Comedy, Festivals, Stage

Rebecca De Unamuno: looking for love and laughs online

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Rebecca De Unamuno is one of the most versatile comedians working in Australia today. Her career has covered television, stand-up, improvisation, radio and three tours with Seinfeld’s Jason Alexander. Sydney readers will recognise her from her regular appearances on Richard Glover’s Thank God It’s Friday. She’s performed at her fair share of comedy festivals around the world, and this year returns to the Melbourne International Comedy Festival with her solo show Kiss My Date. We asked her a few questions about her new show, improvisation and her relationship with George Costanza
Kiss My Date is about looking for love in the wrong places. Is online dating good fodder for comedy?
It’s a fabulous source for comedy! I had only been online dating for a couple of months when I realised I couldn’t make-up half of the messages I received. I also remember telling friends, “Well, if I don’t get a relationship out of this, at least I’ll get a show!”
What’s the most shocking thing you discovered when online dating?
Just how brazen some men can be. I mean, I certainly wasn’t naïve going into this but the things some men would say to me, a complete stranger, totally shocked me.
Is there a particular website or app you can recommend?
It all depends on what you’re looking for. There are plenty out there that are suited to casual hook-ups, but if it’s a relationship you’re after, you may need to search a little harder. No pun intended.
Do you think comedy is at its best when it comes from personal experience?
I do. A lot of comedy is born of truth. As I was writing the show I had to find a way to work through the various emotions and try to “find the funny” in each situation. Whilst that was a difficult process at times, it was ultimately rewarding and rather cathartic. If you can’t laugh at yourself…
You’re known for your improvisation skills. Is there much impro in this show?
There is one moment of improvisation in the show. It’s an opportunity to explore two audience members’ relationship, as Shakespeare may have written it.
How does performing your own work compare to improvising or performing other writers’ work?
I haven’t written much at all! According to Wikipedia I have, but this is actually the first show I’ve ever written which makes it a real challenge, especially for an improviser! I’m used to writing scenes on the spot.
Your career has been massively diverse with television, short films, voice work, radio, straight acting gigs, writing, theatresports. To build a career as a comedian in Australia, is it important to be diverse?
I think diversity is certainly an asset. It’s tough to make a living as a performer in this country so the more strings to your bow, the easier it is to find work. But I also believe you need to have a passion for all that you do. If your heart is in it and you truly love what you do, the work will ultimately follow.
You’ve worked with Jason Alexander who is a massive fan of yours. Was that a huge compliment? Is he anything like George Costanza?
It’s a huge compliment! I remember how nervous I was the first time we met and performed together but we just clicked and worked together incredibly well on stage. The fact that we have since become good friends is a total bonus. He is a generous, kind, intelligent and funny man, which some would say is the complete antithesis of George Costanza! Not to mention the fact he is supremely talented. I’m so lucky to know him. He calls me his “sister from another mister” whilst he is my “brother from another mother”. He is a total delight.
You’re doing 22 performances at the festival, so you’ll be pretty busy, but who else are you wanting to see?
Whilst the overseas comics are fantastic, I’m a big fan of supporting local comedians. I always enjoy watching Sam Simmons, Justin Hamilton, Fiona O’Loughlin, Cam Knight, Frank Woodley, to name but a few.
I’m also really excited to see shows that some of my improv tribe are performing, especially Rama Nicholas, Jason Geary & Jimmy James Eaton and Late Nite Impro.
I also try to attend several kids’ comedy shows (hearing kids laugh is good for the soul!) as well as the final of Class Clowns, the student stand-up competition in which the future of Australian comedy is on display.
You’ve done a few Melbourne Comedy Festivals by now – as a performer, how does it compare to other festivals around the world?
I’ve been lucky enough to perform at the Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival yet there is nothing quite like the Melbourne Comedy Festival. Whilst it is incredibly hard work, you are constantly surrounded by friends and colleagues who are all going through the same thing and who all share the same passion – making audiences laugh. It’s like having a built-in support network and, as they say, there’s no place like home.
[box]Kiss My Date is at the Trades Hall as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival from 27 March to 20 April. Tickets are available at comedyfestival.com.au[/box]

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