On the Couch with Judith Lanigan

Judith Lanigan Arts Review On the CouchWho is Judith Lanigan?
A stunt hula hoopist, an author, the daughter of a journalist and a detective, just returned from a literary quest to find the secret of happiness in Clownland.

What would you do differently to what you do now?  
I’d have three of me. Then I might be able to fulfil ALL my ideas. I could delegate but still get to do things myself. I’d send one of me off to ride a horse in a circus show, and one of me could keep telling that voice ‘doubt’, that likes to hold up the creative process. to be quiet.

Who inspires you and why?
The clowns I have just talked to on my quest into Clownland, from the classic, to the dark post-modern, the clown doctors and the naughty girls over on the burlesque side of things – they had some amazing things to say about happiness. It was a life changer for me.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
As ‘Struthie’ – a comedy rodeo clown I spoke to in Clownland – suggests; I’d ask everyone to be honest in every conversation that they have with themselves in their own head. Lying causes lots of unhappiness for everyone. Lying to yourself is the worst. And can animal liberationists please stop picking on circus, and start looking at the real animal abuse problem – the way our food sources are treated.

Favourite holiday destination and why? 
What is a holiday? I have travelled a lot for my performance work, so I’ve been to some crazy places, but I wouldn’t know how to have a holiday. I just work but luckily most of the time its really really fun.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
Surfing. But usually we see each other at festivals in all sorts of odd places.

What are you currently reading?
Ebooks. You can have hundreds of books in your handbag. I am a voracious reader. At the moment it is Dick Francis, a champion steeplechase jockey turned crime novelist. I’m studying up on racing for my next fiction novel set in 1942. But I deeply love our Australian authors like Mark Dapin, Toni Jordan, Debra Adelaide, Linda Javin. They are amazing!

What are you currently listening to?
I’m an aquarian, apparently we dance to the beat of a drum that hasn’t been invented yet.

Happiness is?
Something that I’ve just talked about with a lot of extraordinary people employed in studying the stupid, the ridiculous, the clumsy and deluded, both beautiful and ugly, to hold up a mirror up so that we can laugh at ourselves. One of the conclusions Clownland comes to is that happiness comes from knowing yourself, not just the comfortable things, but also the uncomfortable things, and then practising a mindful change of those things. But as Clown teacher Angela de Castro says; happiness is something we think we need things to have. Joy is different. Joy is within us. I also find that Hula Hoop = Happy.

What does the future hold for you?
Next I step back into 1942, to a WW2 spy crime involving a eccentric circus family touring by private train and traveling with them, incognito, is the Melbourne Cup favourite. I’m looking forward to that. There is also some Hollywood interest in The Great Clown Kidnap of 1572 as a feature film story; that’s exciting. And more hula hooping shows. I’ve come up with a couple of new hula hoop stunts, and I’m looking forward to making people laugh with those.

Judith’s latest book, Clownland will be available from 1 July 2016 from any good bookshop or the usual online platforms. For more information, visit: www.judithlanigan.com.au for details.

Image: Judith Lanigan

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