From the highs and lows of her career, to battles with drug abuse and the untold world of Melbourne’s hidden brothels, nothing is off-limits for quick-witted comedian Meshel Laurie in her latest venture.
The Fence-Painting Fortnight of Destiny is a candid look into the life of the Toowoomba-born comic, who lays her cards on the table in this hilarious tale of life, love and everything in between.
Taking time out from her busy schedule, we caught up with Meshel to discuss the recent release of her memoir.
I just finished your book, it’s really funny!
Thank you very much!
it’s also very candid. Were you worried at all about being so open?
No, no, I’m a very honest person. I think I’m more worried about someone else springing me about something, you know? I don’t like having secrets. I’d be more scared if I had secrets other people could tell!
What inspired you to write your memoir now?
Well, I had been wanting to write a book for quite a while, I love the idea of being able to work quietly at home. I pitched a few books ideas, and no one was ever interested in them – and then all of a sudden I got an email from an editor at Allen & Unwin who was reading my blog posts on Mamamia, and she suggested that I write a memoir! She really encouraged me all the way through, because I didn’t really want to. I didn’t think I had anything interesting to say!
You talk about your parents a lot throughout the book – have they read it?
Yeah, absolutely! I’m not one for secrets, and I certainly didn’t want a time-bomb ticking away that my parents hadn’t read [laughs].
What did they think of it?
They liked it! My mum is always just happy to be spoken about, she doesn’t really care what you’re saying. I learnt that many years ago in stand-up when I used to do routines that I thought were a bit rough, and she’d love them – I’d just think, ‘oh… okay’ [laughs]. As I’ve gotten older I’ve been a lot more open about everything, so all the drug stuff they probably had pieced together. I don’t think they’re too shocked at this point.
It seems like a really driving force throughout your career has been the fear that you’re going to be stuck somewhere
I’m one of those people, and it goes against every spiritual teaching that you’ll ever read, that it’s not the place that makes you happy – but the place actually does make me happy [laughs]. I always wanted to get to Melbourne, and now that I’m working in TV and radio, I really do feel a sense of accomplishment and contentment.
Are those anxieties still there at all?
I worried myself, because I have always tended to be a person who thinks, “What’s next? What’s next?” But now that I’m here I actually do feel a great feeling of satisfaction, and am looking forward to cruising on this level for as long as I can.
If you could go back, what advice would you give to a younger you?
Just to keep going, and never give up, you know? And when in doubt, work a bit harder. That’s what I’ve always tried to do. And that’s the great thing about stand-up, you can work as hard or as soft as you choose to. When times would get tough, I’d really get stuck in and write some new jokes, and work hard for a period of time. It lifted my spirit, and then it lifted me career wise as well!
You’ve got your show on Nova, you’re on This Week Live, and you’ve got a book out – how do you balance everything?
Really badly! [Laughs]. Certainly the first two or three weeks that the book was out were incredibly chaotic and I was barely holding on by my fingertips. This year was the first time in my life that I actually missed the flight to an engagement! So there was a period of time around the middle of this year where I really was hanging on by a thread, but it’s eased off a bit. I can see a nice holiday blooming!
What’s next for you?
I’d like to write more books. I pitched a book about my years in the sex industry many times, and no one was really ever interested, so I’m hoping now they will be. There’s a chapter in this book about it that I’d really like to expand on. I’d really like to get some current sex workers involved with that book, because I realised through a Twitter argument, that then turned into a really good conversation, thyat my experience in the sex industry is really quite outdated. You know, when I worked in brothels in Melbourne, the entire city was in the grip of a heroin wave, and I think it was a very different time! So I’d really like to reflect on my time, and then catch up with some of those girls who I haven’t seen in ten years to see what’s shaking now!
To pick up a copy of Meshel’s memoir The Fence-Painting fortnight of destiny , visit https://www.allenandunwin.com/
You can also view Bridgets review of Mesels book at www.gcmag.com.au/meshel-lauries-fence-painting-fortnight-destiny/