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Interview with Nelly Thomas

Nelly Thomas talks about her comedy and speaking and how she engages, entertains and teaches to audiences of all types and ages. Read on below.

What types of topics do you generally cover?

I cover almost any topic, but I specialise in health and lifestyle issues, social commentary (on current events) and women’s issues. Prior to becoming a comedian I worked in the social welfare and educations sectors so I tend to get asked to do a lot of work in those areas. My most requested topics are probably work-life balance and “women’s issues”.


Do you have a favorite memory from your career as a performer?

My journey into comedy was unusual. I sort of fell into it when I was 28 and “strongly encouraged” (read, harassed) into entering a national comedy competition. I won the heat… then the semi-final … then the state final … then the national final in front of an audience of 1,200 people, live on television! As I was accepting the award and making a speech, I was so overwhelmed that I started crying and I remember my lovely partner Lachlan jumping up in the crowd, waiving and yelling, “I’m here, darl!”. My most cherished career moment, among many.


How do your speaking engagements and comedy routines differ?

The short answer is that my comedy routines are usually less polite! In comedy clubs you have total freedom to say whatever you think, in whatever way – including sharp language. That is the genre, the audience know that when they walk in. In my speaking engagements, I never swear and I’m also mindful that I need to stick to relevant topics. In comedy clubs I talk about anything, in speaking engagements I make sure the material is relevant, interesting and appropriate to the particular audience.


What are your thoughts on work-life balance?

It’s a myth created by the self-help industry! But, we have to try to get it. I literally don’t know anyone who has managed to perfectly achieve a balance between work, family, health, self and life, but we have to strive to do it. One thing I know for sure is that preaching to people and offering unrealistic plans for work-life balance achieve nothing but guilt and anxiety. However, it’s good to be reminded to make it a priority and why it’s so important for your health, your family’s health and your work. Women, in particular, need to hear this.


Why should event planners choose you for their next event?

I’m professional, experienced, easy to deal with, reliable and I do not take on work that I am not 100% sure I’m right for. My aim is to make the event great so I choose my gigs wisely, prepare thoroughly and make sure we all have a good time, myself included.

I think my greatest strength is that I don’t just jump up on stage events and do jokes, nor do I get up and give a lecture – rather, I deliver information in a funny and entertaining way. I offer the audience a laugh, some relief (ahhh, we do that too!) and important information to think about.

I am also a very experienced and competent MC and I make sure events run to time, that they keep moving, that questions are fairly distributed and that the atmosphere remains light and convivial, even when the topic is dry or heavy (I have many years experience MCing events on very difficult topics such as domestic violence and the like). A good MC takes control so everyone else can relax, and a good key-note speaker entertains as they impart knowledge. I do both.

Finally, I can work a range of audiences. I have done gigs in comedy clubs, rough pubs, in schools, for unions, for big business, for lawyers and just about any other group you can imagine. Most recently I did a gig for the Women’s Barristers Association and they said:

“Nelly Thomas is the gold standard of comedy.  This year the Women Barristers Association celebrated its 20th anniversary.  We needed a speaker who was funny enough, and brave enough, to entertain a room full of politicians, judges, magistrates and barristers.  We wanted someone who would have the room in stitches while tackling the big issues. Nelly was 10/10 on each count.  She was professional, well researched and a pleasure to work with.  We are so grateful to her for making our night a success.”

If I can make some judges and politicians laugh, I’m confident I can make anyone laugh!


Read more about Nelly Thomas here!

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