Billy T Nominee // Alice Brine

On the night of Billy T Jams, Alice Brine had the audience rolling in the aisles while regaling them with a story of a one night stand gone wrong. She’s a brilliant storyteller, and also a person who seems to effortlessly attract ridiculousness into her life, it’s a unique combination.

I’m really excited there are two female Billy T Nominees this year. It’s almost equality.

It’s great right, two whole girls! And Matt Stellingwerf, he’s got long hair, so it actually is.

Yeah, almost. Auckland people don’t know too much about you just yet, so tell me three random facts about you.

I’m from Wellington… I’m up to a lot of stuff, I just made a global synchronized dog walking event, called The Big Dog Walk With Lots of Dogs.

I’ve seen that on facebook!

Yeah so that was me. I’m the genius behind that. It’s like Sydney, Auckland, Wellington and Harajuku Japan, so I’ve got that going on. At the moment I have a growth on my eye, we’re trying to figure out what that is.

That sounds stressful.

It’s not. Apparently it’s fine. And I look like Amy Poehler, people tell me that.

You do.

I get told I look like Amy Poehler, and I changed my profile picture to Amy Poehler, and someone was like, “you look lovely.” And I was like, yesssss.

So what’s your style of comedy?

I think it’s observational, so I had to call up my mum and ask her, “what would you call it?” And she was like, “it’s definitely observational.” So the stuff that people might have seen in Auckland is like, six minutes where I just talk about flatmates and how I work in a software company. With the show I’m doing, Brinestorm, it’s really me getting to be me, and once you get into a spot where you can put in the yards and have more time, do longer shows, you really get to open this gate of what you really love talking about. I just stare at things and I have ideas going on in my head all day long.

Do you have an inside voice that says a joke and another inside voice that laughs at it?

Not really, not like that. It’s more like I have lots and lots of ideas, ’cause I just watch people do stuff, and then if I tell them what they did, they’re like, “Aah! Yes I do that, this is horrible, how do you know that I do that?” I do it a lot. So yeah, I guess it’s observational, sort of social commentary.

Do you test out your jokes at work?

Every now and then I’ll just test it out sort of secretly. The joke is the good bit, so sometimes you have an idea and then you talk to someone about that idea and see if they’re bouncing off it, and then if they are then you have to get to work and figure out how it’s a joke, and then you go to a gig and do it, actually. Then you’re like, that was good, or, that was not good enough for me.

It’s like you’re constantly doing market research.

You’re just constantly thinking about it, but also not, because I’m never trying to come up with ideas and I guess I never really am trying to be funny. But when I get some laughs I’ll be like, okay wait, what was good about that? Because before I started doing comedy I was sort of like, cool, someone laughed, but now I’m like, “I need to know this because my job is on the line, please tell me exactly what is fucking funny about what I just said.”

And then they run away because they’re scared of you…?

Yeah they’re like, “I don’t want to end up in your show, I don’t want to end up in your routine.” I’m not a gymnast, this is not a routine.

What never fails to make you laugh?

Animal chaos, animal chaos videos, definitely where the dad keeps rolling, and you’re like, your child is suffering! And the kid’s being attacked by an ostrich and the dad keeps rolling, that will always get me laughing. What I find funny is what I’m doing on stage, so if I find something funny I’m like, you guys will find this funny, and I’ll talk about the thing. But then what makes me laugh is really different, like if I did a show with what made me laugh, everyone would be like, this is horrible. Because it’s in a really deep, dark bizarre place. The Office BBC. I’ve watched it so many times, I have to pause it so many times and cry because it’s so funny. There’s a show called Green Wing, where intense, obscure scenes get really out of hand, and don’t make sense.

So do you find awkward situations funny. When you’re in them?

No I hate being in an awkward situation at the time, but I like watching it when it’s crafted. Like, Absolutely Fabulous when she’s parodying someone who works in PR and is ridiculous. It’s just so over the top and horrendous. Horrible, weird shit makes me laugh, but that’s not really what I do on stage. I don’t do the really obscure stuff because there’s about 4 people in 1000 that actually find that funny.

How did you get into comedy?

Well I’d hit rock bottom, basically. So I was at high school, fine and dandy, got all these awards for theatre and media studies, went to Uni, did a triple major in theatre and film and media studies. Then I just worked in an insurance company and was like, blah blah blah, and found myself increasingly fucking miserable every day. I didn’t really know why, and then my best friend was like, “Brine, no one’s going to give a shit if you never do anything with your life, but you are going to care, so you need to just start.” Because everything I’d ever done at school was comedy, I was like, I’ve got to do stand up. I was lucky because at my first ever stand up gig, I remember thinking, “this is amazing, this is home, this is what I’m supposed to do with my life. Ah.” It’s still my favourite thing of all creative stuff that I do, is stand up. I love stand up.

I was going to ask if you remember your first ever gig, but you obviously did.

I loved it. In real life, it was probably just a really excited young woman who looks like me with just a bunch of unstructured crazy ideas. I remember watching someone in the audience, who I didn’t know, and they laughed, and I was like, “I don’t know even know her, Oh My God I’ve done it!”

Who are your favourite comedians?

Internationally I think one of the ones that really hit home, is Louis C.K. Oh my god, and Bill Burr. He says really shocking things, and people think it’s offensive and it’s not and I love that. He is on such a deep level of social commentary, it’s such a big picture thing and a lot of people can’t get passed the layer that he’s talking about. I find him so incredibly funny and intelligent. Dave Hughes. And then in New Zealand, everyone from Aotearoha.

Do you mean Dave Hughes as in the Australian comedian, Hughsey?

Yeah, he did great stand up. He did like Rove and stuff like that, one of my first comedy album’s was Dave Hughes’ Whatever, and it’s a CD and I used to listen to it when I was 14 on my CD player. And I still know every single word, and I just find it so funny. But that stand up hour is actually quite different to what you see him do on telly.

As a last word, why should people come to your show?

If they want to go to stand up comedy, then they should come to my show. because it’s going to be… it’s something that you’ve not seen before, I don’t think. I’m really excited about sharing with everyone these ridiculous situations that I’ve got myself into, and I love what happens after each show where people come up to me and are like, proud of me. People get proud of me because what I told you about was funny, but then it’s also kind of empowering. You’ll walk away just learning to trust your own instincts. If I’m okay walking down the street and getting into these situations, you can loosen your buttons a little bit, you can take the reigns off, you’re gonna be fine.

That sounds so heartwarming.

It is!

Alice Brine’s show, Brinestorm, is playing at The Basement, May 10-14.