Just for laughs – don’t hold back!

Scottish-born Perth comedian Gill Cordiner believes more older Aussies, particularly women, should step up to the microphone and have a go at stand-up comedy.

While plenty of youngsters are getting involved in Perth’s blossoming comedy scene, Gill says older people with their wealth of experience have the real-life stories that are grist to the mill for comedians.

Born in Glasgow and growing up in New Lanark, where she lived until her late 30s, she met her Perth, Australia-born husband when they were both working in Italy, and returned to his hometown where they started a family.

Gill has lived in Perth for the last 17 years and while originally she only came to take a peek she has never left.

“I never plan anything; my whole life has organically evolved,” she says.

Gill got involved in stand-up comedy nearly four years ago when somebody she knew was doing an open mike performance and asked her to come and watch.

“I remember at that moment thinking ‘I’m much funnier than she is, I should be doing that not you’, you know the arrogance you have, ‘I can do that’ when you are looking at the Picasso in the art gallery.

“I thought ‘I don’t want to watch you. I want to do that to prove my point to myself and I told her I’d like to give it a go and she arranged it.’”

Gill had three days to create her five-minute segment which she practised over and over.

“I’d never been to see stand-up live and I had no idea really.

“I hadn’t read any books, so I just naïvely wrote what I thought was comedy, and then on the Wednesday I went and performed.

“I was nervous, but I really enjoyed it and I didn’t do badly at all, it was well received.

“I didn’t tell anyone I was going to do it because I thought if it was totally crap, I could just slip away and nobody would ever know.

“My opening line on that first set was ‘If you want to lose some weight do stand-up up comedy because I’ve been crapping myself all day’ and that was my first opening joke and everybody laughed.

“But it was true, I did the toilet like eight times on that day and I realised that just by saying what was true and wording it in a funny way you could deliver a line.”

Gill is 56 now, she first took to the stage about four years ago.

“As I said, I never really planned much in my life, I just instinctively decide if I want to give something a go and I truly believe that you should never over-analyse the impulse to try something unless it’s methamphetamine or skydiving naked.

“If you get a notion to do something then you should give it a go because you can talk yourself out of anything.

“If I’d sat down with my husband and my kids and said I was going to do it, I don’t know if they would have said, ‘yeah Mum go try it’ or they would have come and that would have been weird, so I think sometimes you just need to instinctively give things a go.

“I believe society will always put restrictions on what you should do, when you should do it and what type of person you should be to do something. I think if I’d listened to that I’d never have done half the things I have.”

Gill says older people shouldn’t hold back.

In the arts and particularly in comedy older people and women in particular are under-represented.

“I speak for my own age group and think my age group isn’t represented very well in the arts at all, especially in comedy, not many older people do it and it’s a difficult world because it is very youth driven.

“It’s okay being an older comedian if you’ve been doing it for 20 years you’re allowed to do that, you’re the elderly statesman and you’ve graduated into that position.

“But when you start from an older position, I think it’s a lot less accepted and embraced, I think people look at you as if to say ‘why are you doing this?’

“It’s bigotry to older people. Somehow we’re at a point in life where we are supposed to slink away and buy a caravan. I don’t subscribe to that at all, but I do think we live in a very ageist society that has an awful lot of negative things to say about anybody older.

“It’s as if ageing was somehow a chosen occupation, as if ageing somehow precludes your brain activity.

“I’m sharper than most people I meet and that’s nothing to do with age it’s just to do with being as sharp as a tack.”

Being a woman also doesn’t help in what’s a male-oriented business.

“The conversations amongst men are different than they are amongst women, so sometimes you can feel quite isolated. You are rarely in a line-up where there are more than one or two women, although some promoters try really hard to avoid that.”

Gill performs weekly across multiple venues with gigs three or four times a week including all the main clubs – The Comedy Lounge, Oasis in the Brisbane Hotel, Experimental Comedy Club on a Tuesday, Fremantle Comedy Factory and lots of small rooms where you can see comedy.

She also performed 100 gigs at Fringe World Festival last year.

Gill says people interested in seeing her should be able to find her on social media.

“I’d really encourage anyone who fancies it to give it a go because it is a fun thing to do, it’s an empowering thing and it would be great to have some more women on the scene.

“It’s never too late in life to try something and actually be successful.”

Gill says she won a competition from 50 or 60 people at the Comedy Lounge, run over four or five heats, where she would have been the oldest competitor by something like 20 years.

“I beat all these young hopefuls and it just goes to show that age can be a benefit to you.”