By Luke Voogt
Kiwi funny woman Cal Wilson loves probing her audience for a good laugh.
“Everyone has a story,” she explained.
“I had a friend that I’d known for 20 years and they told me recently they were nearly killed by a coconut.
“I was like, ‘how did you never tell me this?’ That would be my introduction: ‘hello, my name’s Cal, I was nearly killed by a coconut’.
“I tend to chat to the audience. I ask questions like what’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve done or who has a weird middle name.
“I just like the feeling of a room laughing and it doesn’t matter who makes it happen.”
While the friendly stand up usually gets along well with her audience, she admits once being heckled by a guide dog puppy-in-training.
“It just wouldn’t stop barking!” she said.
“I don’t know if it was telling me there weren’t enough cat jokes or what. You can’t be mean to a guide dog puppy! It’s not going to understand English for a start.”
Wilson will head to Geelong next Wednesday for her first show there in “ages”.
“I think the last time we came to Geelong was for a basketball game for my son,” she said.
“My ability to tell time has vanished – everything pre-pandemic feels like it happened 50 years ago.
“I can’t remember anything bad about my last Geelong show. You tend to remember the hecklers and stuff.”
Like in her recent return to stand up at The Espy in St Kilda late last year.
“Fifty-nine people were all really excited to hear comedy live again and there was one person who just wanted to heckle,” she said.
“I was impressed that they got straight into it.”
Heckler or not, Wilson was thrilled to return to the stage.
“Nothing beats a room full of people laughing,” she said.
She remembered her apprehension ahead of her first Zoom show months earlier during COVID-19; a corporate gig for 83 lawyers across Asia.
“I didn’t know if their lockdown experience had been the same as mine,” she said.
“I didn’t know if Shanghai had gotten into banana bread.
“They were all on mute, I could only see one screen and they were all wearing masks, so I had no way to tell if they were enjoying it.
“That felt like a comedian’s nightmare – the only way it could have been worse would be if I’d forgotten to put a top on.
“They got me back for another one – so they must have liked it.”
Wilson has spent most of the pandemic doing gigs, some “in the UK”, with fairy lights in her spare room.
“The three-second commute is amazing,” she said.
“Everyone likes to see in everyone’s houses, that’s my favourite bit, checking out their bookshelves or if their cat’s wondered in.”
Next Wednesday at the big top in Rippleside Park Wilson teams up with one of her best friends on and off stage, Claire Hooper.
She and Hooper shared more than the mic during their first tour together.
“She got gastro and got better, then I got it,” Wilson said.
“It was really exhilarating getting through the show and nothing getting out that wasn’t supposed to.
“It was one of those ordeals that you come out of stronger on the other side.”
She is thrilled to perform in Geelong after spending much of 2020 unable to travel.
“You guys are exotic now,” she said.