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March 31, 2011 / Siobhan Argent

What is Soil Erosion? Claudia O’Doherty (comedian) – interview


Published March 2011 by Beat Magazine

Claudia O’Doherty wants to make absolutely sure that people know her new comedy show, What is Soil Erosion?, is not boring. Given that her last show was called Monsters of the Deep 3D and featured smoke machines and lasers, it’s doubtful that will be the case.

But how the hell do you get smoke and lights into a show about soil erosion? “Well, you get a smoke machine and some lasers, you turn them on, and then you start talking about soil erosion,” she laughs. Her infectious energy even transmits down the normally staid telephone line.

O’Doherty’s comedy is quite often a large-scale production, and her latest show is no shrinking violet. She explains that it’s going to be a fairly big production complete with the aforementioned whiz-bang technology, which is set to ramp up what has to be one of the most ridiculously dull subjects in the world.

The whole premise of What is Soil Erosion? is a tad convoluted. But since her last show was about the last surviving member of an undersea-living colony and research facility called Aquaplex, you could actually say she’s taking a step towards simplicity. What is Soil Erosion? is a television show no one wants to produce, sandwiched into a one-hour production extravaganza. It’s essentially a live-stage demo of a TV show that has failed, rather epically, to make it onto any kind of television screen.

There’s hope that we’ll see her in that medium yet; O’Doherty says she wouldn’t mind going into television, as long as there is no soil erosion involved. It’s a question of the right project, and whether a wider audience would understand her love of something that is, to an outsider, perceived to be slightly bonkers comedy. But to her, it’s just what she finds funny, and that makes a lot of sense; comedy is a communal activity, but people also have their particular preferred niches.

O’Doherty has definitely founds hers. Her comedy shows are about trying to “be as stupid as possible” in a comedic setting, and audiences seem to love it. “It’s often hard to pre-empty me; I don’t talk about relationships and [the comedy I do] is a bit odd,” she laughs. She’s been a prominent up-and-comer in recent years, winning Best Newcomer at the 2010 Melbourne International Comedy Festival and Best Comedy at the Melbourne Fringe Festival in 2009.

It’s a touch ironic that O’Doherty found the subject of soil erosion so painfully dull in high school that it pretty much made her comatose in the middle of science classes. Still, it’s the perfect vehicle to showcase what interests O’Doherty most. While researching for Monsters of the Deep was a piece of cake (or fish) for a sea-lover, reading up on soil erosion was not so easy. It seems like she’d be great for sound bites come the next soil-erosion crisis in Australia, because she knows tidbits of information about almost every facet of soil-erosion. And that’s perfect for television, really, in an age where the average television viewer has the attention span of a goldfish.

Claudia O’Doherty is offering value for money; front-row seats to a big production show that doesn’t have to be logical to be entertaining. What is Soil Erosion? is a dull subject invigorated by smoke machines, lasers, and of course, the quirky and innately imaginative appeal of Claudia O’Doherty’s brand of comedy.

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