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Kitty Flanagan to spruik Adelaide Fringe

Arts & Culture

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Comedian Kitty Flanagan, announced this morning as the 2015 Adelaide Fringe ambassador, likens being in the city during Mad March to being in New York.

“Adelaide is already one of my favourite places and during Fringe it just gets better,” she says.

“It’s like being in New York – everything’s open all hours, loads of people out and about, restaurants and bars embrace late trading, and there are all sorts of shows to see, from kooky acts you’ve never heard of playing funky little venues to household-name international acts playing the bigger theatres.”

Flanagan, who made her Adelaide Fringe debut in 2011, is the third Fringe ambassador, following comedian Paul McDermott and singer Katie Noonan.

The role is supported by the South Australian Tourism Commission and will see her spruiking the arts festival around the country, with Adelaide Fringe director Greg Clarke saying he believes she will help increase the number of interstate visitors in 2015.

Flanagan describes the vibe during Fringe as “incredible”, telling InDaily: “It works so well cos Adelaide is so easy to get around and there’s something happening in every corner of the city.

“And don’t get me started on local wines. Even as I type this, I’m enjoying a cheeky glass of bubbles from the Adelaide Hills region – bloody gorgeous!”

Below, she answers more questions about her new gig, favourite Fringe moments and handling hecklers.

Is this just the first step in a grand new career plan – Fringe ambassador today, UN ambassador tomorrow?

Look, I’m loving the title – it makes me feel incredibly grand – but I have to say I’ve been a little disappointed to learn that you don’t get diplomatic immunity as Fringe Ambassador. I was hoping to be able to enjoy a month-long crime spree without ever being arrested. I’m not sure exactly what form my crime spree would have taken cos I’m quite conservative … maybe knocking off a few of those delicious salted caramel eclairs from the markets, riding trams for free, jaywalking, doing 41km an hour in a 40km school zone – hard-core stuff like that.

What’s been your favourite Adelaide Fringe experience over the years (aside from winning the Best Comedy Award in 2013)?

Last time I was at Fringe, I remember going for a bit of a wander and seeing this guy dressed as a dragon with a chihuahua, also dressed as a dragon, tucked under his arm. He was outside a tent “flyering” his show in a really low-key way. Something about the two of them really made me giggle so I bought a ticket and went to see his show: Piff the Magic Dragon and his sidekick Mr Piffles. It was so funny. So deadpan. And if I’d just looked through the program I might have missed it.

That’s the beauty of Fringe – you can just have a stroll, take a punt and often times you’ll be rewarded.

What’s one subject guaranteed to crack up a sedate crowd?

In Adelaide, usually it’s making cheap shots about Elizabeth … but I, for one, will not be making any of those sort of jokes! We did a gig in Elizabeth last year and it was top-notch. Lovely theatre, great audience, excellent vibe … so yeah, shut up Adelaide, Elizabeth is awesome!

And your strategy for taking down the hecklers?

I don’t really have a strategy. If I can get down off the stage and physically reach them, I’ll take their hand and pat it in a soothing way and ask: “Why so angry chum? What’s all this shouting about?” Often people don’t know how to respond to that.

Fortunately, I don’t tend to get angry hecklers much any more. Mostly it’s just enthusiastic people calling out and joining in – and that’s fine.

You’re currently starring as PR manager Rhonda in the hilarious ABC satire Utopia. What’s more fun – TV or stand-up?

Can’t compare. Both have loads of good things. Playing Rhonda is a dream job cos I get to be annoying and rude (so much easier than trying play someone likeable) and I get to work with a lot of funny people like Toby Truslove (who plays Carsten) and of course .

But with stand-up you cannot beat hearing the immediate reaction of an audience when you get something right and really strike a chord. Stand-up will always be my first love!

The 2015 Adelaide Fringe will run from February 13 until March 15, with the official program due for release on November 28.

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