In 2022, Bea Barbeau-Scurla presented a draft of a show at Sydney Fringe, which ended up selling out.
That show, 'I Don't Know How This Will End' has evolved into 'HOUSE', which Bea is presenting as part of Melbourne International Comedy Festival (MICF) this year. 'HOUSE' is a vulnerable, hilarious account on how cleaning up a hoarder's house helped her reckon with her own childhood, and how letting go of your past can be just as important as acknowledging it.
Bea has written a feature film, opened for the likes of Wil Anderson and Geraldine Hickey, and will now give MICF audiences a story about an upbringing bringing you down, and endear them to reflect on their own lives.
We learn more from Bea ahead of the show.
You originally debuted a draft of this show last year. It got quite the reception! What’s the main way it has evolved to being what audiences will see today?
I performed a draft version of my debut solo show at Sydney Fringe Festival last year and it was awesome, but since then I’ve worked with my dramaturg Charlie Lewin (Best Newcomer 2021) and developed the show with PACT Centre For Emerging Artists. I think the bones of the show are still the same but Charlie and PACT helped me dig deeper and find what the show is really about. I guess audiences can prepare for tighter jokes and more vulnerability, this version feels more like a full experience.
What sorts of themes do you tackle in ‘HOUSE’?
'HOUSE' is about the selling of my childhood home but, it’s mainly about having to sort through the pieces of my childhood in order to help 'make it make sense'. My mum’s a hoarder so she kept every single relic of our lives in that house, and having to go through those items was an extremely difficult experience. The show tackles mental illness, intergenerational trauma and the first-generation migrant experience.
And why were you inspired to create a show around these themes?
I’ve been doing stand-up for the last five years and as I was in the process of cleaning up the family home, I realised that I had a lot to say about it, basically to help me process it. Then I realised a lot of my material revolves around my family, my depression and my childhood so it all really fell into place. Performing it at Sydney Fringe really solidified that it was a show that was relatable to some and even moving to others.
How are you hoping audiences respond to the material – aside of course from being thoroughly entertained.
Admittedly, I always feel bad when people say that they related to the show, I’m sorry you had to deal with that, but also, it feels really good to have people feel seen with my show. I hope everyone relates a little bit, if they don’t, I hope they leave the show with a few fave jokes and feel like they got to know me or people like me a little better.
You’ve just moved to Melbourne! What are you looking forward to most about playing MICF considering it’s now your place of residence?!
Even though I’m THOROUGHLY excited to put on my show, I also love checking out other shows, meeting other comedians, chatting to audience members. The best thing about the late nights this year will be being able to come home to my own bed. Last year I was paying $75 a night for a private room in a hostel in Preston and the 3am Ubers back were always a sobering experience.
As a relatively fresh Melbourne resident, what is your favourite thing about the city so far?
Honestly, it might be boring but the weather. It is LIFE-CHANGING being in a city that isn’t humid as heck. But also, the amount of live comedy is amazing, being able to do gigs, see famous comics, all of that rules.
Your press release reveals that you once were in charge of social media for a funeral home for a year! How did that go for you?
It was actually one of the best jobs I've ever had, once you get past the weirdness and morbidity it's actually pretty cool. It was pretty weird advertising funeral services but I think overall it helped me get more comfortable with death and grief.
You ran a comedy club when you lived in Sydney. Where did the idea for that come from and what was your favourite thing about it?
Rat Klub was a show I started in 2021, I wanted a room that was inclusive, diverse and fun. The Sydney comedy scene (like most comedy scenes) suffered a lot from the lockdowns, so starting up a new show was exciting and thrilling. Since then we've raised over $800 for six different charities, had heavy hitters like Hughesy and Sam Campbell drop in to do spots and have gotten a loyal small fanbase. But I think my favourite thing is being able to see local comedians, rising stars, the people who will be big deals in maybe ten years try out their material and make Rat Klub their home. Local comedian Ryan Sim is now running Rat Klub so it's still going strong!
What’s next for you once you’ve conquered MICF?
I’m excited to continue doing stand-up and I am thinking of running a Melbourne chapter of Rat Klub. I also would like to do more festivals, I had a great time at Adelaide Fringe this year and would love to go next year! I'm looking forward to getting stuck into the Melbourne scene and maybe trying something new. . . Maybe another show for 2024. . . We'll see if this year's run is good first.
Bea Barbeau-Scurla plays Storyville (Melbourne International Comedy Festival) 28 March-9 April.