"Come to think of it, I've been called crazy a lot."
It's 7.30pm on a Wednesday night and Emily Tresidder is about to do a set at The Record Crate in Sydney. "I've spent all day going through my show with a fine-toothed comb choosing what has to go, what definitely has to stay, and reworking old bits. I'm definitely not going to rest on my laurels. There's always room for improvement and I want the show to be the best that it can be."
The young Sydneysider has recently returned from a run of six sold out shows at Fringe World in Perth. Her show, Crazy Is, will soon be seen by audiences across Australia and in Edinburgh, so any gags that need a-tweakin' are happening here. Of course, some time at home also comes with a (semi-)regular pay check. "My day job is in retail; I sell really expensive shoes to really glamorous people. My work is accommodating, which is great because I need the funds; they're happy for me to go to all the Festivals and keep working when I come back. I don't know how consistently I'll be able to do that, though, because then I'm away a lot this year!"
"My day job is in retail; I sell really expensive shoes to really glamorous people."
Far from the daily grind of being a shopgirl, Crazy Is is a response to a comment Tresidder received from her 2015 show, Absolutely Ridiculous. "I got a review that called me 'a little bit crazy'. It was a glowing review of the show, but I couldn't get past that sentence. Why did they call me crazy? Then I thought about it and realised that by definition — and also by today's standards — I probably am. Come to think of it, I've been called crazy a lot, actually.
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"So I started writing a show about that and the perception of crazy and then it just turned into an hour of me talking about all the crazy stuff I've done. What's really been great is that people have been coming up to me after the show telling me their own brand of crazy."
As Tresidder acknowledges, any comedic take on what it means to be crazy in 2016 comes with it a responsibility to address the elephant in the room: the serious side to mental health. "There's no doubt I've considered the line between serious mental health issues and the chance to simply get a laugh, and to consider what would push me over that line. But there's a very decisive point in the show where I address it. Despite it being a comedy show, it's a moment where I'm not expecting any laughter."
Once the serious note has been sung, though, Crazy Is is plenty of fun. Audience participation plays a key role, and Tresidder uses her background in sketch comedy to draw the crowd right in, even inviting them to name her chief protagonist. It's a choose-your-own-adventure comedy show, and not even she knows who she'll be playing from one night to the next. "One day it's Grace, the next it's Shanaynay."