By Luke Voogt
“Deadly funny” duo Shiralee Hood and Kevin Kropinyeri are set to rock the big top at Rippleside Park as live comedy returns to Geelong next weekend.
Noongar-Kurnai-Gunditjmara comedian Hood was thrilled to get back onstage in front of a live crowd last November after several months imagining the laughter in her head during online shows.
“Doing it straight to camera with nobody laughing was a really good lesson,” she told the Independent.
“I would have to hear it my head and react appropriately.
“I was lucky enough to be involved in the Melbourne Fringe gala just before Christmas, in a big hall with everyone in the audience 1.5 metres apart.
“It was fantastic to do it to real-life laughter.”
The reality of the COVID-19 pandemic first hit Hood when organisers cancelled the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.
Hood won the festival’s Deadly Funny competition in 2009 with judges enjoying her “outrageously funny” take on life.
“It was sad at first when we heard that the comedy festival was cancelled,” she said.
“It was a big shock and I realised, ‘this pandemic is real.’
“I missed flying around in 2020 but it’s so good to be back out. I’ve been lucky enough to get a few audiences since COVID but this is going to be fantastic.”
No doubt the pandemic will provide some new material for Hood, who loves “healing” through comedy and having a laugh in horrible circumstances, like when her front teeth got knocked out by a swinging hills hoist.
“I love to do comedy about real life,” she said.
“I’ve done comedy about COVID, the social climate and just being a human and a survivor and having a bit of a laugh along the way.
“I like hard comedy that’s not always easy to talk about. I like talking about things that have happened and healing through laughter.
“From everyday racism to domestic violence and growing up in a low socio-economic neighbourhood in a big family.
“Because I did the comedy about it that, it was kind of healing.”
Recently, she took aim at young people’s obsession with their devices, in Rise of the Planet of the Apps in her own “edgy, cheeky and hilarious” way.
She joked about throwing teenagers mobile phones up trees to get them climbing and seeing the world around them.
“That’s the only way they’re connecting with nature these days,” she said.
She often delves into the political realm too, with her own unique definition of politics:
“Poly means many. And ticks: bloodsucking mongrels,” she said.
Joining Hood under the big top is Ngarrindjeri man and long-time comedic partner Kevin Kropinyeri, from the intimate community of Raukkan, South Australia.
“I’ve done quite a few shows with him,” she said.
“He’s hilarious. He’s always pushing the line.”
Kropinyeri has sold out crowds throughout Australia and beyond.
With high energy and silly onstage antics, he mixes keen observational stand-up with ridiculous physical comedy.
His comedy invites both Aboriginal and non-aboriginal audiences to share his journey, his culture and his life.
Kropinyeri’s last tour of the UK with the Aboriginal Comedy Allstars saw him smash the scene with five-star reviews and sold-out crowds.
“He’s great to watch even though I’ve seen it 100 times,” Hood said.
She encouraged locals to head down to the big top for the show beginning 6.30pm at Rippleside Park on February 7.
The one-hour show also features 45 minutes of pre-show entertainment by local slide guitarist Tim Hulsman.
“I’m looking forward to catching up with Geelong locals and having a good laugh,” Hood said.
“A lot of people have a good laugh and a gut laugh with me.”
The show is part of Geelong Arts Centre’s summer sessions featuring artists, circus acts and comedians such as Tommy Little, Clare Bowditch, Cal Wilson, Claire Hooper, Jude Perl, Meow Meow, Silvie Paladino and more.