The secret burial of her beloved childhood cat is a story that makes people cry with laughter every time Jessica Charlotte tells it on stage.
"People just lose it. To begin with I was surprised at the massive reaction, but that's stand-up comedy - the weird and raw stories get the big laughs," Charlotte says.
"I won't talk about menopause or kids because that's stereotypical for female comedians, but dead cats, they're definitely allowed."
Fluffy had been Charlotte's best friend since she was a youngster with a dream of being a stand-up comedian. Her childhood home was filled with comedy. Her Māori mother loved watching Billy T James, while her Scottish father often had Billy Connolly on the television. In the weekends the family would write comedy skits together and practise performing them.
But the comedian dream faded to the background when life took off, children came, and careers grew.
Then, just two years ago, Jessica heard about an open-mic night for stand-up comedy, and she plucked up the courage to give it a go. Her childhood dream took flight, helped by the story of how Fluffy was dead and buried for nearly a year before she found out.
Since then, the 41-year-old was named the wildcard winner at the Raw Quest Comedy Contest in Palmerston North, she's performed around the North Island with the help of comedy producer Ben Caldwell, and she's opened for comedian Cori Gonzalez-Maucer.
Her highlight so far was when one of her favourite comedians, Brendhan Lovegrove, said he enjoyed her set and couldn't wait to see what she was like in a year or two.
"That made me feel fantastic. The whole thing has just been wild. I know I'm a newbie, but my goal is to make it to the top. I also want to keep showcasing regional talent. There's so much talent in the regions, especially here in Taranaki. We have to work harder because we get the same audiences at a lot of our shows, so you've always got to be thinking of fresh material."
"And there's constructive criticism in the regions. People aren't afraid to tell you what they think."
Charlotte says the comedic talent in Taranaki is blossoming, largely thanks to that monthly open-mic night, House of Laughs, that gave her a shot on the stand-up stage. The open- mic nights even sparked a Taranaki Tour, and Charlotte and fellow local comedians Curtis Lockley, Hamish Kerr and Evan Davies taking their stand-up around the mountain, including a stop in Stratford at Colonel Malones for one show.
The next show on the Taranaki Tour is at the Waitara T&C Club this month and Charlotte will try out some new pieces she's been working on.
"I might even tell them about Fluffy too. She was my best friend after all."
What: Taranaki Tour - Funnies in Waitara. Taranaki comedians are Jessica Charlotte, Curtis Lockley and Hamish Kerr, with special guest Kajun Campbell Brooking from Whanganui.
When: Friday, June 25, 7.30pm
Where: Waitara T&C Club.
More: Tickets - $20. Available from the Waitara T&C Club Facebook page or bar. Door sales available.