ACT News


Veteran comedian Kitty Flanagan relishes the challenges of her varied creative outlets

In the acclaimed Australian TV series Utopia – exploring the inner workings of a newly-established federal bureaucracy – Kitty Flanagan plays Ronda, a slick, excitable (if rather dippy) public relations manager concerned with "driving traffic, getting hits, unique page views, click bait, bounce rates".

Off-screen, Flanagan couldn't be more different. Speaking on the phone from her home in Sydney, she's whip-smart, self-deprecating and decidedly old school when it comes to technology.

"I've got a landline that's still attached to the wall," she quips. "It was hard to find. It cost me $40 at the Telstra shop and they said usually only old people want these phones [laughs]."

While best recognised for her appearances on The Project and The Weekly with Charlie Pickering, Flanagan got her start as a stand-up comedian and it's in this capacity that she'll be returning to Canberra next month as one of the headliners of the Canberra Comedy Festival. 

As a veteran of Australian comedy scene – she got her start on the cult sketch comedy series Full Frontal in 1994 – Flanagan is well placed to comment on the changing nature of the local industry over the years.

"I think it's harder now," she says. "I wouldn't like to be starting now with social media. Comedians are already very sensitive and take things very personally. I don't need anyone else to beat me up after a gig; I do a lot of that myself."


How does Kitty deal with the pressures of social media and its capacity for real time feedback from audiences?

"Personally, I know how sensitively and badly I take things so I tend to stay off social media," she says. "I have a Facebook page but it's a work one and it's administered by my sister. Because she's my sister, she knows exactly what will offend me. 

"Plus I'm also a terrible, terrible time waster. I can procrastinate with the best of them. I could represent this country when it comes to procrastinating. I am so good at it. I do not need social media to help with that. I would never get anything done if I was on any of those Facebook things."

In addition to her TV roles, Flanagan has made inroads as a writer for Fairfax media, penning articles on topics as diverse as tipping etiquette and the parallels between parenting and dog ownership.

She's also an in-demand script writer and is currently working on a project with award-winning comedian Julia Davis for Channel Four in England.

With so many creative outlets at her disposal, why does Flanagan continue to return to live stand-up, surely one of the more challenging and unforgiving artistic mediums?

"I have to keep doing it," she states matter-of-factly. "If I stop doing it I know I will lose my nerve. It's like if I put the pen down, I won't pick it up again.

"Also, it's the most immediate work you can do. I don't have to sit around waiting for someone to say, 'Oh would you mind writing a column for us this week?' or 'Would you be in this show?' I can say, 'I want to do a show, I want to get up and say this stuff' and within a couple of hours I can go down to a local club and try something out. It's just the most immediate way to work.

"Plus, I think you'll find with most comedians, probably, if you just scratch the surface you go 'I see, another control freak!' [laughs]."

Kitty Flanagan

When: March 18 and 19, 7pm

Where: Canberra Theatre Centre, Playhouse

Tickets: $46.90 + bf from