Meet the Artist: Courtney Ammenhauser
Courtney Ammenhauser is a funny lady that does cool shit. Do I need to say more?
We chatted to her about her Melbourne Fringe show, how she created a theatre company from scratch with friend, Lakia, and where her inspiration comes from. Also the worst advice she's ever gotten, which is all of us.
How did you first get involved in being hilarious and creative? Were you born very dull & boring and had to work at it? Or did you pop out of the womb slinging jokes at the nurses?
I was born 3 weeks late weighing a hefty 10 pounds 14 ounces so I’m going to say that my birth alone was a classic stitch up. That wasn’t meant to be a reference to any kind of medical procedure. I’m sorry. Should I start again?
I’m the youngest of four children and grew up in a very tiny town in Far North Queensland. I had to make a lot of noise to compete with my siblings. And growing up in a town two hours from the nearest cinema and shopping centre encouraged me to be creative from a young age. I started with dancing, drama and drumming classes in primary school. My music teacher never let me play on the drum kit when the other kids learning drums – all of which were boys - were around, so I quit drumming and continued with dancing and drama classes and haven’t really stopped. Comedy is a new thing though. I never really considered myself as a funny person but as I’ve grown up (slightly) I’ve found that audiences tend to listen to what I’m saying more if it’s wrapped up in a few jokes. Like a burrito. Like comedy is a tortilla and the filling is all the jokes and chat but what really matters is the type of salsa because that’s the actual thing that brings a burrito together and that is the thing I’m trying to get you to think about without you realizing until afterward when you can’t stop burping salsa verde.
Tell us about the creation of The General Public Theatre Company.
Lakia and I used to work together. Our desks were right next to each other so we got to know each other pretty quickly. I had decided that I wanted to make Quarter Life Crisis for Sydney Fringe so I asked (read: peer pressured) Lakia if she’d be keen to help me because I knew she was good at getting shit done and needed someone like her to keep me on track and tell me when I wasn’t funny. We decided to form the company to present the work and that’s pretty much it. We just chose the name on the fly but I think it suits us because it kinda makes us sound open but also like a cult and both are correct.
How did you come up with the idea for Quarter Life Crisis?
The idea of a quarter life crisis was something that I really related to when I came up with the idea (I like to think I’ve recovered now). After I finished uni and started working, I found myself really confused about how I was meant to do life. I was working full time in an office and feared my impending 25th birthday two years before it arrived. When I would talk to other people my age, I found this ‘milestone’ was commonly feared amongst my peers and I wanted to figure out why.
What has been your favourite part of putting this together?
My favourite part is hearing and seeing the audience reactions when I’m onstage performing. I love seeing people dob in their friends and say “that’s you” or to be sitting there saying “yes” to each other or an audible “oh my god” when I’m mid-way through a scene. It’s that kind of relatability that I’m trying to present to connect with audiences and maybe help them feel less alone in the world. I also really love it when people who aren’t going through a quarter life crisis tell me how much they enjoyed or related to the show. I think the title attracts a certain type of demographic but the show itself is not limited to the experiences of people in their 20s. I think the whole idea of a quarter life crisis is actually just the initiation process of adulthood and that life itself is a crisis, regardless of your age. So bring ya mum along. She’ll love it.
Who is your favourite comedian/performer in Melbourne?
I’m based in Sydney so I’m still getting to know a lot of the local artists in Melbourne. I did really love Michelle Brasier and Laura Frew’s show Double Denim that I saw at Adelaide Fringe – hilarious! I’m really keen to get out and see some more local performers while I’m in town.
How does living and working in Melbourne influence your work?
I live in Sydney haha but I actually just came back from Melbourne and felt incredibly impacted by the weather. It made me stay inside a bit more than I normally would which ended up being productive because I used the time to rehearse. I’m very easily distracted by the beach in Sydney. I go through a lot of sunscreen.
Where do you find comedic inspiration? Politics? Pop Culture?
At the moment I’m getting it from my family and my childhood. I don’t get to see my family that much but when I do there’s always something weird that happens.
What Fringe Festival shows will you be going to/what have you seen so far?
I’m super excited to see my hilarious friend Katilyn Rogers’ show Can I Get an Amen?! And super keen to check out the new show from The Travelling Sisters! I stumbled across The Travelling Sisters’ show in Adelaide and loved it. That’s what I love about fringe festivals – you never really know what you’re going to get - and more often than not, you’re going to find yourself a few gems if you’re willing to take a punt on something new.
Netflix: what are you watching?
Um, I actually just got the free trial for Stan so that I could watch The Other Guy. I also re-watched The Princess Diaries recently and I have no regrets.
What’s the worst advice you’ve ever been given?
I hate it when people tell me what to do so whatever advice I’ve been given, I’ve definitely forgotten. I do remember being told that taking Panadol was bad for me by someone though. They told me that as they were lining up some MDMA. Good times.