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A Well Crafted Line will Stand the Test of Time


Melbourne songstress Ilana Charnelle is known for her commitment to dressing up in vintage glamour get-up every day almost as much as she is for her 1940s inspired vocals. “Forget smart phones, skinny jeans and autotune - I’m here to take you back to the days of love letters, bathtub gin, slow dancing and smouldering jazz!” 


Except without her smart phone, Ilana wouldn’t be able to share her vintage discoveries on instagram. She looks at fashion the same way she looks at songs - by looking back you can see the music and outfits that stand the test of time. They show that they’ve been created by masters of their craft and possess a quality that makes them timeless. A well crafted line, whether it be the cut of a beautiful jacket, a beautifully poignant lyric or an evocative melody, will stand the test of time. 



I sat down with Ilana at The Kettle Black last week to talk about her passion for fashion and performing. But before we delved into that, we spoke about her ‘day job’ at Auslan Stage Left. 


She already knew sign language (Auslan) and so when a job opportunity came up a great company that helped make arts and cultural activities more accessible for hearing impaired audiences, she was excited to combine two of her skills.


“Learning sign language has definitely impacted my life a huge amount. When I communicate I want to sit directly opposite someone so I can clearly see their face. That level of eye contact can weird a lot of people out, but it’s a very ‘deaf’ thing to do.  When I’m communicating with someone I wanted to be absolutely invested in that conversation.”


To approach this interview from a fashion perspective was brand new for me so I asked Ilana to get me up to speed.


“In Melbourne there is a much bigger vintage and pinup community now than whenI first started dressing this way when i was 17 or 18. It’s really grown. A lot of the pinup fashions focus on the rockabilly look, tattoos and a big hair. But my real interest has always been in vintage day. I love how in the 1940s women would wear a pair of slacks and a nice knitted sweater. That’s the stuff I get inspired by because it’s really wearable.”


“A lot of people I pass in the street comment that I’m ‘dressed up’, but back in the day this fashion wasn’t considered dressy at all, it was just standard. Wearing a collared shirt and a pencil skirt, or simple mens’ style slacks with a knit top and sweater. I guess it’s the equivalent of today’s office wear.”


It was also the era of turbans. “I wear a headscarf almost every day. In the 1940s they’d wear a turban style that would cover the whole head with your hair piled on top.”

Ilana confesses to a ‘headscarf addiction’. “I have nearly a hundred scarves. I started collecting them by accident - and then I kept going because they’re cheap and easy buy.” She owns close to one hundred scarves and they are hung around her bedroom, check this blog post on how she designed her personal scarf storage system.


Most of what Ilana wears is sourced from op (opportunity) shops. “In op shops and charity stores you need to be really persistent. You have to be prepared to dig and think creatively when you see something and try everything on - it takes a lot of dedication!”


It’s a matter of deciding what era you want to style your outfit on and then capturing the appropriate silhouette.


In the twenties you’re looking for drop waists and a boyish square sihouette. 


By the 1940s you’re looking for more narrow styles and less detail. Of course at that time there was fabric rationing (due to WW2) and no big skirts. Instead they were narrower, well cut and very structured so they came in at the waist, or had big shoulder pads. 


Then in the fifties when the new look came in thats when it started getting into huge skirts and very very narrow hip to waist ratios and bright colours.



In Melbourne Charnelle shops at Savers in Brunswick or Fountaingate. “If you’re spending a weekend in the country, the country shops are the best because they’re not as accessible and are less scoured.”



Ilana is really interested in the “Teddy Girls” of the 1950s and their rebellious, underground movement. In the fifties there was a new wave of rebellious teenagers. Teddy Girls were a subset of that group, a bit alternative, and these girls would go to the charity shops which at that time stocked a lot of Victorian era (turn of the century) clothes.


“Of course nowadays we get a lot of seventies and eighties clothes in vintage stores, but in the fifties the op shops were filled with Victorian era fashions.” Teddy Girls bought bits and pieces from the 1910s-20s and you can find images of these teenagers wearing contemporary slacks or skinny pants and then they’d have these Victorian jackets or  they’d have walking umbrellas that they’d wear with long overcoats. 


