Interview: Melanie Bracewell on Making People Laugh Via The Internet

Melanie Bracewell is a 21 year old comedian who lives in Auckland, New Zealand. As well as doing regular stand up she runs a popular Tumblr called Meladoodle (which is pretty much my favourite Tumblr ever and everyone must follow it immediately).

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What was it like for you growing up and how did you get into comedy?

When I was growing up, I never knew that not everyone was funny. My family were all cracking jokes all the time, to the point where I just thought that was everyone’s goal in life – to be funny and make people laugh. It wasn’t until I started school I was like, oh wow, I guess that’s not everyone’s thing! It took a while for me to be confident trying to be funny with people at school. The thing I remember most about high school is saying jokes quietly, and then a guy near me just repeating my joke loudly to the class and getting a big laugh. I didn’t really mind though, it was satisfying enough knowing people found my thing funny, even if it was presented to them somewhat second-hand.

I basically started “comedy” on the internet through Tumblr. ‘Meladoodle’ was originally a flower blog with the occasional funny thing. I started to realise people weren’t really interested in these pictures of flowers I’d found online and added a filter to. I was getting the biggest responses from my silly stories and jokes, so I just kinda segued into doing that exclusively. If you go far enough back in my blog you’ll see I’m not joking, it was literally like.. daisies and chrysanthemums and stuff. I eventually got enough of a following from jokes, that my followers encouraged me to enter real life comedy competitions and whatnot.

What are the positives and negatives about being popular on the Internet?

Some would say it’s a negative aspect that you really have to watch what you say online, but I actually enjoy that. Tumblr especially has such a wide community, that I’ve messed up a couple times and spoken out of turn. I really like the fact that people aren’t afraid to let you know if you’ve offended them. I think it’s made me more sensitive and aware of issues. The main negative is probably how random guys send me photos of their dicks.

How do you think New Zealand comedy and its community is different to the rest of the world?

I feel like even as a raw comedian, you get to meet and hang out with some pretty established comics. The community is tighter, so if you’re at a comedy festival party, you’ll probably be hanging out with some pretty big deals. I haven’t really done comedy outside of New Zealand so I don’t even know!

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If you could give one piece of advice to a young person wanting to get into comedy, what would you tell them?

The main thing is to just book yourself in to do it, and worry about whether you’re funny enough later. It gives you a deadline, and pressure to actually write and do it.

What was it like winning the 7 Days Comedy Apprentice and the Raw Comedy Quest?

It was a pretty big encouragement for sure! I feel pretty lucky with how things have turned out. The 7 Days Competition was the first time I’d ever done live comedy apart from my Year 11 speech that I thought was funny at the time. It fuelled me into trying standup for the first time. I think awards are great to keep your spirits up, but they’re not everything. Oh good, the girl who won awards has said not to worry about awards! But seriously, they aren’t necessary for success.

Who is your biggest inspiration in life?

Probably my parents as lame as that sounds. They’ve always been super encouraging. Well, mostly. I told my dad I was trying stand up comedy and he tried to convince me to join an improv team instead for about 30 minutes. Then after he saw my first gig, it was all pretty supportive. In terms of stand up comedy heroes, I love Maria Bamford and Tig Notaro. They’re my favourite comics for sure.

What is your proudest moment in your career so far?

It changes all the time. That’s the thing with comedy, it’s so instantly rewarding. Probably landing my job at the Hauraki Breakfast. It’s not strictly comedy related, but working with Matt Heath and Jeremy Wells is super awesome. I also loved performing at the Billy T Applicants showcase. I didn’t get nominated but that was probably the best gig I’ve ever done.

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What are you looking forward to about this year’s NZ Comedy Festival?

I’m mostly looking forward to the overall vibe of festival time. Everyone’s so hectic, you get to see heaps of shows and meet so many new people. My show is going to be mainly stand up, with a bit of musical comedy. A real mixed bag I think. I don’t really know yet, it’s definitely nowhere near finished. I’m just excited to do my own show.

Follow Melanie on Tumblr here: http://www.meladoodle.com/

Follow her on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/meladoodle

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