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What I learned in 2020: Frankie McNair

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As one of humanity’s most trying years comes to an end, we take a moment to reflect.

Canberrans have fared through devastating bushfires, suffocating smoke, destructive hail and a global pandemic in 2020. So undoubtedly, we’ve learned some things.

Today, comedian Frankie McNair reflects on her year.

Paint a picture of you after summer 2019/20

Summer of 19/20 was incredible! I had just come back from a solo trip around America (it was like Eat, Pray, Love but more Burritos, Hostels, Athletes Foot…it ruled!), I felt like I was settling into Melbourne after moving from Canberra, and a weird wave of performance anxiety was subsiding so I was finally getting excited to hit the stage again…ooooooft how that all changed.

How did you fare in the great hailstorm of 2020?

I was in Melbourne so it didn’t impact me….very rude of me. 

What were your first impressions of COVID in early 2020?

I truly just thought it was gonna have the same reputation as something like swine flu.

Like, it would be in the media a bunch and then not really impact anything and eventually, it would just be a weird niche thing you could bring up at parties where you don’t really know anyone too well and say “hey, remember swine flu?” to break the ice….but yeah, that impression changed pretty quick.

What was your first memory of being materially affected by COVID?

I had come back to Canberra to do my show Big Dumb Idiot at the Canberra Comedy Festival. While a couple of days before the show opened the Melbourne International Comedy Festival got cancelled, and we knew it was a matter of time before the Canberra Comedy Festival was too.

It was so heavy. Seeing all these people I admire and love having the next few months of income and their future pretty much put on hold indefinitely with one email. It sucked. Obviously, it was the right call. But it still sucked.

Frankie performing at Decadence and Debauchery 2020.

What were the low points of 2020? 

I remember sitting in the car with mum, just after the comedy festival had been cancelled and just before I was meant to go back to Melbourne, and having the realisation that I had nothing to go back too. And I just cried. 

What were the high points of 2020?

Making and decorating cupcakes to look like our share house. Adopting my housemates’ cat. Making an IGTV series called “Couples in iso” with my friend Scout. Learning that I can run and not hate it.

Seeing the massive turn out at the Black Lives Matter marches across the country. Getting to gig again after six months. Starting a podcast called ‘Worst Gigs‘. Biting the bullet and reaching out to more people (and accidentally making more friends).

What’s the biggest positive change to your work or personal life that you’ll carry into the future?

I think realising how important having a sense of community is within your practice. So not taking that for granted and trying to foster that as much as possible. Knowing the world won’t crumble if I slow down a bit. And just how important mates are. We love ‘em!

What did you learn in 2020?

I learnt that people are incredible at adapting. Going for walks is a really good time killer and sweet social activity. Skateboarding is hard to learn as an adult. I learnt that a lot of our systems are broken and need to change dramatically. 

How are you feeling about 2021?

Optimistic. I have no idea what the future holds…but I guess I didn’t before either.

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