Denise Scott (pictured) is a well-loved Melbourne based stand-up comedian, actor and radio and TV personality. She has appeared regularly on TV shows such as Full Frontal, The Today Show and The Big Gig, and was the breakfast host at Melbourne radio station Vega FM for 3 years and is currently a regular on Spicks+Specks on ABC TV. All That Happened at Number 26 is her first book.
Demonstrating what it takes to hold it all together when you want to follow your career aspirations, maintain the love in a marriage, bring up kids who will get up off the couch, and look after an aging parent – all while retaining a healthy sense of self-doubt, Denise Scott’s first outing as an author is truely a heart-warming read.
But Denise Scott told Australian Women Online that although she enjoyed writing this book, her first book will most likely be her last. “Of everything I’ve ever done people seem most fascinated by a writer. We had a launch [of the book] and the audience seemed so much more interested than when I’m a comedian at a gig. But I think I’ve only got the one book in me unfortunately.”
In 1983 Denise Scott moved into number twenty-six with a husband, his circus equipment, a king-sized futon sans base, a Ventolin inhaler (to cope with stress-induced asthma), no savings and a newborn baby. The husband lost his eyebrows, the circus equipment multiplied; the futon went mouldy; the Ventolin ran out; and another baby was added to the family, putting an end to any ideas of saving for a rainy day – when the roof actually leaked. But through all this and all the proceeding years, Scott did what a lot of us do when raising a family, she kept her sense of humour.
“I’ll never forget the first time John and I saw number twenty-six. We just knew it was going to be ours. It was so awful and ugly and repulsive in every way, not to mention the fact that it was located in a suburb I had sworn I’d rather die than live in, that we knew we had a great chance of getting it.”
– ‘All That Happened at Number 26’ by Denise Scott
Despite living much of her professional life in the public eye, Denise Scott – who still lives in number twenty-six with her husband John, maintains she hasn’t had what she would call a particularly interesting life. But it is perhaps her more ordinary experiences as told with Scott’s trademark candour and sense of humour that will resonate most with readers anyway.
“Your kids having eczema really isn’t that exciting and everybody has parents that die, and lots of people live in a run-down house. But I really do delight in those sorts of stories and I love hearing them and many people apply a sense of humour to everyday life, especially the challenges of everyday life,” she said.
Of course it is when life presents us with the most difficult challenges that we most need to find humour in everyday situations. As Denise Scott explains, “In the second last chapter of the book I talk about my mum who has Alzheimer’s and is in a Dementia unit. I go there 3 times a week and I play bingo and I find a lot of humour in that situation and I never dreamed I would find humour in a Dementia unit. My mum is quite happy and calm at the moment and it really is a delight to go there and hang out with her and the other residents.”
Released in November 2008, Scott says reaction to the book has been really positive.
“I do mostly stand-up gigs and if people laugh then you’ve done your job and you go home and that’s the end of it really. And if people don’t laugh, you’ve failed – and it’s really quite clear, and you go home and you feel miserable and you try and work out what went wrong. But with the book people have liked the honesty.”
“What I’ve found surprising is the number of people who’ve said at various points [in the book] they’ve cried because it’s triggered something that’s happening in their life – a friend was crying because she’s never had children and someone else was really sad because they didn’t own a house. People have said they do laugh a lot and cry occasionally.”
Often funny, always candid and occasionally sad, All That Happened at Number 26 is a memoir of life in suburbia as told by one of Australia’s most gifted and accomplished comedians.
All That Happened at Number 26 is published by Hardie Grant Books and is available now from all good book shops and online retailers for RRP $29.95.
Denise Scott is currently writing a play with fellow comedian, Judith Lucy and will embark on a national live comedy tour in 2009.