“In this example of a photo from the era I love the classic lines of Victorian fashion juxtaposed with 1950s jeans, with shirts untucked and cigarettes dangling from her fingers.”



In terms of fashion icons, Ilana looks to golden era film stars, but rarely does she focus on their most celebrated glamorous outfits.


“I really like pedestrian street wear - thats a big inspiration for me. So instead of searching for movie stars on the red carpet I might look at Audrey Hepburn in a rehearsal room or Marilyn Monroe doing a script reading as opposed to being on set.”


“Marilyn is my number one vintage icon - I love the relaxed photo shoots when she’s at home, when she’s at a cottage wearing some slacks.”


“There’s a lot of great street style to be discovered from college year books. “There are a few vintage blogs that post yearbooks from the 1940s and 50s and it’s amazing to look at these young girls who are doing their own hair and have incredible style - really simple shirts and sweaters, nice brooches. That’s achievable. I can go out to an op shop and buy a nice white collared shirt and a nice cardigan. I don’t think those classic basics ever go out of fashion.”


In 2013 Ilana was invited to perform as part of the Hollywood Costumes exhibition at ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image). She sang the songs of another film icon, Judy Garland.


At this year’s Melbourne Fringe, Ilana Charnelle is channelling her ‘inner Garland’ for the second time in Sophisticated Lady: A Nightcap with Billie, Judy & Ella, collaborating with Mama Alto (who plays Billie Holiday) and singer-songwriter Satta (Ella Fitzgerald).


Mama Alto and Ilana both studied at Monash University and were involved in student theatre. Friends told Ilana that they should meet and weeks later when they finally met they got along like a house on fire and have been close ever since.


Charnelle and Mama Alto share a passion for vintage fashion. 


“My grandfather was a tailor when he came to Australia after the second world war. He worked for a label called Los Angeles which was under the bigger label Leon Phillips. When my grandmother was alive, she would pull bits and pieces out of her wardrobe and show me the label saying ‘this is what Zayde made’. Then I was in an op shop once and I found a Leon Phillips coat. I wondered if my grandfather had made it - so I bought it. Then one day I got a phone call from Mama Alto out of the blue asking ‘what was the name of the label your grandfather worked for?’ He asked if there was a picture of a fifties woman with a big circular skirt featured on the Los Angeles label and when I said ‘yes’, he said ‘Great I found you a coat. I’m buying it for you!’ It’s a beautiful black and white coat with lining in red. So now every time I go into an op shop I check the label of every coat in the store.”


Ilana’s two favourite songs from Sophisticated Lady are “The Man That Got Away” and “Love For Sale”. 


“I’ve loved The Man That Got Away ever since I first heard the recording of Judy singing it. I love how much emotion is embedded in that song.”


“Mama Alto performs a really beautiful version of ‘Love For Sale’. I first heard the Julie London version of that song and it’s so clever and beautiful whilst it has an underlying bitterness and sadness to it. But when I listen to it I don’t feel sad, just entranced.”


Sophisticated Lady: A Nightcap with Billie, Judy and Ella plays at The Butterfly Club September 23-27 as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival.


An additional Auslan interpreted and mobility aid accessible performance will be held at Hares & Hyenas on September 29.


For bookings, visit: / /


See more of Ilana’s vintage selfies at

her blog at 

or keep up with her on Facebook at





Matthew Carey founded Cabaret Confessional in 2009 to promote cabaret artists to the world at large and to archive just some of the amazing cabaret performances that happen around the world every year. 

