What have the past 12 months been like for Nurse Georgie Carroll?

I released my first book, Off the Charts, and I have never been prouder of anything. Network 10 bought my comedy special. I also sulked like a brat about lots of lost opportunities and pulled gigs. I stuck to most of the COVID rules but had 11 on Christmas day, which I do not regret. I cooked lots ­– I mean savoury batch cooking, I don’t bake, baking is for the prissy, cooking is for the chaotic. I drank lots. I got a bit fatter, despite climbing lots of Adelaide’s Hills. Basically, I have come out of 2021 well padded, strong, pickled and happy.

We’re told you’ve come direct to the stage from working in a vaccination clinic – which, to be honest, doesn’t sound like a great source of comedy inspiration…

And you would be right. I always loved nursing for the unpredictability and the connection you can forge with all the types of humans. Thing is, if you don’t nurse a lot, If you aren’t match-fit, you do not get to do the exciting cutting-edge jobs. I wanted to help out with the COVID defence, and as I am pretty deskilled these days, I reckoned throwing darts in people a few days a month was the best way I could help and still have room in my head to write my new show, the book, the podcast and a sit-com I am crafting.

How did the cancellation of your Perth Fringe season affect your planning for the Adelaide Fringe show?

Ah, that was a blow. That was definitely a sulky week for me. I normally build a show in front of people and fail and grow in Sydney and Perth Fringes, so the show is solid for Adelaide, [but this year] we lost both of these bootcamps. I had to practise this one in my bedroom in front of a mirror and trust that what I think is funny would land on stage on opening night.

First night of Adelaide Fringe I had to “commit to the bit” like never before, like a kid doing their first backflip off a jetty. The adrenalin and feel of that first gig back and seeing that people were coming out and proper ready to enjoy life was incredible.

What can audiences expect from Sister Flo 2.0?

I always have a nurse-based title because I reckon there is a certain collection of things that you expect from a nurse, and I am a born nurse. You expect a trustworthy, intelligent, funny, brutally nurturing character ­– they judge, and they still care. My audience is pretty much 50/50 split health care and non-health care [workers], so the funny is not all medical but it all comes from the perspective of “someone can see you naked or vulnerable and still make a connection”.

When did you first realise you might be able to make a living from making people laugh?

That would be the fault of another SA comedy legend, Micky D. He spotted me very early and threw me around every club in the country. You don’t get paid at first; you almost pay to play because you have to fly yourself interstate and find a couch to sleep on. There is a network of people, comedy fans around the country who put people up while they are starting in the touring business. Many of them are still my friends 10 years later.

I did that for a year, which was a big financial backstep for my family (husband Steve, Tom, now 17, and Rob, now 15). Once I had been everywhere and showed them my gear I started to break even and then Mickey showed me how to build the business, how to market and get bigger rooms each year. I started Adelaide Fringe in a 70-seater at the Maid & Magpie in 2010. By the time Mick had finished with me I had a 700-seater in Gluttony. Now I have management (A-List Entertainment) and it just gets bigger.

I pinch myself on the regular and wonder how this happened. It all feels like I got asked out by the hot boy at high school. You kind of think: “Are you sure you asked the right person? Is this a prank?” Anyway, the hot boy asked and I am going to just keep dating them for as long as I can without forgetting who I am. I love how much my family supported me and believed in me in those early years ­– it’s is a family business, really, but I do all the work.

And the worst heckle you’ve ever received on stage?

I very rarely get them, very rarely. Sometimes you get people in the audience who do not quite realise they are in a show and carry on conversations with each other, usually because of Savvy B. The conversation will be about nothing. You might say “sausage” on stage and then they jabber away about sausages to each other. That is way more annoying than a heckle. They don’t hate you, they aren’t mean, they just don’t know that they are in a show any more and that the people around them are trying to enjoy the comedy. I get them removed if they don’t shush after a couple of reminders ­– I get the audience to vote them off the island.

When you’re not nursing or performing, where’s your happy place?

Up a hill or in water or shovelling food in me. I am happy pretty much anywhere except in front of a TV or watching team sports.

You’ve got a full season in your home town ­– how does that feel?

Great! With the last few years being so uncertain, it is wonderful to be able to bolt on the stage pretty much guaranteed for a month straight. It may sound obnoxious but my base line is pretty good. I love what I say on stage but with 30 days consecutively I get to a new level where It all feels like a dance; whatever I want to say next is exactly where I need it in the brain and I can just grab it and throw it at you and then new bits start to form in the emptier brain holes. I am very much looking forward to feeling excellent at this again.

Nurse Georgie Carroll ­– Sister Flo 2.0 is in the Garden of Unearthly Delights until March 20.

Read more 2022 Adelaide Fringe stories and reviews here.

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