Quirky songbird set for virtual show

Gillian Cosgriff is coming to Geelong Arts Centre next Friday. (Sarah Walker)

By Luke Voogt

She’s the 33-year-old comedian who plays a 14-year-old dead witch and sings about people who use the hashtag ‘#blessed’ without irony.

Now Gillian Cosgriff is heading down the highway to play in an almost empty theatre for Geelong Arts Centre’s new live-streaming series next Friday.

“It’s the biggest crew I’ve performed to in nine weeks!” she said.

“Years of performing to six people at Adelaide Fringe has really prepared me well for this pandemic.”

Cosgriff had been playing Moaning Myrtle for a much larger crowd in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child just weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

“It’s been a treat, I love playing her,” she said.

After switching to online gigs when the restrictions came in, she was still getting used to delayed reactions to her jokes and songs.

“I did a corporate gig this week on Zoom for some physios,” she said.

“I was holding for laughs and would go, ‘oh no! They’re not laughing!’ It’s not a massive delay but it’s just enough that you wobble for a second. Comedy is about timing.”

Then, just as she was about to soldier on with her next song, she would hear her audience crack up laughing, she said.

“I’d think, ‘do I want to put people on mute? Or do I need people to laugh just to feel good about it?’”

Performing for just a camera next Friday would be even more strange and tricky, she said.

“I do TV stuff sometimes without an audience but it’s rare, and even then there’s a massive crew onset.”

Cosgriff planned to do a “little tapas” of her work with some new material thrown in.

“If there’s a song that you’ve seen me play, that you want to hear, let me know,” she said.

“My mum’s made a request already, so I’ll be doing that for her.

“There’s a brand-new song that I wrote last week – I played it to my boyfriend and some friends.

“It might be a little dark for a live stream. [If] you haven’t tested [material] in front of a live audience, you don’t know if it will land.

“The thing I love most about stand up comedy is you get feedback straight away – you use the audience as a barometer.”

She said she would keep an eye on the comments online instead hoping her new material was a hit.

“Or I’ll make some terrible mistakes, either or. It’s really nice sort of seeing people pop up and ‘arrive’ at the gig.”

Perhaps her biggest endorsement online previously was Pharrell Williams urging his 12 million Instagram followers to check out her cover of Happy, featuring Geelong’s own Robert Tripolino on guitar.

She remembers her reaction to Williams’ video, which her dad texted her with no context whatsoever.

“I freaked out – I jumped in the air, split my jeans and cried tears of joy,” she said.

“Then I wore [the jeans] as a point of pride for the next six months. And because I’m a cheapskate.”

Cosgriff’s stand-up and songs are a witty mix of observational humour, poking fun at anything from 1800s cough medicine to yoga instructors, and her own “ terribly embarrassing” moments.

“I’m just looking at the world and being like, ‘are you guys seeing this?’” she said.

“The way I see it, a good day is good day and a bad day is good story.

“But I get to tell you when you laugh my embarrassing story and people pay money for it. So who’s the real loser? Not me!”

More information: geelongartscentre.org.au

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