His new initiative is The Business of Performing - helping performing artists learn and develop the business skills to turn their passion into a sustainable career. To sign up to the mailing list and get a free copy of ‘12 Social Media Tips to Sell Out Your Next Show” click here.






countertenor (noun)


  1. A man with a singing voice that is higher than usual for a tenor and similar to a low female voice [Cambridge English Dictionary]
  2. The highest male adult singing voice (sometimes distinguished from the male alto voice by its strong, pure tone). [Oxford English Dictionary]
  3. The countertenor voice is a strange and liminal zone within and between the traditional Western classifications of voice types, where men are usually considered as basses, baritones and tenors, and women as contraltos, mezzo-sopranos and sopranos. [Mama Alto]


 - - - - - - - -

Photo credit: Stephen Heath

This week Mama Alto and Miss Chief bring their acclaimed show “Mama Alto: Countertenor Diva” back to Melbourne for a three night run at The Butterfly Club.

The show toured Adelaide Fringe, Perth Fringe World and the Melbourne Cabaret Festival in 2014 and the duo have updated the script and rearranged the score to reflect the world in which they find themselves a year later.


I began this interview uncertain whether I should refer to Mama Alto (the onstage persona) or Benny Dimas (the offstage artist) but I soon realised that this distinction, like many others, is not conveniently black and white.

Mama Alto: Once there was a time when the everyday voice of Benny and the persona of Mama Alto were very different beings but nowadays the two voices have blurred together, and there is less distinction. In Countertenor Diva, I speak and sing as Mama Alto. I developed the onstage persona from that which was already in me.

I took the qualities which someone on the street might use to ridicule me: sexuality, effeminacy, race, gendered ambiguity, the high pitch of my speaking and singing voice. I acknowledged and transformed these qualities so that they became central to my narrative. Now they are empowering sources of pride and triumph rather than causes of ridicule or shame.


Mama Alto’s work invites closer inspection and deeper consideration. As an audience we join the exploration of gender, sexuality, race in music and society as a whole.

Cabaret Confessional: What does the word diva mean to you?

Mama Alto: In today’s world ‘diva’ holds a host of different, and sometimes pejorative, meanings. For some, a diva is the unreasonable and demanding prima donna type, overly dramatic, overly bossy, and overly entitled. 

But let’s look a bit deeper. To me, diva has always meant an artiste who is the epitome of glamorous elegance, exquisite artistry, unbelievable talent and feminine power. 

The diva is unafraid to authentically exercise her power and glamour, and use her talents to be a storyteller and an empath, reaching out to people’s emotions and lived stories through song. 

I am sure that it is no coincidence that in a society ruled so heavily by old patriarchal values, the word diva is now more commonly aligned to the negative meaning. In a society that excludes and marginalises many in order to raise the value of some human beings above others, there is a certain misogyny implicit in encoding feminine divinity (such as the diva) with unreasonable self-interest. 

I am interested in reclaiming this word to acknowledge and explore the power of femininity and femme-ness, which even now within some queer subcultures is derided and denigrated as a negative quality.


Cabaret Confessional: Who do you think of as divas?

When I look at my idols or icons, the divas I would identify begin with some of the fierce blues women of the early twentieth century - women such as Bessie Smith, the so called ‘Empress of the Blues,’ or Gladys Bentley, who infamously and fearlessly advertised her lesbianism and butchness. 

There are great jazz icons who I love dearly, fine musicians including Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Carmen McRae, Nina Simone. These extraordinary talents perfected the art of torch singing into a finely nuanced and subtle exploration of complex gendered and racial meanings. 

Soul legends such as Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight, Patti LaBelle, Etta James, Chaka Khan and the stars of Motown; pop and R&B icons including Whitney Houston, Darlene Love, Lisa Fischer, Donna Summers; extraordinary interpreters of ballads and risqué cabaret fare, such as Lena Horne, Roberta Flack, Cleo Laine, Eartha Kitt, Marilyn Maye, Mary Wilson and Shirley Bassey… and of course some of our contemporary cabaret performers including Yana Alana, Paul Capsis, Meow Meow, Le Gateau Chocolat and Moira Finucane.

A diva is about more than the sequins and gowns. The diva embraces and empowers the fierce beauty, intelligence, empathy, power, love, emotional depths and triumphant endurance of femininity, and uses these attributes to reach out and touch the audience. 


Mama Alto’s voice is beguiling. Listening to its tone and range I can hear both the innocence of a young boy, the passion of a seductress and the control of a master technician. 

