Anti guru Veronica Milsom tells Cyclone she's here to share her parenting method of "knowing nothing at all".
Veronica Milsom, who co-hosts triple j's Drive alongside Lewis Hobba, is throwing herself into the world of stand-up comedy. The Sydneysider certainly revels in a challenge. Indeed, her show, Parent Virgin, at Giant Dwarf Theatre is about freestyling as a new mum to daughter Lila.
"I'm an anti-parenting guru of sorts, because I didn't get any time in the lead-up to having a baby to read any information about what it's like to parent," Milsom says drolly. "So I basically fumbled my way through it. My first year was a pretty crazy experience – having to do the radio and work out how the hell it all worked. But what I'm gonna be doing is presenting like a seminar – filled with jokes, of course – about my brand of parenting, which is knowing nothing at all. So I'm an anti-guru. I'm like a reality merchant. I tell it as it is."
Milsom's tumultuous introduction to maternity indirectly involves a superhero. "The reason that I didn't actually have any time to read any [baby] books was that I didn't get any maternity leave before having a baby – because the day after I got off-air, I had the baby. So she came a bunch of weeks early. It all was really quick – like I had the baby in three hours. My husband [television producer Nick Hayden] was supposed to be going to the premiere of Thor [Ragnarok] and he was gonna have to hand in his phone – which would have meant that, throughout the duration of Thor being on, he would have missed the entire birth. I wouldn't have had a way of contacting him. Luckily, he decided not to go because I was like, 'Oh, I don't feel so good.' He was like, 'Ok, I'll stay with you." And, in that time, it was all over!"
"It's quite a smutty show, because a lot of being a parent is quite dirty – literally and also figuratively. You're dealing with bodily fluids a lot."
Milsom has used social media as source material for Parent Virgin. "It's actually been interesting how much I get hit up on Instagram with people commenting on things that I've done and then asking questions themselves – which really did lead me to the idea in the first place. I was originally thinking I'll base the show around questions that I've been asked on Instagram – which were just ridiculously practical things like, 'Is your baby doing solids yet?' I would answer all the questions, 'cause I'd be sitting there just breastfeeding with nothing better to do. It became this weird Q&A forum. I was like, 'I don't know anything – why are people asking me? Google it, like I have done!' But it is interesting the way people are constantly just wanting to gather information from sources that are unreliable – like me." In fact, Parent Virgin flips the "dog-eat-dog" competitiveness – and judgement – that accompanies motherhood in the digital age. Regardless, Milsom's routine isn't sentimental. "It's quite a smutty show, because a lot of being a parent is quite dirty – literally and also figuratively. You're dealing with bodily fluids a lot. So it's a bit blue – which is fun – and, unfortunately, it's just my sense of humour."
Growing up in Geelong, Victoria, where she knew Hobba from school, Milsom studied at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts. She gigged on commercial radio in Perth and Melbourne prior to joining triple j's weekend programming in Sydney. Milsom advanced to Drive in late 2014.
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Meanwhile, she honed her chops as a comic writer and actor. Milsom appeared in the sketch program, Hungry Beast. But, here, the expressive comedian is best known as a cast regular on Shaun Micallef's Mad As Hell, which she forfeited for Drive. "I miss it so much," Milsom sighs. "Whenever it's on, I always watch on Wednesday nights and feel nostalgic and think, 'Oh, I miss those guys.' I miss wearing the wigs and doing the jokes and playing with Shaun. It was such a great time of my life." She has previously flirted with stand-up, bringing a one-woman sketch show, Do Not Irony, to the comedy festival circuit five years back.
Milsom realises that her run with triple j has "an expiration date". Though open to future radio jobs, she's likewise hoping to return to the small screen. "This is why I also wanted to do Parent Virgin: this stand-up show was to keep exercising those muscles and writing stuff that I could potentially develop into something more. Maybe there's a TV show idea in here or maybe there's a book idea. I wanted to flesh out some of the jokes and observations that I'd made about my first year of parenting to see what it could turn into."