“I’ve never done stand up- I find that terrifying”.
Those aren’t the exact words you’d expect to hear from comedian Isabel Angus, who’s taking to the stage at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival this year in her show Bliss. The Melbourne performer combines an astute eye for social trends with high energy physical comedy to give audiences a great time.
The show carefully dissects Instagram famous personalities who drop faux motivational one liners against scenic backdrops like a second language.
Angus tackles the currently circulating “fitspo” trend, which markets wellness and health in a neatly packaged brand deal. Playing a character named Penny Parsons, a “zeitgeist of fitness”, she takes a look at what lies behind the filtered photos and snappy hashtags.
“She’s an amalgamation of ‘fitspiration’ quotes and no excuses with a hardline approach. She hasn’t quite got the following but firmly believes in her brand of wellness, which is quite brutal”, Angus explains.
No stranger to bizarre social trends, Angus says that her characters are often a way of making sense of the indescribable. Her performance doesn’t shy away from sensitive issues while still maintaining an acute awareness of social constructs.
There’s a constant energy and intensity to her delivery, so it’s little surprise when she reveals that she’s been gunning for the chance to perform since high school.
“As a kid, I used to make little sketch videos with my cousins when I was young. I was 16- so really not that young,” she laughs. “When other 16 year olds were going to parties and drinking I was filming little sketches”.
The transition from turning childhood sketches to satirical hot takes came naturally to Angus, in what she describes as a “hybrid of theatre and character stand up”. She’s not afraid to lay herself bare, and though her character Penny is a product of social media, there’s parts of her that resonate with all of us.
Angus’ character is neurotic, over compensating, and about one Instagram comment away from a mid-life crisis in her 20’s. Yet she’s relatable and cleverly endearing; a balancing act that Angus masters.
Angus blurs the line between subtle and overt self deprecation- something that’s apparent in conversation.
Speaking of her show, she says “There’s something for everyone. There’s jokes obviously, and the audience doesn’t have to do exercise by the way, so just flag that”.