Benny has always had the modal, or ‘natural’ countertenor voice. At the age where male voices are expected to ‘break’, Benny’s instead transitioned from high soprano to mellow alto and then filled out into the mezzo-soprano it is today.

Mama Alto: Countertenor has been the term applied throughout history to men with higher pitched voices who are not easily classifiable within the traditional male voice types. They typically have higher pitch within the ‘natural’ modal voice, the ‘castrati’ voice (created as the name suggests through deliberate prepubescent castration), or a cultivated and highly trained falsetto (sometimes referred to as ‘falsettist’ or ‘sopranist’ countertenor). Today we have a handful of acclaimed classical countertenor artists including men such as David Hansen, who have wide appeal travelling the world within opera and art song contexts. 

How does your voice tie in with how you identify yourself?

My personal relationship with the term countertenor has sometimes been a problematic one, because to accept the traditional division of voice types - the male bass, baritone, tenor, the female alto, mezzo-soprano, soprano, and so on - you have to accept the traditional construction of gender and the subsequent gender roles - in singing and in life - as a dichotomous binary system. As a genderqueer person, this is something I have always found worrisome in our society. In today’s Australia especially the reinforcement of gendered norms and gender roles, linked to ideas of heteronormativity and misogyny, have caused terribly worrying social movements and expectations that ultimately do harm to women, men, as well as trans* and GSD (gender and sex diverse) identifying people. 

The fact that having a higher voice - the alto or mezzo-soprano range - usually assigned as feminine, in a body which is usually assigned as masculine, confronts gendered norms is something which ties in intimately and provocatively with how I identify myself as a genderqueer person. I am often read in public situations as different genders - sometimes greeted with “ma’am” when I enter a shop, sometimes with sir - and that my voice, and singing particularly, transcend gendered expectations is integral to what I do on stage and in life. To expand on that, queerness asserts itself by displacing the heterosexist and binary gender expectations of human bodies and personalities, and in my voice, I perpetuate, embrace and celebrate queerness.

Meanwhile, as a person of colour, being able to sing the songs interpreted and made renowned by many of the great African American singers gives me a sense of pride and power in a political climate where brown people are met with fear, suspicion and discrimination - when we look to recent events including Reclaim Australia and their antecedents such as the Cronulla riots, the current abuse and mistreatment of asylum seekers and the blatant disregard for Indigenous Australian human rights, and the worrying continuous undercurrent of “white Australia” patriotism.

Singing with my voice enables me to reaffirm for both myself and my audience that feminine can be powerful, queer can be valid, brown can be beautiful. 


Whilst cabaret is enjoying a resurgence in Australia with festivals around the country, The Butterfly Club in Melbourne remains the nation’s only full-time cabaret venue.

Mama Alto: My experiences with iconic Butterfly Club go back several years, to their original South Melbourne premises. Since then - through eight or nine shows of my own with them, guest appearances in five or six others, and their move from Bank Street South Melbourne to Carson Place in the CBD - my relationship with them has been continually characterised by their overwhelming love and support. The Butterfly Club team - including Simone, Nicole, Xander, Adele, Tom, Dirk, Alex and Craig - are a beautiful and incredible group of people, and without their friendship and their professional support my career as an emerging cabaret artist would never have gotten off the ground. Their amazing business model nurtures independent artists and fosters a strong community of cabaret makers, in diverse forms from jazz, music theatre, comedy, burlesque and more. I have nothing but appreciation, gratitude and applause for this amazing venue. They make a mean cocktail, too.


Cabaret Confessional: What do you consider to be the defining moment of your career to date?

Every time that an audience member waits to see me post performance and tells me that the show touched them in some way or meant something to them, affirming something in their lives or changing their mind about something they had never considered before - those are the defining moments. 


