Karen Edwards nearly didn’t enter the comedy arena.
It took a bucket list after a kidney transplant thirteen years ago for the full-time community support officer, and single mum to even consider stand-up comedy.
She became involved in the Indigenous comedy competition Deadly Funny after finding out about it on Facebook. “People always said ‘you’re funny, you should do stand-up comedy’, and I just kept getting tagged in posts about the competition.”
Finally in 2015, she drove the 700km from Charleville to Brisbane, to take her place in the Brisbane heat of the competition. After missing the workshop for competitors, “don’t even start me on that”, she had a quick practice at Indigenous arts centre The Watch House before taking the stage.
With Stephen Oliver of ‘Black Comedy’ fame as MC, and Sean Choolburra as a guest act she admits she found it “a bit intimidating.”
However, her bawdy and brash routine beat out the six male competitors to win the heat and to take her place in the grand final. When asked about that moment she still appears gobsmacked: “I won… I couldn’t believe it.”
She was flown to the Melbourne International Comedy Festival where she was mentored by renowned Indigenous comedian Kevin Kropinyeri.
It was also at the finale that she met Judith Lucy for the first time.
As runner up in the competition, Karen was awarded the Institute of Koorie Education Deadly Funny mentorship which entitled her to a one-on-one coaching session with the acclaimed comedian..
“Look I couldn’t put a price on that, it was better than winning, she’s one of my idols."
"To meet her and get some tips, I always use her advice when I perform…her advice about working in the industry, and as a woman in a male-dominated industry have been invaluable.”
Judith Lucy, in her usual droll manner, contends that she became involved with Deadly Funny because, “I'm a left leaning, guilt riddled, privileged, white wanker”.
The pair met up in November and Karen credits the opportunity with empowering her to continue in stand-up comedy. And continue she has.
Karen recently had her work credited as a writer for the ABC’s ‘Black Comedy’ Series 2, and will be performing in an upcoming show ‘Aborigi-LOL’ with fellow Deadly Funny alumni at the Melbourne Comedy Festival.
Wes Snelling, the producer of the Deadly Funny program said, “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have many funny stories to tell, a program like Deadly Funny allows for peeps to take the main stage and be heard via the medium of entertainment. It is so important that we do see and hear our indigenous talent on our stages and screens.”