Corn Kernals, Dumplings & Oatmeal with Comedy Extraordinaire Mae Martin

By Isabella Cornell

Canadian-born, UK-based comedian Mae Martin never shies from the utterly personal. Starting comedy at an incredibly young age, Mae’s frank and confessional style of stand-up provides a commentary on the world around us, forging a light-hearted but topical plea for a deeper understanding of gender, sexuality, and in her latest show, addiction.

Taking part in this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Martin’s latest show Dope has garnered rave reviews, describing the 29-year old comedian as “unexplainably likeable… bringing a truly raw energy to the Melbourne Town Hall Powder Room.”

With Dope making its way to Sydney audiences at the end of April, we caught up with Mae to chat sexuality, the nature of comedy, and her love of goats.

First of all, how are you liking being in Australia? Are Australian audiences different from other countries where you’ve performed?

I’m hesitant to say I’m having the time of my life in case a piano falls on me tomorrow but.. I’m having the time of my life. I love Australia and the audiences have, so far, been great.

Your previous show ‘Us’ looked at labels and sexuality and how we’re maybe looking at it all in the wrong way… Can you tell us a bit about your views on this? 

The last show was sort of about how complex and individual sexuality is, and how beneficial I personally think it would be if we broke down restrictive labels. I think we’re headed that way, with almost 50% of people under 25 in the U.K. recently saying in a uGov survey that they don’t identify as either gay or straight. It was also just a dumb silly show about my childhood and how I want to sleep with everyone regardless of their gender.  

Do you think comedy lends itself to these sorts of dialogues?

Totally! Comedy’s always been an excellent tool for subtle subversion because you relax people by making them laugh, and then it’s easier to change their minds when you hit them with something with heart.

Will Dope have a different focus to Us? Can you tell us a bit of what its about? We’re waiting to see it in Sydney!

Dope is about obsession and addiction, and how we all have the potential to become addicted. Like the last show it sort of looks at how maybe we’re looking at addiction in the wrong way. It goes chronologically through my four major addictions in my life, Bette Midler, Comedy, Drugs, and Love. I don’t think that’s a spoiler. Also – it’s not heavy. It’s funny I swear.

You’ve been doing stand up since you were incredibly young- what drew you to it?

I was in the middle of a hectic puberty, feeling like a total weirdo and trying to fit in, and then suddenly I found this community of people who were standing on stage and saying how weird they were out loud and being applauded for it. It was like the absolute reverse of high school, where the goal was to be the same as everyone else. And I just liked being around funny people. Laughing is good.

Who would play you in a movie?

I’d be played by a kernel of corn on the end of a stick and they’d just kind of shake it around the screen

Who is your comedy crush? Who would you love to work with in the future?

There are so many. I love Maria Bamford.

Your shows are hilariously personal and often draw from your life and experience. As an openly queer, female performer, do you think that you have a responsibility as an artist to use your art as a platform?

I try to remind myself that my only responsibility is to be funny. That’s my job. Sometimes I talk about “issues”, sometimes I talk about random stuff like earthworms, and mostly I talk about my life. If I can in any way make a difference by being openly bi, that’s just excellent accidental icing on the cake.  

Three favourite things?

Bette Midler, goats, dumplings

Why do you have a tattoo that says oatmeal?

I thought it was really funny when I was 16. It’s been a little less funny every day since.

You seem super busy between doing gigs and hosting Mae Martin’s Guide to 21st Century Sexuality! What’s next for you?

I’m running around like crazy right now! I’m working on a book that’ll be out in a year, a new radio series, I have a DVD coming out in the summer, and just generally developing this new show Dope and touring it. I’m excited for people to see it. I hope people come in Sydney.

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