‘Mama Alto: Countertenor’ opens this Friday night at The Butterfly Club. Tickets can be booked through the club’s website. You can also discover more about Mama Alto on Facebook, twitter @MamaAlto and at




May 1 & 2 (9pm), 3 (8pm)

The Butterfly Club, Melbourne 



Synth Pop Reflection on the Power and Pain of Celebrity

“I haven’t even been to bed yet muthafuckas”

The Butterfly Club, Melbourne
Written by Will Hannagan
Performed by Will Hannagan & Robbie Ten Eyck
Original Music: Will Hannagan & Thibaud Mateos
Season: Jan 22-Feb 8, 2015
Reviewed: Feb 1, 2015


Cabaret enfant terrible Will Hannagan debuts his new cabaret ‘Affluenza’ at the Butterfly Club as part of this year’s Midsumma Festival. His entrance in avant garde transparent plastic trench-coat couture sets the tone of the piece beautifully.

From the top of the show the stage is set for a Frost-Nixon scale showdown between recovering former child star William Hannagan and talk show host Robbie St Clair. 

The show plays out on the set of ‘Shades of Beige with Robbie St Clair’ - a parody of the tv talk show format that gives a nod to the ‘Between Two Ferns’ webseries.

Hannagan is desperately seeking a comeback and St Clair (played by Robbie Ten Eyck) is hoping this tell all interview will help lift his tired tv show’s ratings. He has returned post-rehab from his self exiled ‘London Years’ where he lost everything. “I lost my family, my funds, my career.”

Through his original synth pop songs Hannagan reflects on the power and pain of celebrity. He has captured the style perfectly and his brooding baritone voice perfectly suits the intelligent yet catchy moody and disaffected lyrics. 

Will has cowritten the songs with Thibaud Mateos and the tracks are Eurovision-ready, with pulsating beats and hypnotic synth work. The Butterfly Club is known for it’s pared back production and the venue’s sound system probably doesn’t do the music the justice it deserves. At times it’s hard to know where Will’s voice should sit within the mix - at times it gets lost within the track and at others it sits so far in front that he doesn’t have the full support of the accompaniment.

Affluenza deconstructs itself as the talk show sequences dissolve into ‘Real Robbie’ and ‘Real Will’ speaking candidly to each other when the cameras aren’t rolling. The relationship between the two is the most fascinating aspect of the show. The constant swinging back and forth between competitiveness and camaraderie is captivating, as is the rapid-fire pace of their scripted dialogue and the pace of the gags and innuendo. 

In this setting and staging the songs run a little long, the end of most of them could be lovingly trimmed. Where the repeated choruses and outros would work well within a music video or in a club, they slow the pace of the show.

Hannagan and Ten Eyck’s performances are wonderful in Affluenza. Their comic timing is strong and dissolves into a rich pathos as the show develops. The original songs are clever - the lyrics intelligent in some places and perfectly puerile pop in others. The musical staging of the songs could be re-considered to bring them to a more heightened hyper reality - perhaps in a venue that had the production specs to match.

Related link: Simple Two-Question Survey for Cabaret Artists

If you are passionate about cabaret - join the Cabaret Confessional Community here. 


April 2012 What's On @ The Butterfly Club (Melbourne) 

The Butterfly Club

is located at 

204 Bank Street

South Melbourne 3205

Victoria, Australia

Phone enquiries: 03 9690 2000




 April 1 - 22 Tues, Weds, Sun @ 8.00pm, Thurs, Fri, Sat @ 9.00pm (No Show on Mondays)  

MICF 2012 - SIMON TAYLOR 10 Things I Know About You

Simon Taylor loves psychology. His enthusiasm for the human mind turns into a comedy show about morality, happiness, language and love.

10 Things I Know About You is a witty exploration of the secrets the subconscious keeps from us.

Love is one of the most beautiful experiences one can have. Simon discovers that people can be attracted to others because of their personality or simply because they share similar letters in their names. Romantic revelations put a unique spin on the common view of attraction and falling in love.

People can be moral enough to empathise with a starving child on TV, all the while eating a slice of chocolate cake. Simon entertains the hope that we are fundamentally moral as he peels back the intentions behind acts of charity.

Everyone wants to be happy. Western life is full of material things and countless opportunity, but what really makes us smile is hidden away in the back of our mind. 10 Things I Know About You reveals the simple truth about being happy in a modern world.

