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SuBIRDia Renovated: Sparrow-Folk’s new show

Michelle Brotohusodo

Watch out Canberra, Australia’s Sirens of Satire and local comedians Sparrow-Folk are back with a brand new street party—and you’re all invited.

SuBIRDia Renovated will divulge the daring and delightful underbelly of suburban life and, if it’s anything like the other Sparrow-Folk gigs I’ve been to, will have the audience in fits of laughter. I’m a big fan of theirs, and was thrilled to get the chance to sit down with Catherine Crowley (Fox) and find out more about them and their new show.

Michelle: So SuBIRDIA…Renovated?
Sparrow-Folk: Yes! It’s like a sequel to SuBIRDia. But a good sequel, imagine Sister Act 2, not Sharknado 2 or 3, or Aladdin 2 [author’s note: this spun into a back and forth between us naming bad sequels. Oh Grease 2, so bad it’s good. Or maybe not]. We’ll have all brand new songs but the same mischief and shenanigans. We’ve been having heaps of fun with it. We’ve already taken it to Adelaide and Sydney, and will be going to Melbourne after Canberra.

Will the puppets from SuBIRDia be making a reappearance?
Oh yes! We’ve got a few more puppets this year. Jules (Juliet Moody, also known as Lark) put together her knitting needles and when she starts, you never know what you’re going to get.

New songs, new puppets, will there be new costumes as well?
Yes! In the past Christine’s Place in Erindale has helped us with our costumes, but this time round we’ve made them ourselves.

How do you come up with your ideas?
Well it’s like when you’re sitting around with family and friends and going, “Yeah but what if?”, “And what about this, and what about that?” and when you get to the end of that thread, you realise that you’re naked on stage. Never fully naked though; ‘Sparrow-Folk naked’, as one male comedian once put it.

With our songs, they often come from the seed of an idea about something that happens in real life, or ‘what if this happened’ scenarios. We then develop and grow the idea to find the humour. We also get ideas when we’re working with others, like the regular awkward anthems we’ve been writing for ABC666.

Do you have a favourite amongst your songs?
It’s hard to choose a favourite. I’ve got lots of songs I love for different reasons. I might love a song because it’s funny, and I love another one because it’s musically enjoyable to sing. So it’s very hard to choose our favourite. And they get upset.

What are some of the highlights of performing?
There’s so much joy in making people laugh, it gives you such a high. We have a number of songs where the audience is laughing but there’s also a real elation where they let go—it’s not just funny, there’s a feeling of “Yeah, that’s right, it’s time to let go!”.

When we first started performing, we did this number where we stripped and we were wearing these other costumes underneath, and we had these terrible insecurities. It was such a big deal for us back then, but now we just get it off. There’s something about performing on stage that makes you care less about your insecurities. You’re already up there and people are already laughing at you, and you go, well, what’s the point of worrying, it’s comedy!

If we’re going to have perfect-looking muscular bodies, that’s not funny, that’s just sexy, and that is not what we’re going for! But it’s actually really nice to let go and have the audience let go too.

It’s nice to have so much support when we perform in Canberra. I think most comedians have home ground support, like a sporting team. And then you go away and it’s a bit tougher to get an audience because they don’t know you. That said, we had a really full season in Adelaide and had ‘returners’, who as they were walking out said, “We’ll see you next year!”

The online support has been great too. In Edinburgh, people who hadn’t seen us live but had seen our film clips came to the shows and sang along to all the songs. It was very surreal.

Apart from the new show, what else does Sparrow-Folk have planned for this year?
We’ve got some more film clips coming out, which we’re really looking forward to. We like to do them as spoofs of old film clips. We’d love to do a spoof of (starts singing) “Turn around, every now and then”. Just the techniques Bonnie Tyler uses in that clip are so hilarious in their own right, it’s like comic gold without her even realising she’s funny.

Jules is also organising a big comedy gala in August as part of the Fearless Initiative, to raise funds for the Domestic Violence Crisis Service ACT and raise awareness about domestic violence.

Is there anything else people need to know about SuBIRDia Renovated?
Everybody gets a present after the show. We like everybody to get a little prize, it’s part of coming to a street party. We’ve got a late night show, which is the same show, but maybe it might be cheekier? Is there a certain time once Prime Possum goes to bed that you can let rip? Though let’s face it, we let rip regardless of what time it is.

The essentials
What: Sparrow-Folk’s SuBIRDia Renovated
When: 19-21 May 2016
Where: The Street Theatre, 15 Childers Street, Canberra
How much: $25 concession, $30 standard, $27 each for groups of 4+
Purchase tickets through the Street Theatre’s website


Michelle Brotohusodo

Michelle moved to Canberra vowing to stay for two years, tops. 10 years later, she’s a bona fide Canberra convert. When she’s not working in her day job as a public servant, she’s enjoying Canberra’s culinary delights or finding fun things to do/see in and around town. More about the Author

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