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Aussie treasure Felicity Ward conquered hometown Woy Woy and a drinking problem to be comedy’s next big thing. She’s moving to London and brings The Hedgehog Dilemma with her

“A railway station and a titty bar wrapped in an anus,” is how Felicity Ward describes her hometown of Woy Woy, a small slice of suburbia (pop. 9985) on the Central Coast of New South Wales.

And yet it’s these humble beginnings that set Ward on a path to comedy stardom, her debut stand-up show Ugly As A Child recalling this less than glamorous upbringing with brutally hilarious honesty, and bagging her Best Newcomer at the Melbourne Fringe into the bargain. 

That was back in 2008, and in the five short years since Ward has been decorated and adored the world over, winning accolades and selling out seasons at the Edinburgh Fringe, the Sydney and Perth Comedy Festivals and Melbourne International Comedy Festival, to name just a few. She’s also been a regular face on the likes of ABC’s Spicks And Specks and Network Ten’s Good News Week. 

 

But while it might sound like Ward was blessed with a shortcut to success, truth is it’s been a rough road – a chapter she’s looking to close with a re-run of her most difficult show, The Hedgehog Dilemma, at the Soho Theatre this month, before starting afresh with new material at the Edinburgh Fringe in August.

“My last show [Hedgehog] was a bit gut-wrenching because it was based on a time when a lot of things were bad,” Ward tells TNT, her sober confession completely at odds with the assault of animated, ever-so-slightly unhinged energy she thrusts down the phone line.

Indeed, it’s hard to imagine Ward as the “sad clown” she’s admitted to feeling like in the past. Around her first Edinburgh Fringe show, one interviewer wrote that she was “as endearingly doolally when in civvies as she is when performing”, and that holds true today, even if Ward insists she’s “chilled out a lot since I first started”. 

If this is Ward at her most mellow, we’re alarmed at the idea of her even more excitable: “When I first did Edinburgh I was crazy!” she yells in her brash Aussie brogue, before half-singing, half-squealing: “I LOST MY MIND!” Nod. Smile. Back away.

Because Hedgehog is rooted in what was a tough time for the comedian, Ward had feared it might be too serious to get laughs. The title itself is hardly the stuff of knee-slapping mirth, referring to the impossibility of human intimacy without causing mutual harm (much as hedgehogs will hurt each other with their spines if they get too close). 

She admits a trial run of the show for friends confirmed her anxieties. “They said the first half, which was full of stories about my drinking problem [Ward is now teetotal], was just too sad.” The solution? Ward converted her sorry tales into a three-minute, Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious-esque ditty. Much funnier.

In the end, Hedgehog hit a home run. Taking Ward’s experiences of quitting the grog (her drinking was at one time so out of hand, she got a call from TV’s Logie Awards asking that she “pace herself” on the big night), ending an eight-year relationship and starting life “from scratch”, it turned them into something audiences could both relate to and piss themselves laughing at.


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Interview - Felicity Ward: ''Im a loose-cannon nob' says the Aussie comedian
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