Australia’s favourite Greek goddess, Effie, is usually one step ahead of the game.
But Effie – like many Greek legends before her; the Trojans, Oedipus and Icarus – can also be left completely blindsided. . . And 2020 was one of those rare occasions.
“I’ve got unusually developed senses so I can usually see things before they happen,” Effie (played by actress and comedian Mary Coustas) explains over the phone. “It’s a bit John Edwards, but I can get a vibe. I can usually tell what people are going to tell me before they tell me, so I should have seen COVID coming. But I didn’t and I couldn’t believe it. COVID bitch-slapped us all.”
“I was on stage at the Brisbane Comedy Festival when the announcement came through that the following day all my shows were cancelled. I finished that show at the Powerhouse and caught a flight down south so to speak and locked it right down.”
The ever-social Effie, who is excited to be returning to the Brisbane Comedy Festival more than a year on with ‘Hello Good Thanks – Better Out Than In’ (among a list of other dates in VIC and NSW), spent quarantine with her daughter Aphrodite (who, she reminds, was conceived through immaculate conception) and her husband, Shane Bradley Cooper. Being recently married, Effie admits there were plenty of “horizontal benefits” to lockdown and she relished in having a break from her mother-in law Narelle and her own mother. “[Shane’s] mother is a tragedy. It’s ugly what she’s done to herself. Not only physically, but she’s a fan of the chardonnay – so she’s messy on top of that. . . And no offence to my own mother, but is it bad that I missed my manicurist more?”
However, the former hairdresser points out that lockdown was a struggle. Juggling newly married life, home schooling and a lack of social life took its toll on the star. “I’m a social beast. Like a lot of ethnics, the sport of choice is socialising. It was hard, it started to do my head in.”
“Lockdown put a microscope on everything. My moods were swinging like a pendulum, I didn’t know what was up. Shane didn’t know what was wrong with me. I thought maybe I was going through menopause, but I was thinking I’m too young, but I didn’t know. I realised I was struggling upstairs; I was unaccustomed to the isolation, and I was focusing on all the wrong things.”
“I had to give myself a very firm tough love talking to, and I saw things were spiralling and I just thought, I’m not going to wreck the stuff I have waited my whole life for.”
Like the playwrights of Greek tragedies, Effie turned her misfortune into art and discusses the many hurdles of the last year in her hilarious show, ‘Better Out Than In’.
“I’m not common, but I am part of the common man and woman’s experience. I suppose in many ways people see me as the comedic filter of all the pain in their life, I say it out loud and proud, I took us out of the COVID closet comically. I scrubbed us in the bottom of the shower with some fun around it, I detoxified that very toxic experience, so all I would hope for in my audience would be that they come and laugh their heads off for an hour – that’s compulsory and good for immunity, it’s an ab work-out and it’s good for the spirit. . . And when they walk away and those issues come up in their life, I hope that they are going to remember the fun I put around that stuff.”
“They don’t call me a legend for nothing. I’m the gift that keeps on giving.”
Effie Tour Dates
17-18 July – Brisbane Powerhouse (Brisbane Comedy Festival) 23 July – Sydney Greek Festival 24 July – Ryde Eastwood Leagues Club (NSW) 6 August – Central Coast Leagues Club (NSW) 28 August – St Mary's Band Club (NSW) 17 September – Capital Theatre (VIC) 18 September – Yarraville Live (VIC) 30 September – Bunjil Place (VIC) 29 October – Revesby Worker's Club (NSW) 12 November – IPAC Theatre (Wollongong)