By Byrne Harrison
Show: Shirley Gnome: Real Mature
Photo credit: Rufio Van Hoover
Shirley Gnome is a self-styled musical comedian and songwriter. Armed with only a guitar and a sassmouth, this chanteuse provocatrice belts out original tunes about the embarrassing, profound, and hilarious adventures that happen when bodies collide. Her music, while smothered in explicit language and provocative insights, is sung with the voice of "an angel dry-humping a cloud." Sometimes tongue-in-cheek, othertimes insightful and honest, Shirley weaves a live show that has people in hysterics - often in spite of themselves.
She won The People Champ of Comedy Competition in 2012, taking home $20,000. She continued her success with critically acclaimed shows at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the St. Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival. She has graced the stages of several burlesque festivals, earning herself a place as the musical cousin of the international burlesque family. She was nominated last year for a Canadian Comedy Award for Best Variety Act. She has recorded three albums, her most recent being The Lady of the Night released on Feb 8th, 2015.
Tell me a little about Shirley Gnome: Real Mature.
My show is a conflagration of different songs spanning the last 5 years of my work. It weaves a tapestry full of tell-tale truths, complete with the stains of lessons lived and frayed edges from years of use.
What inspired you to create it?
I am mostly inspired by my close friends. We open up to each other honestly about what it is like to traverse the tricky trails of sex and love, and I take notes. Sometimes I'm just sitting on the bus and the song pops fully formed in my head.
Who else is helping you bring the show to FRIGID?
I've been helped by my fellow artist Gillian English, as she has been to the festival many times and has been a great source of advice. Also critical to my success is the generosity of the couchsurfing.org community, through which I have found a host who will let me stay in her living room for the duration of the festival - for free! Now that's patronage. I also have a wonderful group of friends and a supportive family who have helped to get this show on it's feet. The community of artists back in Vancouver have also been a great source of inspiration.
Who would be your dream audience for this show?
I suppose anyone who would take satisfaction from seeing it. Whether that's because they loved it and were inspired by it, or in that it helped them define what they don't like/don't want to see - or any strong reaction - I'd be pleased with that. If Tenacious D happened to be there I would probably shit my pants and die from joy.
As a theatre artist, who are your biggest influences?
Storytellers. Their particular brand of theatre completely moves me, shows me the possibilities in my own musical storytelling, and inspires me to be as honest and real as I can be.
What shows are you planning to see at FRIGID?
Get Around Me! and Sam Mullins' new show. I'd like to go and support a lot of my fellow Canadian artists. I think I'll know more when I get there.
What is next for you in 2015?
I'll be doing a bunch of theatre festivals in Canada, including UnoFest (Victoria), The St. Ambroise/Montreal Fringe, WinnipegFringe, and Edmonton Fringe. I may try get to Australia this fall as well. I will also probably nap, and poop, and take great joy in falling down laughing.
Favorite theatre professional? Stuart Bowden - Australia.
Current show you would love to be involved with? Any big burlesque production in New York City!
Your dream show to be involved with? A giant musical comedy festival in the summer.
Who would you most like to have a chance to work with? Talented people.
Your best theatre experience? Playing on the Vogue Theatre stage last year as a part of the Vancouver Int'l Burlesque Festival. I have never played for that many people before (1,100), it was an absolute thrill.
Your worst theatre experience? I'm five years old. The girl in front of me was supposed to dance over and pick up her item of clothing, in a Mary Poppins ballet recital. She took mine. I got onstage, froze, and took her piece of clothing. That fucking bitch. I will never forgive her.
Person you’d most like to thank for getting you where you are today? My parents - they gave me their Air Miles points! Also unconditional love and support. But also Air Miles points!
For more about "Shirley Gnome: Real Mature" visit the FRIGID New York website.