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Man Up: It's "Being Honest About Stuff"

21 March 2016 | 2:52 pm | Annabel Maclean

"You wouldn't pressure a couple about anything else. You wouldn't go, 'You guys should smoke some crack'."

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"There's a trick to Ikea furniture," Urzila Carlson says down the line from her home in New Zealand.

"Honestly, you'll be more successful if you build something from scratch. Ikea will ruin your marriage." These are wise words from the lady who does "some of the butch stuff around the house" and is a hot topic for her show Man Up, which will be making its Australian debut at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

"To me Man Up is about being honest about stuff — so everything from my really shit taste in music [to], because I'm a lesbian, people wonder, 'Well, which one is the man?'. So I try and open that up and give them a little glimpse into that. I talk about my responsibilities — everything from raising a child to getting married."

Roughly a year and a half ago, Carlson married her partner Julie and they now have a little daughter. "It hasn't changed anything," she says of marrying Julie. "People were peer-pressuring us. It's gotta be the most socially acceptable peer-pressure in the world. People go, 'You guys should get married', 'Why aren't you getting married?'. It's ridiculous. You wouldn't pressure a couple about anything else. You wouldn't go, 'You guys should smoke some crack'.

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"And it never ends, though. As soon as you get married, people go, 'When are you having kids?'. And then you have a kid and the kid is still fresh and they go, 'When are you having another one?'. So I talk about all of those things in Man Up."

Carlson is pumped to be back at MICF for another year, having already toured Man Up around her homeland. "It's not like at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival where I perform for 23 nights in a row," she says of the New Zealand touring circuit. "In New Zealand it's three nights in Wellington, three nights in Auckland and four nights in Christchurch. I've done it seven times.

"I like to try [the show] out in New Zealand because the audiences are more accepting and because I'm on telly a bit they already like me, whereas in Australia they're like, 'Just be funny, don't try shit out, just be funny'. I like it under the pump there, it makes for a better show; 'I don't want a learner driver, let's get in the car and go'. [Laughs]. It's really nice to have that for a month where you go, 'Alright, these people expect more'."

Overall, she's a big fan of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. "My first time in Melbourne — half the people ignore you but the other half are like 'are you here for the festival?' and they're so open to it and the community spirit around the comedy festival is phenomenal. You don't get that in any other city."

As for fellow comics whose shows she'll be heading along to at the festival, Carlson says it'll be a bit of a gamble and that's just how she likes it. "Honestly I'll go see anyone. I like to look at all the rookie comics and go see them because I remember when I went over the first year... and it was really tough to get numbers in. You don't know what you're gonna get when you see a rookie comic. It's amazing, I love it. I'll go see Nazeem Hussain. He's just such a funny dude."

After her run at the festival, Carlson will be joining the annual Roadshow before heading back to New Zealand. "Then we're expecting a second baby in August," she says, excitedly. "So before you know it we'll have another kid, so I better stay on the circuit [laughs].