Comedian and actor Michele A'Court stars in the return of Kiwi TV drama Go Girls next month and performs a solo show in the NZ International Comedy Festival. She is married to fellow comedian Jeremy Elwood and has a 19-year-old daughter, Holly.
1. So you are pretending to be an actor right now (your description): what are the hardest bits?
That line about pretending to be an actor was a gleeful joke - acting was my first career choice before I was distracted by journalism, then TV presenting, then radio, then stand-up comedy. So I am loving going back to my roots. TV is different from theatre, though, in that you can spend a whole day just playing unhappy scenes - when it's a play, you get to work through a satisfying dramatic arc with each performance. So I'm learning how to shake off my character's emotions on the way home.
2. Do comedians deal better with failure?
I've never thought about it, but maybe. We take a risk with every gag we write and deliver and learn that, when a gag fails, the correct response is to move on to the next one. So dealing with failure is about moving forward and taking the next risk.
3. Why are there so few chicks on 7 Days?
There are fewer women comedians - not just in NZ, but in the world. There are a plethora of young male comedians with facial hair so they're better represented.
4. Is your husband funnier than you are?
We've never considered it a competition. There is a lot of laughing at our place. We're never certain who starts it.
5. What was the hardest thing about raising a daughter on your own?
Not alone - just without her father. She has fabulous grandparents and an awesome stepdad. I have huge respect for solo mothers. For so many of the parenting decisions, you really want someone for backup, and for a sounding-board to reassure you you're on the right track.
6. Does your ex mind being the butt of your jokes?
The ex-husband I have talked about on stage is a fictional character made up out of bits of my actual ex-husbands and some old wool I had lying around. Given that he is fictitious, I think we can assign any attitude we like to him. Let's say he has a fabulous sense of humour and sufficient self-esteem to laugh at his own foibles.
7. Has Holly been put off ever having a public profile?
Kids grow up thinking what the adults in their world do is normal. She says she doesn't find it remarkable that her mother and stepfather and their friends are all on TV. She is a hugely talented dancer and totally comfortable on stage.
8. Are Kiwi women as obstreperous as others claim we are?
Apparently. I can't tell. But I've been told enough times when I've been gigging overseas that, "We don't have women like you here", to think it may be true.
9. What are your regrets as a mother?
None. We've stumbled through the last 20 years with a huge amount of joy.
10. Why the fascination with America?
North America - Canada as well as the States. I am married to a Canadian; my dearest friend lives in Vancouver; my favourite music and food comes from New Orleans; my favourite world is Disneyland; New York makes my knees weak; Las Vegas makes me laugh; San Francisco makes me nostalgic for a place and time I didn't actually experience. I like the North American vastness and volume; its confidence and self-belief. And I like who I am when I'm there.
11. Feminism - what's left to do?
Pay equity; paid parental leave; free, legal and safe abortion and contraception; marriage equality; an end to domestic violence, gender violence and child abuse.
12. Headline your own obituary.
"Comedian, writer and social activist dies peacefully at 91 surrounded by family and friends at jazz and comedy festival."