Women Like Us. Ellen Briggs and Mandy Nolan. 18+. The Abbey, O'Hanlon Place, Nicholls, Saturday, May 6, dinner and show from 7pm ($80), show only 8pm ($30 prebooked, $35 on the night). Bookings: theabbey.com.au. Phone 62302905. womenlikeus.com.au.
Although she now lives in Mullumbimby in northern NSW, stand-up comedian Ellen Briggs often visits her mother in Page in the house where she was raised. And she likes coming back to Canberra.
"As my mother is ageing I do pop in quite a bit and I remember all the good things about it, like you're never more than 20 minutes away from anything."
She'll be here on Saturday night to perform Women Like Us,a show with fellow comedian Mandy Nolan they've been touring for the past 18 months, on and off.They've had successful performances at the Perth Comedy Festival, Melbourne International Comedy Festival and the Adelaide Fringe, among others.
"Canberra will be the 38th show," Briggs says,.
They do separate sets in the two-hour performance, Briggs says. While they're very compatible personally, their comedy styles are quite distinct and don't really blend.
"I'm very much a storyteller, with personal stories I'm telling, and Mandy's like a machine-gun, more topical."
Briggs is discursive in her approach to comedy rather than spitting out a rapid-fire stream of one-liners and enjoys interacting with the audience as part of the show.
But they do have a lot in common: both in their 40s, with seven children and four husbands between them and both with a kind of comedy that speaks to women like them: wives and mothers, dealing with subjects like the beauty industry, getting older, getting fatter, strange surgeries, weird TV shows and who unpacks the dishwasher.
Briggs says that although the show obviously strikes a strong chord with women, it's by no means limited to one sex in its appeal.
"Men love it. We love men! Our husbands do feature; they don't mind....Even if we do make a joke about them, they think it's not true."
She says she likes their style of comedy - "there's no nastiness in it" - and it seems many others do too.
Nolan's been in comedy for three decades and taught Briggs the ropes. Briggs had been in the public service and took a package. She was the mother of twins and, bored being at home, contacted Nolan who ran comedy courses a little over a decade ago.
"I was a big fan of comedy - I loved Joan Rivers, Harley Breen from Melbourne, Eddie Murphy's Raw."
She came up with material and went on to become a state finalist for RAW Comedy, and won the Foxtel Comedy Channel's How To Be a Comedian. So began her new career.