Multi-award winning actress, comedian, writer, performer and ex-BBC journalist Juliette Burton is in New Zealand for the first time with her seriously funny stand-up show, ‘Look At Me’. In this inspiring solo piece, she tackles complex issues around body image, the beauty myth and prejudice, using her unique style of comedy to raise mental health awareness. Juliette is also a spokesperson for the Be Real campaign and acts as an ambassador for the charity Mind.
ANNABEL WILSON talks comedy, ideas and what’s in her handbag as Juliette gets set to rock the mic for another night of the NZ Comedy Festival.
How would you describe ‘Look At Me’? It’s a documentary comedy to make you laugh and make you think. It’s all about whether what we appear to be is actually what we actually are. I got some Arts Council funding to see whether if I changed my outside [appearance], it would affect who I am inside. Using prosthetics and make up, I spent a day as large, a day as a man, a day as an older person, a day wearing the hijab… then I made it into a show.
Where did the idea for the show come from? I’m still really a journalist at heart, and I came up with it as a feature idea first. When I became a performer, I revisited the idea. It was created in 2014.
What wakes you up in the middle of the night? Because I have acute anxiety, I always wake up from really awful nightmares. Anything from sea monsters to mass murderers. Most recently, jet lag has been waking me up. Also, ideas wake me up. The middle of the night is often when I get creative. I can’t sleep so I have to write them down.
Which living person do you most admire? There’s so many! But if I have to name one; Stephen Fry. He’s overcome some challenges with mental health too – he’s suffered from manic depression like me. And he’s just amazing, really.
If we tipped out your (hand)bag, what would we find? Pretty much everything. I have two bags. Mum’s 1970s leather number and a tote bag by a fabulous indie-pendent small business run by two fabulous women called Tease and Totes… They are also on Facebook too; strong supportive women who ship their fab tees and totes worldwide! So I’m tipping them out now and I’ve got – wallet, flight details, flyers, The Art of War by Sun Tzu, hand cream, clove and mint recovery balm, glasses, NZ Comedy Festival pass, five different pens and pencils, perfume, Remedy Roll, hairbands, two necklaces, business cards, room key.
What’s the most important lesson life has taught you? Never give up.
Define creativity in five words or less. Absolute divine necessity and torture.
Favourite ‘Greatest Hits’ album? This year, there are so many I have revisited. Prince and Bowie. Bowie – what a back catalogue. I always play a bit of Bowie before my shows.
The best thing about Friday is… As a freelancer, ‘workdays’ don’t make any sense. But on a Friday there’s a party vibe I really like – a great general atmosphere with the audience.
Who are your dream dinner party guests? Loads! Shakespeare, obviously. Bowie, Stephen Fry, Dawn French, Miss Piggy, Gonzo, Jim Henson, Meryl Streep, David Tennant, Germaine Greer, Maya Angelou… all my favourite bands and current friends. And my granny. She passed away a few years ago and I’d like to have one more chat with her.
What would you cook for them? I’m not a massive cook because of my history with eating disorders, but I’d probably give them the best wine they’ve ever had.
What’s your favourite wine? I used to say bubbly was my favourite. I also love complex, fruity wines. I’m excited to try some New Zealand wines while I’m here.
What do you like best about New Zealand? It’s so stunning. It’s my first time here, and even the small journey from the airport to Auckland was so beautiful. And the people. They’re a nice mix of mellow and friendly… how integrated the Maori culture is. And I love Flight of the Concords.
What are you reading at the moment? The Art of War by Sun Tzu. It’s an ancient Chinese military text. It has 13 chapters, each devoted to one aspect of warfare. My friends gave it to me, and it’s really interesting. When you’re doing something creative, it’s kind of like going into battle, too.
What’s ON for Autumn? Jumpers. I f***en love jumpers. Those really soft ones, like you’re wearing a duvet. And vintage shops.
What’s off? Being a dickhead. Be nice to people! Be lovely.
- Annabel Wilson.
Look At Me was an official sold out show at Edinburgh Fringe 2015. In May 2015 Juliette received the Argus Angel Award for Artistic Excellence at the Brighton Fringe Festival for her updated performance of the show. Juliette performed Look At Me at Adelaide Fringe in March this year, with sold out performances. Do not miss this gig!
“Honest humour at its best…current, relevant and engaging…truly a pleasure to watch.” – HIGHLY RECOMMENDED SHOW – Fringe Review
“Powerful stuff” – Sunday Express (UK) ★★★★
“[She shows] how laughter can transform dark experiences…a complex and interesting show that has the audience feeling uplifted as well as entertained” – The Skinny (UK) ★★★★
Dates: 3 May – 7 May, 7:15pm
Venue: Vault at Q Theatre
Tickets: Full $26, Concession $21, Group $22
Dates: 10 May – 14 May, 7pm
Venue: The Dome at BATS Theatre
Tickets: Full $25, Concession $18, Group $17
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