***** - Artshub

****“Taylor is warm, funny, clever and engaging. Don’t miss him. - Herald Sun

Intelligent stuff from a rising talent” – The Age

$25 / $21 (concession)/ $20 (group of 8 or more)

Click here for bookings or call 03 9690 2000.


April 1 - 22 @ 9.30pm Sun, Tue, Wed


What happens when a bogan, belly dancer from Reservoir with severe delusions of grandeur, and a Toorak grand dame, who still believes in the White Australia policy, are thrown together with no escape? On the surface it seems Davina and Lay-lah have nothing in common… or do they? Find out in PYRAMIDS & PIMM’S!

Written and performed by Caroline Ferguson & Yvonne Malik.

Directed by Ross Daniels (Punked, Spontaneous Broadway).

$22 / $18 (concession)/ $18 (group of 8 or more) $15 Tightass Tuesday

Click here for bookings or call 03 9690 2000.



April 5 - 21 @ 10.30pm Thurs, Fri, Sat

MICF 2012 - Kelfi and Fikel

Fiona Della Ca and Kellie Higgins are Kelfi & Fikel (Slide Cabaret Festival, Canal Café Theatre UK), a quirky new musical comedy duo. Their original songs and sketches are irreverent, crude and unapologetic. You can’t help but laugh, blush, or at least tap your foot as they team up their warped characters in off-the-wall scenarios.

With Higgins at the piano, their beautiful voices wonderfully compliment each other, so, despite whatever profanities or obscenities might be coming out of their mouths, they are at least easy on the ear.

Kelfi & Fikel have been likened to French and Saunders, the Mighty Boosh, Cook and Moore, and Snugglepot and Cuddlepie on acid. The relationship between Della Ca & Higgins (real-life friends since primary school) is unpredictable, daring and a joy to behold.

If you enjoy a character-based, naughty cabaret, with more one-liners than you can poke a stick at, come and check out the uniquely twisted perspective of Kelfi & Fikel in their Melbourne Comedy Festival debut.

For more information check out

“Properly brilliant” - Jessica Fostekew, Comedian

$22 / $19 (concession)/ $18 (group of 8 or more)

Click here for bookings or call 03 9690 2000.



April 3 , 4, 8 @ 6.00pm, April 5, 6, 7 @ 7.00pm

MICF 2012 - Dave Purcell - MIX TAPE

Mix Tape.


An outdated format given as a ‘gift.’ May contain subliminal and/or cheesy messages.

Compare the product lifespan with the time and energy of production itself and a mix tape can often seem economically unviable. Truly it is the nostalgic epitome of ‘the thought that counts.’

With Dave Purcell and Special Guest

“A standout… Purcell’s fine voice.” - The Age

“Channeling an odd Tim Minchin/Captain Jack Sparrow hybrid… an engaging and charming host, delivering cleverly-conceived feelgood songs with just the right dose of cynicism.” -

Finalist of the 2011 Short and Sweet Cabaret Festival

$20 / $15 (concession)/ $15 (group of 8 or more)

Click here for bookings or call 03 9690 2000.



April 10 – 22 Tues, Weds, Sun @ 6.00pm, Thurs, Fri, Sat @ 7.00pm (No Show on Monday 16)  

MICF 2012 - An Unexpected Variety Show

WINNER: Excellence in Cabaret Award, Melbourne Fringe 2011.

An Unexpected Variety Show fuses together stand-up, musical and character comedy with a poignant narrative about the unexpected aspects of life.

The show is a comedy cabaret, however with its deeply personal storytelling, is unique in that it has moved audiences consistently to both laughter AND tears.

“…a highlight of Melbourne’s Fringe Festival. Wynter is a vivacious ball of energy…captivates..from start to finish.”- Beat Magazine 

Don’t see Jenny Wynter’s show without a packet of tissues and three coats of waterproof mascara – I laughed and cried (often simultaneously), at this fabulous fusion of wit, musical talent, great physical comedy and poignant storytelling.”Brisbane News 

$27 / $24 concession/ $23 (group of 8 or more)

Click here for bookings or call 03 9690 2000.


