Monday 27 February 2017

BLISS! - Melbourne International Comedy Festival preview

These days, you can't ask someone how their weekend was without learning about the new fitness class they discovered. A new, obscure class that involves beating yourself to a pulp, but all worth it for that perfect summer body. Presenting her show BLISS! as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Isabel Angus looks deeper into this cultural phenomenon where merely riding exercise bikes or lifting weights are no longer acceptable while also exploring what the "ideal" actually is in terms of able-bodied youth, beauty, whiteness, wealth and heteronormativity.

"BLISS! is a satirical character comedy, exploring the absurdity of extreme fitness and wellness culture," Angus tells me. "Prepare to be ‘fit-spired’ by twenty-something Penny Parsins, a #fitspo fanatic wellness guru who’s body is a temple and truly believes yours can be too. Except to see inspirational workouts performed by Penny and prepare to feel like a toxic bag of flesh who needs a Fit-tervention from Penny. As a self-appointed life guru, she has got what it takes to show you how you can live your #BestLife. And don’t forget to follow her on Instagram while you’re at it to get a glimpse into Penny's perfect life."

"People should prepare for the possibility that they might walk out of the show having accidentally become a #fitspo who only drinks $15 green smoothies. If all these words seem like another language to you, perhaps it would also be helpful to google ‘wellness’ ‘Kayla Itsiness’ and/or ‘fitspo’ and just see what comes up."

Angus has been performing as Penny for a number of seasons now and received great reviews for BLISS!, yet there were still plenty of nerves about unveiling a brand new character in a solo show. "It was a confusing mixture of absolute terror, panic, excitement and adrenaline, to unleash a whole, new, completely un-tested character into the world like that," she says. "I felt like my insides where being pulverised into one of Penny’s raw, deactivated, re-activated, pulverised, pasturised?, green kale smoothies.

While BLISS! is a comedy show, it's not all #fitspo and games as Angus looks at the darker, underbelly of the fitness world. "I thought that the fitness / wellness craze that has increased in the last few years was a topic ripe for comedy right now. Beyond just wanting to have a laugh about it, I am always interested in exploring trends within the mainstream media, especially ones that seem ‘extreme’ in nature," she explains. "With more and more people making careers out of health and wellness on Instagram, I wanted to explore the darker side of this concept, in particular, elements of shame, body dissatisfaction, digital narcissism and exclusivity that are complicit within the wellness ideology."

Asking what bliss means to her, I get two very different responses, one from Penny and one from Angus. "For Penny, bliss is about looking great in a crop top, wearing the right brands and of course authenticity. For me, it’s eating takeaway in front of a great TV show, seeing performers do their thing and dancing to very trashy pop songs." Give me the latter any day.
Photo Credit: Suzanne Phoenix


The one food I cannot live without is NUTELLA

My most cringeworthy moment in on stage is WHEN A JOKE DOESN’T LAND. It makes you question yourself and wonder why you have chosen this path for yourself in the space of one second. Definitely not the best feeling, but it’s all part of the ride.

A movie that sums up my life is the 1984 film Splash (the one where Daryl Hannah plays a secret mermaid) because I feel like a fish out of water a lot of the time. Like the lead in this film, I feel like I am just pretending to understand how things work, and am pretty much just waiting for the people around me to discover that I am merely masquerading as a proper adult human woman. One who understands things like taxes, excel spreadsheets, twitter, phone plans, bills, cooking meals etc. Also, I am secretly a mermaid too, obvs.

How many seconds before you can't eat food off the floor? 5- 10 seconds I’d say. But it depends on the food and depends on the floor. For instance, yoghurt onto dirt is very different to a grape onto the floor of the Buckingham palace. It would really depend on how hungry I was at the time and more importantly, who was watching me. It’s all just protein and antioxidants in the end isn’t it? 

During MICF, I really want to not injure myself (fingers crossed), stay sane, sell LOTS of tickets to BLISS! and see lots of amazing shows by local artists.

Venue: Greek Centre, Cnr. Lonsdale & Russell St., Melbourne.
Season: 30 March - 23 April | Tues - Sat 9.30pm, Sun 8:30pm
Length: 50 minutes
Tickets: $24 Full | $20 Conc and Preview
| $18 Tightarse Tuesday
Bookings: MICF website

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