On the Couch with Sashi Perera

MICF-EndingsWho is Sashi Perera?
I’m a comedian, writer and recovering refugee lawyer. I live in Melbourne with my husband and our dysfunctional cat who we adopted during COVID. I love doing stand-up comedy because it’s all about sharing stories, laughing about the weird ways that we choose to live our lives, and connecting with people.

What would you do differently from what you do now?
I want to travel a lot more. I would love to be able to catch up more regularly with friends and family overseas, because catching up online just isn’t the same.

Who inspires you and why?
I don’t just love doing stand up – I also love watching other artists do their thing. Victoria’s creative community is wildly talented and mildly unhinged, and I feel so lucky to now be a part of it. Every person I have met along the way has inspired me to look at life a little differently, create more interesting stories, and write better comedy.

Some comedians that shaped my beginnings were the folks involved in incubator shows Ethnic City and Breast of the Fest. They created safe spaces to do my type of comedy, inspired me to create my own voice, and helped me grow in confidence.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
I think it’s easy to get overwhelmed because there are so many things that need to change. So I reckon the best way to make a difference is to pick up a baton, run with it as far as you can, and then trust that someone else will pick it up and run along with it.

I am trying to focus on incremental gains within my community. You may not be able to save the world but you can help a friend. I also didn’t realise that just getting on stage could break down some barriers and make people like me feel seen. I want to make people laugh about the brilliant oddities of the world we all share.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Colombo, Sri Lanka. It was my first home and a place I love returning to, over and over again. My childhood memories start rushing back as soon as I set foot off the plane. I love the feeling, smells and tastes of the place that will always be home.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
Melbourne is incredible. It’s not like Sydney where you can just take a friend down to the Harbour and say ‘look at this beautiful thing’. Melbourne is unique because it’s such a vibe and there’s no single attraction that could ever sum it up. Every neighbourhood has its own thing going on. It’s like, what do you fancy? Art, music, theatre, sport, food, bars, comedy … we have the best of everything, so yeah, I’d struggle to take them to just one place.

What are you currently reading?
I just finished Cloud Cuckoo Land. I was fascinated by the interconnected stories and contrasting time periods. I was also very, very jealous that I could not write anything like that even if I lived for 10 lifetimes. No more words, just applause, Anthony Doerr.

What are you currently listening to?
I read a book called Crying in H Mart by a Korean-American writer that my sister-in-law recommended. It was about losing a parent to cancer over a very quick period of time – something I went through last year. Turns out the writer, Michelle Zauner, is in a band called Japanese breakfast! They are currently at the top of my playlist.

Happiness is?
Choosing to find things to laugh about every day.

What does the future hold for you?
More comedy, more connecting with audiences in Australia and, hopefully, around the world. I’d also really like to write a book in the more distant future. It has been a dream of mine for a long time. I acknowledge it would never be as good as Cloud Cuckoo Land, but I’d give it a really good crack.

Sashi presents her show, Endings, at the Chinese Museum, as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, until 9 April 2023. For more information, visit: www.comedyfestival.com.au for details.

Image: Sashi Perera (supplied)

Update: Sashi presents two extra shows of Endings at Trades Hall (Solidarity Hall) on Thursday 21 & Friday 22 April 2023.