Our latest ‘fab woman’ Denise Scott shares her challenges and achievements as a comedienne ahead of taking to the stage in London in her show ‘Disappointments’ with her friend Judith Lucy.
A little about you:
I live in Melbourne, Australia with my partner John Lane. We’ve been together 36 years. We have two children, musician Jordie Lane and visual artist Bonnie Lane
What were your main activities Before turning 50?
I cooked, cleaned house, shopped and gardened. I did decoupage (a set of kitchen chairs). I mosaiced (a feature wall in our kitchen, to hide some fat stains that were impossible to clean.) I ‘looked after’ my two children – specifically I willed them to survive their adolescent years. I began spending more time with my mother who was in early stages of Alzheimer’s. I spent a lot of time with a friend, also a comedian, who had ovarian cancer. I worked as a stand-up comedian.
Since turning 50 …
I have continued to pursue a career in stand-up comedy and appeared on many panel type shows on Australian TV. I also got into acting, becoming a regular guest in two Australian TV series – Winners and Losers and Househusbands. I wrote two memoirs All that Happened at Number 26 and The Tour. I waved my children off as they both went and lived in the USA. I cared for, stressed about, and eventually farewelled my mother Marg who had ten years or more of living with Alzheimer’s. I crocheted like a madwoman – shawls, scarves, bedspreads ponchos. (Some were quite lovely, sadly most were quite disgusting). I was devoted to our little scruff bucket dog, Raffi. I walked with him every day.
What prompted you to follow your dream?
My life as a super model became vacuous. Seriously I’d always wanted to be an actress but it didn’t work out so I tried stand-up. I believed it would work well with my desire to be essentially a stay at home, fulltime mother – short working hours, not having a boss to answer to, not having to be part of a team. I know… how naïve could a person be?
How old were you when you started?
34 years old when I started doing stand up.
Did you have to take any courses or training to do this?
The only training for stand up is to walk out on stage and say the words you’ve written. If the audience laugh you’ve succeeded. If they don’t laugh you’ve failed. It’s as simple and complex as that. You keep writing and performing and learning on the job.
What does your business / dream /job/challenge look like today?
Weirdly my work life is buzzing along. I do stand up, voiceover/narrating work, some panel shows on Australian TV and of-course I am currently touring Australia (and now London) with my great friend , comedian Judith Lucy in a show we wrote called ‘Disappointments.’
Best aspect of life over 50
What has been the best aspect of your journey so far?
The best aspect of life – cliché and corny as it sounds – is having a family. Workwise the best aspect has been never really having a plan; I’ve just kept feeling my way forward, working things out as I’ve gone along, taking opportunities when they’ve been offered, creating my own projects (shows and books) when nothing else is happening. And the ultimate joy of joys? Not having a boss. That’s been fantastic. I HATE being told what to do.
What was /is your biggest fear?
I’m afraid of most things: failure, performing, doing new things, driving, meeting new people, travelling…
Did anybody in particular inspire you?
Susan Jeffers. She wrote the classic self-help book “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway.”
What difference has it made to your life?
‘Feel the fear and do it anyway’ has become my lifelong mantra. I can be curled up in the foetal position under my doona thinking: “I’m can’t do this, I’m so scared.” But I learnt to live with that fear, become friends with it, if you like, or more to the point, I learned to just completely ignore it. I make myself get out of bed and do whatever ‘it’ is regardless of my fear, self loathing and anxiety.
What challenges did you initially face? How did you overcome them?
Initially I faced failure. And crippling anxiety. I’m talking facts here. In the early days my jokes didn’t work. I was mortified with embarrassment and self loathing. No laughs equalled no self esteem. I only managed to stay in comedy by telling myself that no matter what, I had to keep going for two years. I was not allowed to give up before that. It was a non-negotiable contract I made with myself. Two years past and then I made another contract with the same conditions!
How did the opportunity come about?
I performed at stand up ‘try out’ nights until eventually I started to get paid for my work.
What other opportunities have materialised as a result?
Acting on TV, writing books, doing radio work, speaking at corporate events, being an ambassador for Womens Cancer Foundation and Learn to Live, and performing for free at numerous fundraisers for awesome charities.
What are your next steps?
I really don’t know. Stand up comedy is a relatively new genre in Australia and only recently did it become a possible career option. Currently I am one of the oldest female comedians in Australia. There aren’t really any role models to follow. So as always I’ll just keep making it up as I go along.
How have friends and family reacted?
My mother was never a fan of my comedy. She only saw me perform stand up once and famously commented afterwards: “That girl who was on before you, didn’t she have shiny hair?” My partner John and our adult kids are proud and can’t quite believe that at this stage of my life I’m finally getting some recognition – in my sixties!
I regret being so scared and unconfident for so long.
What 3 tips would you give other women over 50 looking to do something similar?
- Don’t do comedy unless you really want to. It’s so hard and can be quite soul destroying.
- Embrace the failures. They are absolutely part and parcel of the job. Even more importantly learn from your failures. Ultimately they can only make you better at your craft.
- There will always be stressful challenges ahead so make sure to enjoy the more positive experiences whilst you can.
A little bit more about you……
All time favourite book or film?
‘Jane Eyre’ Charlotte Bronte
How would you describe your own style?
Eclectic. Bohemian. Daggy.
Three words that sum up your life over 50
Rollercoaster, Surprising, Humbling
About ‘Disappointments’ showing in London
Scotty and Jude couldn’t be happier; every element of their lives is simply perfect. They love their bodies, their careers, the people they have chosen to be surrounded by and they love who they are, the women that they have become. Their souls are fit to bursting! Every day is another perfect gift from the universe!
Well that’s certainly what they’ve written on their Facebook pages. Come along and see what a crock of shit that actually is. Truthfully their lives are full of… disappointments. We guarantee that this show will make you feel better about your lives or at least help you accept the rut that you’re in. Lucy and Scott will help you embrace your mediocrity along with your shattered dreams and what’s more you’ll walk out feeling proud! They’ll sing, they’ll dance, they’ll lie down a lot and they’ll learn to love their disappointments.
Judith last delighted audiences at Soho Theatre in 2012, this will be Scotty’s London debut!
Showing at the Soho Theatre from June 27th to July 7th