Alexandra Spring | The Guardian |  Monday 9 March 2015

Tessa Waters

She swept the Melbourne fringe awards and was voted top character show at the Edinburgh fringe. Melbourne comedian Tessa Waters’ new show Womanz was inspired by Naomi Wolfe’s book Vagina, and it’s all about the joys of defying stereotypes while having a good time. As she continues her national comedy festival tour and still on “cabaret time”, Waters shares a list of her favourite feminists and some top tips for dealing with hecklers.

Why is your show called Womanz?
The show is hosted by Womanz, who is a disco diva from the stars, here to spread the love, the feminism and the party.

What’s the best thing about being female?
I ask that in the show. Most people will say the orgasms but I say: “Come on guys, think harder.” The best was an Irish guy in London, who stood up and said, “all the beautiful changes a woman goes through in her lifetime.” He was so moved by the feminist party we were having.

Do you ask what the worst thing is?
No, it’s all about celebrating. We get enough of being told what’s wrong with us, or what we should change about ourselves. This show is all about letting it flow, whatever it means to you to be a woman, to be loud and to be proud.

Who are the five women you’d want on your team and why?
One, Amy Poehler. She’s pretty much Mama Feminism in the comedy world at the moment. Dawn French for dancing. Karen Pickering, she’s an awesome Melbourne feminist. Four would be Dolly Parton, for her lyrics, fashion and being a pioneer. Five would be my mum because she was the first feminist I met.

Who’s a better feminist: Taylor Swift or Beyoncé?
Controversial. Taylor Swift said she wasn’t a feminist and then she came round to it, which is great. I don’t really like her music so much but she’s empowering to a lot of young girls. I’m much more of a fan of Beyoncé. Who’s a better feminist? I don’t want to say either because I think the more feminists we have in the world, the better. But I think Beyoncé can booty-shake better so I’m going to go with her.

What does success look like to you?
My clown teacher has this great quote that no matter how good you get, the flop is always around the corner. The idea that something good will happen one day and suddenly you’ll take off and succeed is fake. Success really is being happy and healthy in yourself emotionally and physically, because the rest of it is out of your control anyway.

Who do you admire most? Who do you envy most?
Admire? Amy Poehler. She combines total confidence in herself and in comedy, and real ballsiness or ovariness. Envy? Dolly Parton for her hair. I’m trying to get my hair as big as hers but I think there’s probably some industrial stuff going on there. But her career is amazing, she’s 70 and she’s still rocking out Glastonbury.

The inimitable Dolly Parton

What’s guaranteed to make you laugh?
I apologise, but fart jokes. My clowning teacher in France was like “You’re so Australian, the top level of comedy is the fart joke.” Every time it will get me.

What do you count as your breakout moment?
This Melbourne fringe festival. I had really no expectations, I was pretty burnt out from Edinburgh festival, but people showed up and started talking about it. Things just seem to be flowing now, I feel like I’m on a good wave, so I’m going to ride it for as long as I can.

Which comedians would you pay to see?
Bill Bailey, he’s a genius. Dawn French. I went to French and Saunders once and it was like seeing Elvis. Anne Edmonds – she’s about to explode all over the world. And Plague of Idiots. They are a bunch of amazing idiots.

Who are your hot tips for the comedy festival season?
Penny Greenhalgh’s show Pop Pop, Jekyll & James, who will be at Melbourne comedy festival, and Claire Sullivan.

What’s the best way to deal with a heckler?
Send them love, because they are obviously insecure. I usually get them up on stage to dance with me. Womanz is always chatting to the crowd and feeding off them, so even with hecklers, it’ll be positive. I had to escort a super drunk heckler out once. I was like, “Babes, you are going to be happier in the bar. We’ll be happier, you’ll be happier. I’ll see you after the show and you can buy me a drink”.

Tessa Waters’ Womanz is at Adelaide fringe until 15 March, then Brisbane comedy festival, 17 to 22 March and Melbourne international comedy festival from 26 March to 19 April

FEATURED IMAGE: Comedian Tessa Waters photo via The Guardian