills. She made major life changes off the back of comedy, packing in her job to live it.
“There was a period of time where I was working over 48 hours a week, it was manic. Basically, my stage time was very high wired and rigid and I didn’t have the confidence. I wasn’t spending a lot of time practising or honing the art. I would just talk off the top of my head and try out new material, and I wouldn’t get very far. Then I had a bit of a break, listened to recordings of my comedy and hated myself for weeks. From there I crafted it and got really excellent feedback from the community. People were like “Oh wow Emily, you finally learned how to do comedy!”. I finally decided to reflect on my practice! Some comics listen straight away, but I don’t have the balls for that. What I’ll do is record three gigs in a row, and I’ll listen to them in order of how well they went. When I listen to the set that ‘killed’, I get a sense of knowing I’m not the shittiest of the shit but still be able to bear the crappy ones. When I was able to relax my work schedule a little bit, I was able to relax before gigs. I felt a lot funnier in real life. I think feeling funny in, or being delighted by, real life is important. When you have to be serious and keep a stable institutionalised job, it’s really hard to do comedy at the end of the day.”
In addition to comedy, Emily has gone back to university to continue her studies. Unlike her job, this new direction has given her a more complimentary day task to co-exist with her night pursuits.
“I was a uni student when I started, then I graduated, then I worked for a year, then went part time so I could commit to comedy, then I went back to uni so I could justify having quit my job to be part of the comedy scene. Now I’m studying a masters of development practice which is like comedy in terms of how much crowd work I get to do in community development and being about to work with people, and play at creating the world we live in. I enjoy what I’m studying.”
Her studies are not the only place she draws inspiration from, Emily is never afraid to speak her mind about subjects she is passionate about and thinks are important, which is perhaps unsurprising for someone who fits so naturally into the comedy mould.
“I’m a massive heckler too. I troll Facebook. When people say stupid shit on the internet I’ll quip or deconstruct it. The internet is born of stupid shit. If ever I’m not feeling inspired, I’ll go online and see what some bigot has posted hate speech against women or people who don’t have voices in mainstream media. Trolling is a big source of my inspiration. Facebook knows how to suck you in and to get you stuck in this never ending ranty debate that’s never going to be resolved and it’s never going to affect change. But I love Facebook, I love social media – it hones my thoughts about issues.”
In addition to stand up Emily has been involved in sketch videos such as A REAL Farmer Wants A Wife. I asked Emily what comedy means to her.
“It is that art of keeping your sense of humour in your everyday life. Delighting people and enjoying. When you’re up on stage, you’re welcoming them into your world. Even though you’ve been invited onto the stage, I love to play ‘host’ and put on that hospitality smile. “Hey guys, I’m gonna take you on this adventure, and this is what I’ve got to say”. I’m glad to be not taking myself so seriously anymore. The funniest thing for me is that we take being happy so seriously. We have to be happy! We’re so serious about being happy all the time.”
There’s an insightful self-awareness to Emily that sees her analytical mind critiquing pretty much anything it deals with. She’s the sort of person that doesn’t switch this sort of thing on, it’s just the way she’s always been.
“When I was in grade four, my best friend’s mum would always say “you’ve got to be on the stage” because I would quip and make everybody laugh. Making people laugh was always part of my childhood, then I pursued a very serious life of sciences and mathematics throughout high school. I did have some outlet for the arts, my grandmother introduced me to drama and so would perform a bit outside of school when I was a kid. That was a very strong influence.”
Emily will be bringing her sharp mind and tongue to demolish Killer Workout at The Milk Factory on Wednesday, November 16th. When it comes to her taste in films, she’s someone who knows what she likes.
“I am big into my female soft porn. Pretty Woman, Dirty Dancing. I will watch that and I will gush. It’s a big turn on for me. The other one that’s a big turn on for me are gangster movies because I’m big into power politics. I love Godfather 2 for instance. Al Pacino is my homeboy. I love gangster films. “I said forget about it, he said forget about it, we said forget about it”. I love that. In a past life I’m sure I was either a don or a madam of a brothel. That’s my persona. Pretty Woman gangster style is definitely my genre.”