The Incredible Journey

3 April 2012 | 11:14 pm | Aleksia Barron

Kate McLennan moved back in with her folks, and found them to be a source of comedy gems. She speaks to Aleksia Barron about her new show, Homeward Bound.

They may say that you can't go home again, but try telling that to Kate McLennan. The award-winning performer is taking on MICF with her show Homeward Bound, which chronicles the somewhat trying (but very funny) past 12 months of her life.

The inspiration for the show came thick and fast when McLennan moved back in with her parents a year ago. “I'd moved home to Mum and Dad's in Geelong after a break-up,” she explains, “and they just seemed to provide me with a lot of material – like the day after I'd moved in, I was miserable and broken-hearted so Mum and my sister took me to a bridal expo to distract me. That stuff just writes itself.”

McLennan was running a regular comedy night, The Wrong Night, and would regale her audience with monthly updates of her post-break-up living-situation progress. “I'd get up there and give the audience an update on my recovery. Lots of references to cutting my fringe, watching The Golden Girls, and Yah Yahs shenanigans,” she says. However, despite realising that there was potential to put together an entire show around the situation, McLennan was hesitant. “I was really worried that talking about a break-up on stage every night would make me feel miserable, particularly when I felt like I'd moved on,” she says. “In the end I cut out a lot of the break-up material, I really only address it for a couple of moments at the beginning because the show has evolved into something else.”

The show became more focussed on McLennan's family dynamic. “My family are lovely and we're very close, but we're not without our faults,” she says. “My mum and sister are very similar, whereas I take after Dad – we both like a drop of the amber liquid, have a preoccupation with death and a healthy dose of anxiety.” She couldn't resist exploiting the latter trait for comedic gold: “I talk about my dad's health battles in the show, but I also talk about how he's managed to milk it for all it's worth. Like when he had prostate cancer he shaved his head – he wasn't losing his hair but he really wanted to make sure people knew that he was ill.”

Still, McLennan's dad loves that she's using their family life as comedic fodder: “In a way me telling these stories is a bit like keeping a family history – it's my way of documenting all the stuff that's happened to us and I think they like that.” However, it turns out that even he has his breaking point. “Dad and I were talking about cremation one day and he said that he didn't want to get cremated because he didn't like getting burnt,” remembers McLennan. “I wrote it down because I thought it was funny and he said, 'Kate don't write that down – it's not funny! This is my LIFE!'”

However, despite the odd scuffle, McLennan says her family are highly supportive of her comedy and performance career. “They're really supportive, it's a weird life though. I don't think they thought I'd follow through with it.” However, follow through with it she certainly has, and there are more big things afoot for her in 2012. “My writing partner, Kate McCartney, and I received the Kit Denton Disfellowship last year to write our narrative TV comedy series Bleak. I'd also love to turn all of these funny family stories into a book, I just need a bossy person to give me a deadline!”