Interview: Sarah Harpur on the Dead Dads Club

Sarah Harpur has a show in the 2017 New Zealand International Comedy Festival called Dead Dads Club which you can get tickets to here: https://www.comedyfestival.co.nz/find-a-show/dead-dads-club/ As someone who is a member of the Dead Dads Club this is one of the shows I am most looking forward to this year.

Who are you and how did you get started in comedy?

I’m Sarah Harpur and I’m a failed actor. I studied performing arts and when I got into the real world I was blown away by how little work was actually out there and the stuff that I was auditioning for was super lame commercials.  And I’m not good looking enough to play a ‘hot chick’ and my face isn’t interesting enough to play ‘character’ roles. Plus I was probably shit. So I went to film school, because I’ve always loved writing and I realised that all the people who were making the kind of stuff I wanted to make (like Kath and Kim, 30 Rock etc) all started their career in stand up comedy or improv.  So I copied them and started to do pretty well.

What inspired your Comedy Fest show?

My dad died when I was fifteen, and my cousin’s dad died that same year, and we got sick of people feeling sorry for us so we made a club about it.  Years later, I started doing bits about it as part of my comedy act, and it always got a really strong reaction so I decided I either needed to go hard, or drop it all together.  I was actually ready to retire the material when I was awarded a Creative Comedy Project Grant from the NZ Comedy Trust to turn it into a full length show.  I was excited and annoyed at the same time.

Why should people go and see your Comedy Fest show?

It’s going to be something different.  It’s a really strong concept. I’ve been working super hard on it.  It’s definitely the most work I’ve ever put into a show. I’m really proud of what I’m creating.
Programme Image please- Sarah Harpur- Dead Dads Club
Comedian Sarah Harpur. Photo credit: Stephen A’Court. COPYRIGHT ©Stephen A’Court

If you could describe your fest show in 3 words what would they be?

Irreverent, Ridiculous, Cathartic

What’s your favourite part about the NZ Comedy Fest?

Getting to see the culmination of everyones’ work over the past year.

Why do you think comedy is important?

I don’t think comedy is important. Healthcare and education and housing issues are important.  I think comedy is incredibly unimportant, which is why it’s such a privilege to do it. I take comedy really seriously, but I’m under no illusion that it’s a noble profession.  It’s the most ridiculous career.  But I’m a ridiculous person.

What advice would you give to someone who has lost a parent?

Don’t let anyone tell you how you should grieve.

Aside from your own, what are three Comedy Fest shows people should go and see?

All the ladies, they are freaking killing it.  But I’m particularly excited about:
Molly Sokhom, she’s in incredible performer and her story about being Cambodian American and discovering a whole new family sounds intriguing: https://www.comedyfestival.co.nz/find-a-show/sokhom-syndrome/
Angella Dravid, she’s so brilliant and unexpected.  I saw a preview of her show and her story is unbelievable, true and hilarious: https://www.comedyfestival.co.nz/find-a-show/down-the-rabbit-hole/
Li’i Alaimoana, because he’s the least jaded person I know and his enthusiasm and kindness is refreshing and infectious. And he’s really funny for a guy: https://www.comedyfestival.co.nz/find-a-show/minority-rapport/
Dead Dads Club is playing at BATS Theatre in Wellington 3rd – 6th May. You can get tickets here: https://www.comedyfestival.co.nz/find-a-show/dead-dads-club/

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