By Alanta Colley
Tegan Higginbotham is a fresh-faced force for good with a firm foot in the Melbourne Comedy Scene. Humblingly younger than most of her contemporaries; Tegan has for the past few years been prolifically producing fast paced sketch in outfit Watson, The Anarchist Guild Social Committee, regularly appearing on The Shelf, as well producing regular commentary in her column in the Age on sport.
Tegan is back and better than ever this Comedy Festival with the release of her new solo show ‘Game Changer’. Game Changer forms a trilogy of Sports themed shows for Tegan, following her very successful ‘Touched by Fev’ (dedicated to AFL star Brendan Fevola) and previously with the acclaimed ‘Million Dollar Tegan’; which explored Tegan’s personal foray into the bizarre world of boxing. ‘Game Changer’ explores social attitudes towards pole dancing and lingerie football, and asks the question: just who sets the standards when it comes to what defines a ‘real sport’ anyway?
Tegan took a quick few minutes out of her Comedy Festival prep to talk to me!
Your love of sport has been a central theme of your last two comedy shows, with Touched by Fev and Million Dollar Tegan. Can you tell me about how your love of sport and comedy came together?
I didn’t mean for it to happen. It wasn’t a conscious thought – when I took up boxing the experience was so ridiculous comedy was a way of sharing what happened. But as a massive film buff I love a good trilogy. Star Wars is the main reason this ended up being a trilogy!
Pole Dancing is a bit of a break from boxing and footy. What attracted you to Pole Dancing as a theme?
I came across a really heated and negative response to the idea of pole dancing becoming an Olympic sport. As I engaged in the argument I realised I didn’t know anything about pole dancing, so I wanted to find out more about it. I started doing a lot of research about pole dancing online. You have to be really careful what search terms you use when you’re researching pole dancing! But it was fascinating.
I found out that there was a massive movement of people who accept pole dancing as a sport. I ended up trying it out. I found it incredibly hard. Women who do it are so strong. There’s a lot of muscles and skills that they need to develop that are different from any other sport.
It was similar to the lingerie league – when it came to town all that anyone noticed was what they were wearing. It took a while for people to realise that they were extremely strong and fit athletes.
What sort of response do you get from people as a woman in comedy, talking about sport?
It took a lot of convincing people that I was telling the truth about my love of sport. They thought of it as a gimmick or didn’t believe I knew much about it. Having a regular column in the Age has helped a lot to help people take it seriously. The more I perform the more people are getting on board with it. I want to be seen first and foremost as a comic.
Who should come and see this show?
This show should be perfect for everybody. It’s great for people who love sport, but I’m also a massive nerd so there’s no way I’ll be able to keep that hidden. I’ve also challenged myself to talk more about myself in this show; so there’s a bit more story telling about my life in it than there’s been before.
What do you hope your audience takes away from your show?
Hmmmm. I’d hope they’d take away the willingness to think about sports like pole dancing a little more before reacting so strongly to them. And I hope they have a really good laugh.
Many of us are super sad not to see Watson this comedy festival. Will Watson rise again?
Absolutely. Adam and I love working together. It was really hard but we made the decision that doing a show at Comedy Festival show this year wasn’t going to work with our schedules. But our ideas keep getting bigger and bigger. You’ll see Watson put on something pretty special at Melbourne Fringe this year.
You recently reappeared with the Anarchist Guild Collective Social Committee, which performed to a sold out room. What for you is the biggest difference between performing sketch and stand up?
Sketch for me is more like play and stand up, while rewarding, is a lot more work. I love stand up and how challenging it is. Though stand up is a little bit lonelier after the show. I really like having the chance to do both.
I hear that you’ve got upcoming television role, This is Littleton can you tell me a bit about that?
This is Littleton goes to air this February! It’s a really fun sketch show. The story is set around a Town Hall Community Centre. I perform various roles throughout the show. The comics performing all write their own material; many of the characters are based on characters they’ve taken from their own work, so it’s a really interesting collaboration. The show is lots of fun.
What are you looking forward to the most this Melbourne comedy festival?
The first show. There’s nothing like the feeling after your first show for the run. You have so much doubt and you put in so much preparation and you don’t know how its going to turn out. The feeling of relief after the first performance is over is just amazing.
What other acts are you looking forward to seeing?
I always love seeing Celia Pacquola. And because I love sketch I love seeing Girls Uninterrupted, and Lords of Luxury and Aunty Donna. There’s a lot of great sketch this festival.
You can catch Tegan’s New show ‘Game Changer’ at the Gold Room at the Portland Hotel from the 28th of March to the 21st of April (no shows Mondays)
Tickets: $24 Full, $22 Concession, Tight-arse Tuesdays $20
Times: 7:15pm (6:15pm Sundays)
Her Website: www.teganhigginbotham.com