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Tuesday 15 January 2013

Nelly Thomas - 'What Women Want': interview

At a Sydney charity comedy night I attended late last year hosted by Nando's called 'Thrill By Mouth', the line-up included Nelly Thomas, and from the moment she took the stage, I was hooked.

She has just released a book titled "What Women Want", and it's a cracker read. Hey guess what: there's an excerpt below, an entire hilarious chapter. Read it! You'll wanna buy the book.

I interviewed Nelly for Josie's Juice Blog, and she was as fabulous as I expected.

Josie: I loved the book from the very first words of the intro. Particularly this: “I am a self-employed working mother. I am autonomous, my own boss, financially independent – everything women of my generation were supposed to be – but I’m tired.” I am hearing you: so exceptionally tired. Have we given yourselves far too much to do, too many choices?

Nelly: I don’t think we’ve given ourselves too many choices as such - not having choice is a far greater burden - just ask women in Saudi Arabia or Far North Queensland (little joke there Joyce); but we definitely have too much *to do*. There’s that often quoted Gloria Steinem thing about women wanting it all but instead doing it all? That rings true. Things are improving, but women – even those who work full-time, outside the home – still do most of the domestic work. Turns out working 45 hours a week, running a household and caring for kids all at once is kind of exhausting! Who knew? More changes are still needed at work, but a shit-load needs to change at home. Dudes need to step it up and dudettes need to step aside. And bosses need to chill out and let everyone work less. (For real). Until that happens a lot of us will yearn for the “good old days” when women didn’t work. Problem is, the good old days weren’t that good – especially for women. Put it this way, women couldn’t even get a bank loan without a husband. Enough said? Okay. We need a new way that’s fairer for everyone.

J: I adore your Nan’s quote: “All these books; Nelly, what else do you need to know?” And so: what else DO you need to know?

N: Yes, I think my reading “habit” confused many of my family members. My beloved Nanna (who recently passed away actually) would often look at me quizzically as I sat in her large recliner reading something or another, and just smile. It wasn’t a “you’re stupid” smile, but she found it genuinely bemusing that I would read for pleasure. I guess living to almost 100, surviving 12 children, a husband, 5 siblings and 2 world wars gives you enough insight that perhaps books become redundant?

As for what I need to know? Well, like most of us, to learn when enough is enough. Enough food, enough money, enough stuff, enough tasks. I need to learn to sit quietly and be at peace with who I am, where I am and what I am. Nanna had that.

J: Tell me more about how you help educate kids at school about sex?

N: I guess the short answer is that I use humour to talk abut hard stuff – safe sex and ethics. Kids are so used to being lectured at (sex will kill you and you’ll get raped and die) or patronised (here’s a mummy bird and a daddy bird) and they respond to neither. I get advice from health professionals about what they need to learn, and then make it entertaining. It’s not always funny, but it’s always entertaining and engaging and never preachy. Plus, I don’t embarrass easily – that helps a lot.

J: Your recent Sydney show [for Nando’s] was just brilliant. I love that you swore like a trooper. I adore swearing. Lots. Not in front my kids [that’s what we all say, isn’t it?]. What is it about swearing that you love so much?

N: I just love filthy language – I love how it sounds, I love how it feels, I love how it’s almost a visceral experience to say certain words. I mean seriously, how can one convey the kind of disgust for a really shitty human being or situation without saying “fuck”. “Fuckknuckle” is an unsurpassable insult. Impossible. Plus, swearing is Australian and everyone should get over being offended by it. Deal with it.

J: Tell me what you’d like the average punter to get from your book?
N: Probably relief. If there’s one thing I think people respond to most in my work is the honesty, the “ahhh, I feel like that too – maybe I’m okay!” feeling. We put up a lot of pretences and I – and other comedians – try to shatter them. We’re all a bit broken, most of us are doing our best, some of us succeed. Such as it is, it always has been. An unexpected bonus has been some fan mail from parents – baby boomers – who have said variations on a theme of “I now understand my daughter”. I didn’t expect that, but geez it’s nice.

J: What next for you?
N: More of the same – stand-up, writing, health promotion, family. I am working on a novel, but it might be a bit shit. Watch this space and we’ll see. If I’m invited, I’ll come back to Sydney and swear some more.

Download your free chapter on Nelly's book 'What Women Want' now - click below:
April Free Chapter - What Women Want by Nelly Thomas

You can follow Nelly on Twitter here: @MsNellyThomas

And ere is her book cover:

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