Comedian and radio and TV personality Meshel Laurie was once Michelle Laurie, whose story begins in Queensland. Michelle survived her Catholic schooldays but by Year Nine had morphed into Meshel, who daydreamed of moving to Melbourne - home of Dogs in Space and the back room of the Espy.
Meshel's insider's perspective on the 1990s comedy scene is intimate and more than a little surprising. She paints a picture of a close-knit environment and tells before-they-were-famous stories about up-and-comers who are today's household names, and about the kindness of comic superstars she encountered along the way: Dave Hughes, Julia Morris, Rove, Wil Anderson, Wendy Harmer and others. We find out about the workings of an inner-city brothel, what it's like to be 'the girl on Rove' and how fence-painting can help save a life.
The Fence-Painting Fortnight of Destiny is an honest and heartfelt look at life in all its messiness and unpredictability.
Meshel Laurie is a comedian presently on air (Nova) in Melbourne. You'd have seen her on television on Can of Worms, Spicks and Specks and GNW; she was a regular on Rove and the Circle. She also writes for Mamamia and is highly active on Twitter, where she has over 30 000 followers.
Meshel has been a stand-up comedian since 1994, and appeared in fourteen Melbourne International Comedy Festivals, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Melbourne Fringe Festival, Adelaide Fringe Festival and a sell-out season of a one-woman-show at the Sydney Opera House. Meshel is a member of the Advisory Board of SISHA (South East Asia Investigations into Social and Humanitarian Activities), an ambassador of Karuna Hospice, an ambassador of Childsafe Australia and an ambassador of A Flying Start for Queensland Children, for the Queensland Department of Education and Training.
The Fence Painting Fortnight of Destiny: A Memoir
Allen and Unwin
Author: Meshel Laurie
Question: Can you, please, explain the title of your memoir: The Fence-Painting Fortnight of Destiny
Meshel Laurie: It all makes sense about half way through. I won't ruin it for you, but I will say that it's amazing how clearly you can think about the big issues when you're bored stiff, standing in the front yard, painting a fence.
Question: What or even who originally inspired your passion for stand-up and comedy?
Meshel Laurie: It was definitely watching The Big Gig, which was a TV show on the ABC in the late 80s and early 90s that showcased local stand up comedians. It just caught me at the perfect moment of teenage development.
Question: Was it difficult, when writing, to relive some of the more difficult times, in your life?
Meshel Laurie: Yes it was, but it was outweighed by the joy of remembering great things I hadn't thought about in a very long time. Thinking about my primary school years in the early 80s was a hoot and inspired a sort of fashion revival for me.
Question: You've never had a dull career; comedy, receptionist at a Melbourne brothel, radio and so forth, do you ever have a -typical' day?
Meshel Laurie: I try to make every day count in some way, toward something. I don't like the feeling of wasting time.
Question: When writing The Fence-Painting Fortnight of Destiny were you able to pinpoint certain times of your life, which made you who you are today, that you hadn't thought about previously?
Meshel Laurie: Yes, absolutely! I don't tend to look back very much, so there were lots of connections I'd never made before that were very obvious when I was forced to think about it all. I must admit, I did find my 10 year old self quite inspiring.
Question: What do you hope readers take from your memoir?
Meshel Laurie: I hope they realise that we humans have much in common, and that everyone is so busy worrying about their own foibles, we can actually get away with going a little bit easier on ourselves.
Interview by Brooke Hunter