On the Couch with Alice Tovey

Alice Tovey AAR On the CouchWho is Alice Tovey?
A part-time woman and full-time purveyor of fine grot. I’m a comedian, writer, cabaret artist and horror filmmaker. You might recognise me from my words in TV shows on ABC, my opinion columns in the newspaper, on stage doing jokes, or from poorly merging into traffic in the Sydney CBD.

I’ve had the pleasure of touring the country with my cabaret hours for the better part of a decade (ignoring that part where I couldn’t tour. Oh, that wasn’t a COVID thing. I was just banned from the Opera House for making the cast of Madame Butterfly bare knuckle box in the company carpark. Word travels fast in this town.)

If you’ve seen me before, you would remember me as an ocker Dame Shirley Bassey. I used to think of my stage persona as capital ‘d’ Drag. I was putting on the personality of a confident woman. Now, while I still carry that woman with me, I’ve embraced the gentle goblin that I am and allowed myself to soften into more authentic story telling. And I’m very excited to introduce that goblin person to new audiences.

What would you do differently from what you do now?
Be one of the Muppets. And no, I’m not saying I want to puppeteer a Muppet. Make me one of the Muppets. And do it now.

Who inspires you and why?
Apart from my mother, my partner and the legendary cast of the Muppets, at the moment I’m drawing a lot of inspiration from the woman of horror. Linda Blair, Ellen Burstyn, Shelley Duvall. These are the woman who survived auteur filmmakers and defined a genre. They deserve all of the credit for the success of these classic horror movies.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
I’m a comedian, so of course my ego is the size of the MCG. But even my arrogant ass knows that it will take more than ART to build a peaceful planet. The world is overwhelming, particularly now. But all I think we can do is listen openly, empathize radically, amplify marginalized people, and give what you can. And get mad. We should get mad and protest and rattle the cage.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Growing up, I used to spend my summers down at Port Arlington in Victoria. I can still taste the potato cakes now. I didn’t know how to do my hair back then. I looked like Weird Al for years, and loved it.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
If you’re coming to visit me in my new home of Sydney, I’m taking you to Burwood Chinatown. It was introduced to me by my mate Alexi and I’m obsessed. Get the glutinous rice cube on a stick, it will blow your mind.

What are you currently reading?
James Colley’s The Next Big Thing. A hilarious new novel from one of the best comedy writers in Australia.

What are you currently listening to?
The Stop Making Sense live album. David Byrne’s big vocals and bigger suit have altered the chemistry of my brain irreversibly.

Happiness is?
Eating and drinking too much in your inside clothes with the people you love the most.

What does the future hold for you?
Performing my show, Not Like the Other Ghouls, at the Adelaide Fringe, marrying the love of my life, writing more words for the telly, and pitching my silly little ideas to anyone that will listen.

Alice will present her show Not Like the Other Ghouls at the Dom Polski Centre, Adelaide: 19 February – 3 March, as part of the 2024 Adelaide Fringe. For more information, visit: www.adelaidefringe.com.au for details.

Image: Alice Tovey (supplied)