For a formidable procrastinator, Cristina Lark has an impressive resume as a comedian, entrepreneur and Shakespearean actress.
She took some time out from trawling the web for cat memes and re-arranging her sock draw to answer some questions about the return season of hilarious one-woman show at the Adelaide Fringe, 'Caution - Deadline Ahead (A Comedy About Procrastination)'.
You have vast and diverse stage experience across various genres. How does has this influenced your comedic style?
I don't really do stand-up. There is an element of storytelling in my current show, but they are more like funny stories, not necessarily classic jokes. I tried to limit these moments as much as I could and think of a theatrical way of talking about something. So I have a dialogue with two sock puppets (my shoulder devil and shoulder angel), an infomercial, a monologue dressed as a historical character (who was also played by Gerard Butler in a movie), a scene in an imaginary office... Even the parts when it's just me talking about myself, I chose to create some sort of scene, and show rather than tell.
What are some of the most memorable moments in your performing career?
A dream come true was to do Shakespeare in London. I was in a production of 'Macbeth', as one of the witches. But as soon as the director met me (all actors had been offered the job by the producer), she started bullying me. The first thing she said at the first rehearsal was "I'm picturing Cristina's character to be retarded, it goes with her". She cut all my lines and gave it to the other two actors, saying they were "too important to be said by me". In the end, with no lines, I chose to comply with the director's "retarded" request by playing my witch like a drooling mad woman, almost animal-like. When the reviews said we had dedicated so much space to describe how eerie and endearing the witch was, the other two actors adapted their characters to be a bit more like mine. I learned with that experience that even when some people attempt to undermine you, you can still go higher and achieve a good outcome.
Your show is about procrastination. Did you procrastinate before writing your answers to these questions?
I still can't believe I managed to answer them in time.
What are some of your favourite methods of procrastination?
There's the classic 'leave it till the last moment while self-loathing then pull a panic all-nighter to do it', it never fails (it's actually what I used to reply to these questions). But one of my favourites is definitely 'keep myself busy with unrelated, unimportant tasks that look important'. Cleaning your whole kitchen is for amateurs: A true procrastination pro will do "work-y stuff", like sorting their 389 unread emails, or organising their external hard drive, or all the 4,000 photos on their phone. Of course none of this will actually be done, because something else will pop up. Before I started my business, I decided I needed to have a website. So I watched hours of tutorials on how to use the software to create a website. I coach people on public speaking, nothing to do with web, coding or IT. But I spent weeks on a website-creating-tutorial spiral. I still don't have a presentable website.
Who are some of your biggest comedy influences?
I love the humour of 'South Park', 'The Simpsons' (of the '90s), 'Futurama', 'Bojack Horseman', 'Rick & Morty' (Jesus, so far I've just named cartoons, I'm that mature), and also Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers, Trevor Noah. I watched every episode of 'Seinfeld', and I loved Elaine. Julia Louis-Dreyfus was so different than the other female characters portrayed on TV in the '90s. Then came 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia', and Kaitlin Olson. I don't have icons, if I find something funny in a less mainstream source, I give it the same importance as the other references, like the YouTube show 'Honest Trailers', or the website the-editing-room.com with "abridged scripts for movies". But I guess it's not so much that these references influenced me, I doubt you can recognise any of it in my work and say "omg, that's so Cartman!", but they're just my type of humour: Acid, satirical, silly and witty at the same time, and a bit darker.
'Caution - Deadline Ahead' plays The A Club Adelaide from 27 February-16 March as part of Adelaide Fringe.