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Q&A: Tanya Losanno

With the Canberra Comedy Festival kicking off next weekend, I sat down with comedian Tanya Losanno to get her view on the industry. We had a chat about how she got into comedy, her views on equality in the industry, and any advice she may have to aspiring comedians.
Dean: When did you first get into comedy?
Tanya: I was living in London in 1996 and I took a gap year from the University of Canberra. I did a course over there in writing and stand up. I then came back to Canberra for a couple of years and did another course in Melbourne. My teacher at the time said enough with the courses, you need to get on stage and start doing stuff. I then did my first gig. I can’t remember much about it and I was so terrified and nervous, but I came off knowing that I loved it. From there I started doing the circuit in Melbourne.
Dean: Do you find there are any struggles for females within the comedy industry?

Tanya Losanno
Credit: Tanya Losanno

Tanya: It has been hard in the past, but I think more and more women are finding their feet. Most women I know are brilliant story tellers and make great comedians but there have been less in the industry. It is building and there are some amazing people out there doing some fantastic things and it’s just a matter of building on that momentum I think. Soon we’ll see television panel shows that have equal representation.
One of the hardest things with stand up is that on a lot of bills they will only put one woman and the rest guys. I just did a gig in Hobart where there were three women and one bloke on and that’s very rare. It wasn’t even a thing where the guy running it said “we’ve got woman after woman after woman” it was just that they happened to be women. Nobody flinched, nobody walked away going that was a bit strange, everyone had a great night and laughed and it was just normal.
Dean: Do you think crowds are less likely to come if they see more women on the bill? Is that the stigma?
Tanya: It may have been in the past but now most women work and go out just as much as men and I think when it comes to running a club you’ll probably find that women are just as representative as men.
It’s probably not the case as much anymore but I certainly think that’s how it started. The idea that comedy was just for men and men would go to clubs after work while the wives were at home with the kids and stuff. Life isn’t like that anymore so it’s changed a bit. Women go out just as much and drink and have fun with their friends and love to see comedy so I certainly think that’s changing how things are starting to happen. There is still a way to go but I think it’s getting there.
Dean: Did the stigma ever deter you?
Tanya: I did a gig once where I was the only woman on the bill and there was a certain group of people in the audience yelling out some pretty obscene things. At that point I thought maybe this isn’t for me. You just have to keep going and you have to have thick skin. You have to know not everyone’s going to laugh and you’re going to have bad reviews but you just have to keep going.
Dean: Any advice for up and coming comedians?
Tanya: Just get up and do it. Don’t hesitate if you think you have a story to tell. Don’t worry if it’s a bad gig. Chances are your first one won’t be brilliant. Some people just want to do it once and tick it off their bucket list but if you love it keep going.

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