Everyone loves a good laugh, and I must admit, when it comes to comedians, a good comedienne can often be the master at really seeking out and tickling that funny bone. Perhaps, as women, it’s because we can relate to the female funnies more readily. Perhaps it’s because we understand the little life subtleties that are so prevalent in female humour. Or perhaps it’s because women can just be so bloody funny.
Waist-deep in a depressed book market, it’s lovely to find a memoir that not only makes you laugh, it makes you think. And feel. We of the Never Never is a book that curls around you and hugs you – for its ability to be funny, yes, but also frank. O’Loughlin writes with a clarity and openness that’s akin to a cup of tea over the formica counter top in your grandma’s kitchen. It even comes with scones. Warm, sweet, quite delicious.
O’Loughlin is actually a mother of five, and if that doesn’t hone your funny hone, I don’t know what will. The author could never have predicted she’d end up with five kids, living in Alice Springs with a husband who makes false teeth for a living, and going to work as a… stand-up comedian, but it also comes as no surprise – well, the comedian part, anyway.
Her career path wasn’t exactly planned or anything, but O’Loughlin had always been a storyteller – or as she puts it – a Keeper of Stories. She had also spent many years performing in the odd play and emceeing the odd event around Alice Springs, when the Northern Territory Arts Minister suggested she put in for a career assistance grant. The only problem was, she didn’t know what her career was.
Most kindly, the director of the Araluen Arts Centre told her it was called ‘stand-up’. O’Loughlin applied and lo – her $600 career grant was granted. Before she knew it, she was off to Melbourne to ‘observe comedy’ – a trip that changed the course of not only her career – but her life.
Now a well known comic, O’Loughlin has travelled the world with her story-based comedic routines. She has headlined at LA’s world-renowned Improv Comedy Club and has titillated the crowds in Edinburgh and Montreal. She has appeared on Good News Week, Spicks and Specks, Sunrise and many a comedy festival gala. And she still lives in Alice Spring with her family.
Therein lies the charm of Fiona O’Loughlin.
Her memoir is charm personified in that it’s not only a fascinating journey through an Australian woman’s life, its candour and honesty is kind of heart-melting. It’s a story of real life, of loss, of togetherness, of raising an army of kids (including foster children; yes this woman has an enormous heart) and a battle with alcohol that is nothing short of inspiring.
From her heart-thundering about-to-go-on-stage/will-they-think-I-suck? scenes to her reminiscences on how it feels to be courageous and take control of your life once and for all, this is a book you will find yourself relaying to people over the water cooler, at your mother’s group or at that high-powered business meeting. It’s a book that brings women together, no matter their background or where they are planning to go. It’s for anyone with a sense of humour and for anyone wanting to rekindle their passion for life.
Well-written, funny and poignant, O’Loughlin’s knack for dialogue is a high point of the book, as are her choice of stories to regale us with – but the real strength of this book lies in ‘ordinary’ moments we all experience. Those everyday occurrences that ping at our hearts. And make us laugh. And thus, Me of the Never Never is far from ordinary.