2020 has been a shit year and few know that better than Urzila Carlson who between Lockdowns and quarantine spend 11 weeks in isolation. To promote her new show All The Rage which tours the country this month, she talks to Oliver Hall about a perfect pansexual world, completing Pornhub and dying from vaginal airlock.
What were your best and worst quarantine experiences?
The best was getting to finish coffee while it’s still hot and getting to have a bubble bath without taps sticking into my back and my ass on the plug. Usually, the kids ensure I get neither… Hopefully, I’ll never have a time like that again in my life where I just have weeks alone. There were some pluses but also a big Debbie Downer.
Was most of your quarantine spent in Australia?
Some was in Australia. All up was about 11 weeks, some in Lockdown and some in government quarantine.
I flew from here to Sydney in mid-July and spent two weeks in government quarantine. From there I went to Melbourne who had just gone into level 4 lockdown. Which meant I could only go to the studio to record [the Australian version of the TV show The Masked Singer] and back to my apartment. I couldn’t socialise or even see my manager. It was like prison rules, I was allowed to go outside for an hour to walk each day, which the same as people on death row. So I didn’t get to see with anyone except on-set, where we had to be social distancing. No mingling or green room.
Then we had an outbreak on set, so I had to isolate for 48 hours. Then it was discovered that I was a close contact. Which lead to two weeks where I couldn’t leave my apartment. That taught me a very valuable lesson: when you book air B&B make sure you get something with an outside area and sunlight. I had neither for [what turned out to be] six weeks of isolation. When I book accommodation, I think ‘I don’t give a shit, I’m just going to sleep there.’
And that’s ‘no’ sunlight, not ‘very little’, because there was a parking building right in front of my window.
We were filming every second day and I stayed across the road from Albert Park golf course so I just thought I’ll play golf on my days off and get all my sun and exercise – Nah! Not one golf club was swung.
Then when I finally got back to New Zealand, I had two weeks in isolation here.
What did all this time in isolation teach you about yourself?
I quite enjoy my own company. I didn’t watch anything on Netflix during that time. And I had access to it. I just didn’t do it.
I did do a lot of writing. Every day I tried to make a funny video for people. I didn’t lose spirit, the sense of humour stayed. I was quite impressed with myself really because you don’t know until you’re in a crisis situation, how you are going to react.
I saw one of the funny social media videos you did in quarantine about Pornhub. What did Pornhub teach you about the world during your time in isolation?
Hahaha, I just said that because everyone was asking, ‘what do you do?’ and I was thinking ‘what do I do?’ So I started telling people, ‘I completed Pornhub… I completed all the porn. And in the end, they just sit there playing monopoly, thinking, ‘surely no one’s watching!’
Women have so much to worry about already and I just found a really big worry for us this morning and now I can think of nothing else! #TheAirUpThere #KeepYourLipsSealed #quarantinelife #QarantineQueen pic.twitter.com/DE5NYS1UTT
— Urzila Carlson (@UrzilaCarlson) September 15, 2020
Another of your videos discussed the fear of dying for air getting locked in your vagina. Did you ever discover more about this? And should all women be scared?
I just cannot believe that that is an actual thing. Airlock in our vaginas! It holds a baby in for crying out loud. So, it can hold in a breeze. It’s a very strong muscle. You don’t know when it could hold on to the wind and kill you. You don’t know when your vagina’s going to go rogue! So I triple panty it from now on to avoid airlock in my vagina.
And you’re sure this isn’t fake news? This is genuinely something people can die from?
Yeah, 100%. You cannot get an airlock in your vagina. It does need to be a bit more than a breeze, you can’t do the splits over a floor vent or the pump in the jacuzzi, which sadly has been my life’s goal. So that’s off the bucket list now!
I’m terrified for everyone I know who has a vagina!
You moved to New Zealand in 2006. Why was it New Zealand for you, of anywhere you could have moved to?
I already at that stage had lived in the States; San Antonio, Texas. I lived in Wales in Cardiff. I even had residency in the states, but they are so culturally different… even the way they Barbeque!
Did you carry a gun?
No [pause, low voice] but I did in South Africa! (laughs) That ain’t a big question for a South African!
I just thought I wanna go somewhere where they BBQ like us. They play cricket like us. With sunnier weather than the UK. So that left Australia and New Zealand and I couldn’t go and live in a country where Shane Warn lives, so I chose here.
In the last 14 years, what have you learnt about New Zealand and about kiwis in general?
They’re quite laid back but in saying that, they’re not laid back. (smiles) They’re so busy telling everyone to be laid back, they’re not laid back. Like shouting at people to calm down. (laughs) But overall, I think New Zealanders are better at having each other’s backs than any other country I’ve ever lived in.
What are your hopes for South Africa?
I hope unemployment goes down. I hope the economy recovers… On the ground, there’s still a lot of division. If they can overcome that then the rest will solve itself. The economy will recover and crime will go down… If crime wasn’t so high there, you wouldn’t know any South Africans because we’d all still be there.
You came out to your mum at 26. What lead to it and how did it go?
At that point, everyone knew. It was like when you smoke on the sly. Everyone knows. You know everyone knows. They know, that you know, they know; but no says anything because it means you keep the smoking down to a minimum…
I had never felt the need to come out. I was just dating who I was dating. Then my mum had a friend whose son had come out and he’d phoned his parents and said ‘hey dad, I’m gay,’ and my mum said she would love to get a phone call like that. “If I got a phone call like that I would be proud,” she told me, and I was the only was one of her three kids who wasn’t married, so I gave her a call and said Mum, ‘here’s your phone call,’ and she said, ‘why didn’t you tell me years ago?’
