Fiona O'Loughlin's idea of a good time


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Stand-up comedy queen Fiona O'Loughlin says that while people might think pastimes like golf are a way to fill in a day, she considers a good day to be when she has at least three belly laughs.

O'Loughlin is as infectiously funny during our interview as she is on stage, where she's become a household name throughout the country with appearances in Good News Week and Spicks and Specks, as well as international festivals.

She is visiting family in South Australia when we talk, and she's gushing over a two-month old niece she is cradling while on the phone.

It's a big family reunion. O'Loughlin is one of seven children and there are 25 grandchildren.

"Being back at work after this isn't really like being back at work," O'Loughlin laughs when asked if daunted about leaving the tribe behind in a couple of days to travel to Wollongong for her Australia Day performance.

Besides, the added bonus of these family get-togethers are that they provide O'Loughlin with fresh material for her shows.

"Like the other day, my brother-in-law, who has sight dyslexia, was going through all the kids saying hi and that, then a two-year-old comes along and he says 'and who have we got here' ... it was his own son," she laughs.

Performing on Australia Day doesn't faze O'Loughlin. She says that she can't recall taking part in many Australia Day celebrations while growing up in her Irish-Australian family in Warooka, South Australia.

"I love doing gigs on Australia Day because everyone's partying," she says.

Living in Alice Springs, where she raised her five children, O'Loughlin admits she is more comfortable performing in regional areas than in the city.

"They're quicker to catch on [to the jokes] in the country, I guess," she says.

O'Loughlin's foray into stand-up comedy didn't begin until she was 36 and her only ambition back then was to headline a comedy club in Melbourne.

"We didn't have commercial TV in Alice Springs - my only point of reference for stand-up comedy was watching Billy Connolly on the ABC," she says.

"I like to belly laugh at least three times a day while other people might like to play golf.".

A lot of O'Loughlin's material comes from family events, and she says her children don't mind providing fodder for her shows.

But she's recently learned to take what she dishes, with 24-year-old daughter Biddy becoming an accomplished comedian herself.

The mother and daughter performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and during Biddy's act, O'Loughlin admits "the comedian in me was feeling anxious for her, but the mother in me was thinking 'when you get home I'm going to kill you"'.

O'Loughlin says there is strong camaraderie in the Australian comedy industry and she believes the hints to comedy longevity are to watch what the younger comedians are doing and not be too negative.

"I think Australians are unlucky - we have one one of the worst accents for comedy. The Americans, Scots and English have a good rhythm, and I think comedy is a bit like music," she says.

"And now I realise it's like writing music - it's infinite, it never ends."

Fiona O'Loughlin. Picture: WAYNE TAYLOR

Fiona O'Loughlin. Picture: WAYNE TAYLOR


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