On the Couch with Tara Leigh Dowler / Cousin Tara

Tara-Leigh-Dowler-AAR-On-the-CouchWho is Tara Leigh Dowler / Cousin Tara?
When I was 18, I had a producer tell me I needed a ‘stage name’; a one-word name, preferably. Think of Cher, Madonna or Adele! I have never found something that suited me. Then, in 2018, I was working with my good friends, Two Little Dickheads on their first show at Melbourne Comedy Festival. TLD (haha we have the same initials) are low-fi, chaotic but familiar in their style of comedy, so they didn’t have a pro tech working the desk, they had their ‘Cousin Tara’. It stuck … a heightened version of Tara Leigh Dowler, the person I operate as in the ‘real world’, and Cousin Tara, my own personal parody. Cousin Tara is relatable but also a little off-the-wall. She is the hilarious, energetic, manic expression of Tara. A bit ‘extra’, you know?

What would you do differently from what you do now?
I thought about this recently. I think I would’ve gone into directing or editing for film or TV. Diverting so much of my creative energy these past months into digital content has re-awakened a love of film-making that I had when I was a teenager that sort of petered out once I’d thrown myself into comedy.

Who inspires you and why?
Jude Perl. Mesmerising singer. Incredible songwriter. Brilliant performer. Clara Cupcakes. Seeing her perform for the first time was a religious experience. She is a mad talent. Die Roten Punkte. Their whole gimmick is cabaret, clowning and rock music all rolled into one tasty bratwurst. I love their music and they totally kill it live.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
If I had the power, I would do sooo many things. Probably, though, I would settle all asylum seekers & refugees, redistribute wealth, implement 100% renewable energy and free the nipple!

Favourite holiday destination and why?
All I’ve been thinking about recently is theme parks. So, probably the Gold Coast because I am absolutely into the guilty pleasure of it and really, isn’t the state of Queensland Australia’s guilty pleasure?

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
I had a Minnesotan friend visit a couple of years ago and I think I took them to DonDon, which is a great, cheap, amazing Japanese curry place on Little Lonsdale St in Melbourne. Probably the weird, green snot architecture of RMIT on Swanston Street and of course, The Butterfly Club; every damn time.

What are you currently reading?
Smoke Gets In Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty – an American mortician and Youtuber with a revolutionary perspective on death and the Western mentality around death care. Hilarious, personal but also delightfully well-researched.

What are you currently listening to?
Khruangbin is a daily ritual, and My Dad Wrote a Porno. Yesterday I listened to the soundtrack from Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. My housies put the film on the other night and I remembered how hilarious and catchy the music was.

Happiness is?
A bath that’s not so hot it gives you palpitations, but not too cool that you have to keep draining water and topping up the hot.

What does the future hold for you?
It’s hard to say right now, but as we all carry on hoping for the best, I like to imagine myself experimenting, performing to real-actual-live audiences and expressing all my pent-up public displays of affection.

Tara Leigh Dowler stars as Cousin Tara in Wukkas on the Web on Wednesday 24 June 2020 – 7.00pm. For more information, visit: www.comedyfestival.com.au or YouTube for details.

Image: Cousin Tara (supplied)