So, I didn’t actually say the words, she really did it for me.
Did it feel like a weight off or a relief?
Yeah, I guess so. Like I said, I was never really bothered I was just living my life. If someone asked, ‘are you dating so and so, I’d just say ‘yah’ I never hid it. I couldn’t be bothered. I’m like ‘be into it, don’t be into it, I don’t care’… I was surprised when people were against it. I was like ‘I can’t believe you feel the need to get involved in shit that doesn’t concern you at all.’ I did have a couple of friends who did that and I said ‘I don’t know what to do with this information and I said, ‘literally nothing, it has nothing to do with you.’ I don’t see how me today is any different from me yesterday. They’d go, “I need time to process it,” and I was like “well, in that case, do it away from me. Just don’t come near me.”
And for girls out there who are realising they are a lesbian – what are your survival tips the lesbian community and just navigating the world in general as a gay woman?
Just in general – being single is an absolute nightmare! Online dating is a nightmare! Meet someone in person would be my first survival tip… To me, in a perfect world, we are all pansexual. It should just be, ‘I like you.’ It should never come down to sexuality. Who you date, who you see, none of that is my business. If you are attracted to someone it shouldn’t matter. Gender-wise, non-gender. In a perfect world that’s how it all is.
And If you come to terms with who you are. Just take a deep breath. There’s no need to rush in a do a backflip into this pool. It’s okay to take your time. It’s not going anywhere.
How did you and your partner meet?
At a rugby game. It was the All Blacks V Ireland. I didn’t really have a dog in the game.
You guys have had kids. What have your kids taught you about yourself?
How far you can be pushed. How many times you can repeat something and think ‘I can’t believe I’m not losing my absolute mind here!’ They’ve taught me how to have fun and how to live in the moment. Because kids are just here and now. There’s no future and past. And honesty. If they want to know something they’ll just ask and I think that’s really cool.
Have they taught you anything about how the world is changing?
Yeah. That nothing is an issue.
My seven year old will ask a lot of questions like, the other day she asked me what is ‘gay’. She knows transgender people and asexual people, but she doesn’t know the labels. So I told her what gay is and asked if she wanted to know about any of the others. She said ‘no’ and I said ‘you don’t want to know about Tracey?’ and she said, ‘I already know about Tracey!’
It’s their normal. To us, it was a bigger deal. I remember when I met my first gay person and I was so excited to know a homosexual, to them it’s a total non-event.
What inspired your new show All The Rage?
As a society we’re getting angrier and angrier which makes no sense because everything in our lives is meant to make things easier. From online dating where everyone lies to soft-close doors and toilets which is meant to feel better but it doesn’t because we don’t get that release. Even uber. Back in the day, you could get a taxi and if the driver was an asshole, pay him, slam the door and go, ‘you’re an asshole!’ Now, you can’t do that because he’ll give you a one-star review… where’s my release?
So what’s your conclusion? How do we release our rage?
We need to release the rage otherwise it will all boil over, so you’ll have to come to the show to see the ways we can get it all out!
When you wrote your previous show ‘Overqualified Loser’ did you know it was going to be on Netflix?
I had no idea. The ladies from Netflix came to the show in Melbourne. I stay around at the end to talk to people and take selfies and after about an hour these two American girls came up and I asked if they were on holiday. They said they were from Netflix, and I said, ’next time don’t wait. You can cut the line.’ All these people are fucking dead to me if Netflix is in the room.
And what does screening worldwide do for a comedian’s career?
Well normally(!) you’re in LA, but because of COVID… The countries it’s been huge in are really unexpected, like Sweden, Brazil, Israel… it’s been translated into 32 different languages!
Jeez, I would love to hear if the translators have got your tone and timing on point.
(laughs) It’s the sub-titles that are translated not me. But It would be good to hear me in Russian!
Oh! That makes much more sense!
Quarantine aside how was the experience of filming The Masked Singer and how different is filming TV shows in Australia to filming in New Zealand?
It is because Australian’s have a lot more money than we do, so everything is bigger and better. It was amazing because the minute Jackie-O and I met each other, our souls were connected. Dani Minogue was amazing. Dave Hughes, I’ve worked with heaps before. Even the host Osher was amazing. We still have a WhatsApp group we all talk on every day, we used to watch tv shows together on Zoom. We had such a good time. Because we were locked down together on set, there were only ten of us in our bubble and we got so close. Danni was the only one with a bit of freedom because she was staying with her parents, so her dad could go out to the shops. She’d bring me in lemons for my gin and tonic.
What are you most looking forward to ‘personally’ and ‘professionally’ in 2021?
I hope there’s a vaccine and that we can all get it and get back into travelling and touring. I miss people. I miss the crowds.
We can’t wait to see you!
I’m excited to do it.
URZILA CARLSON’s All the Rage tours New Zealand this month playing:
-TOWN HALL, CHRISTCHURCH on THURSDAY, DECEMBER 10
-KIRI TE KANAWA THEATRE, AUCKLAND on MONDAY, DECEMBER 14 and
-MICHAEL FOWLER CENTRE, WELLINGTON on WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 16
Tickets are on sale now. For complete tour and ticket information, visit:
INSTAGRAM – @urzilacarlson
TWITTER – @UrzilaCarlson
FACEBOOK – @UrzilaCarlsonComedian