Drew & Tyson: Live @ The Butterfly Club

Two of Melbournes’ favourite live performers pair up for an acoustic session like no other.

Seasoned Melbourne artists Drew Downing and Tyson Legg present a collection of crowd favourites and a few new-spins on classics.

$28 / $25 concession/ $23 (group of 8 or more)

Click here for bookings or call 03 9690 2000.



*If you are interested in having your show featured on Cabaret Confessional, click here for more information.

Find out how YOU can become an exclusive Founding Patron of Cabaret Confessional.

Subscribe to Cabaret Confessional via email.

‘Like’ Cabaret Confessional on Facebook and follow us on Twitter



Interview: The comedic mind over matter


Photo by Carey Cuiro


Psychology graduate turned entertainer and recent ‘Under Our Wing Award’ winner Simon Taylor earned his reputation as a ‘mind reader with his debut show Pieces of Mind. He now returns to the stage of the Butterfly Club for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival next week with a new show 10 Things I Know About You. Simon manages to make the deep and meaningful topics into laughter but still gets the mind buzzing.

As Simon prepares to get his audience to ponder on morals, happiness, love, language and human minds in the most comedic way possible, he spoke to Cabaret Confessional about the show, his background and how comedy and cabaret collide.

Your new show 10 Things I Know About You is about “morality, happiness, language and love” – what can the audience expect from the show?

They can expect a careful blend of silly dancing, stand-up comedy, songs and academic psychology.


They are big and deep topics. How did you turn them into comedy?

Comedy is a vehicle in which you can explore any topic really. I just try to look at what it means to be human, which is a goldmine of inconsistancies and irony.


What were the joys and challenges of writing this show?

The joy was the creating part. The challenge was the editing. It’s easy to write things that you think are funny, but the process of culling the weaker material happens over the months you work it all out at local comedy rooms.


The best part of performing this show?

Improvising a new song every night. I get to create something new during each show and that’s exciting for me.


What do you love about psychology?

I love the paradox of trying to understand the very system we operate under. 


What inspired you to explore your interests and ideas of the human minds in the style of comedy instead of, say, clinical research?

There tend to be less groupies in clinical research.


Outside of your performing life, you’ve also worked with Autistic children.  How did the experience affect you?

It made me more skeptical of diagnosis and helped me understand that mental health labels come with both positive and negative aspects. I very much loved working with kids as they revealed to me how brilliant a young mind can be. Autism therapy was just about managing normal behaviours that were in extreme proportions. Plus I got to play with Thomas The Tank Engine toys a lot. So that was cool.


You’ve recently won the ‘Under Our Wing Award’, one of the prestigious awards given to emerging artists. What does it mean to you?

I think it’s just The Butterfly Club’s way of say “we don’t think you’ll be a starving artist forever’. That’s nice.


Cabaret and comedy are intertwined and you’re a closely associated with the cabaret community. What draws you to cabaret?

The unapologetic nature of interacting with the audience. Making people feel comfortable enough to let you break the fourth wall and give them an entertainment experience unique to them. 


What is cabaret to you?

Cabaret is for entertainment misfits who want to express themselves with a range of performance skills. It a place for the ‘not just a singer’ performers.


You’ve written a song for a talented cabaret star Gillian Cosgriff’s debut EP. How did that come about?

I was speaking to her on Facebook after meeting her at a fundraiser show. We’re so GenY. She said she was in a bit of a panic about not having enough songs for her show. I said she could have one of mine that I had just written. Her reaction was “sweet, free song!”


Would you ever consider writing songs for your own cabaret show?

There are three songs in my current show. They’re in the style of comedy, but there is a strong cabaret influence there.


Simon Taylor will be performing his show at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival between March 28-April 22. Click here for more information and bookings.


*If you are interested in having your show featured on Cabaret Confessional, click here for more information.

Find out how YOU can become an exclusive Founding Patron of Cabaret Confessional.

Subscribe to Cabaret Confessional via email.

‘Like’ Cabaret Confessional on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.