Alice Fraser delves into the realities of humanity with her new show, ‘Ethos’
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Alice Fraser delves into the realities of humanity with her new show, ‘Ethos’

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When Alice Fraser – corporate lawyer, writer, director, producer, podcaster and comedian – flew halfway around the world to complete her Masters in English Literature at Cambridge, she felt as if she had been transplanted into one the stories she cherished as a child.

“I was very much in a fantasy world when I was younger,” says Fraser. “I wasn’t very popular in high school. I was the weird kid and I had this idea of what uni in England was going to be like, which I knew logically wasn’t going to be a reality. But I got there and it was. It was a dream.”

Finally living her dream, Fraser says she threw herself into campus life immediately.

“I remember during O Week I wanted to go join every club,” she says. “I went along to the Equestrian Club meeting and it was exactly what you’d expect with all these horsey aristocrats talking about polo and their thoroughbreds. It was amazing.”

Deciding the saddle club was not for her, Fraser found her voice among the theatrical crowd at the prodigious Cambridge University Footlights Dramatics Club, home to alumni that include Britain’s biggest comedy names, such as Eric Idle, David Mitchell, Simon Bird and Richard Ayoade.

“I did monologues, sketch and musical comedy in the Footlights, but I first tried stand-up comedy in New York,” says Fraser. “I was working as an intern at an investment bank and I was miserable. At the time, I wanted to do sketch comedy but I didn’t think that I was good enough or charming enough to do it there. So just standing on the stage of a dingy cellar with a microphone in hand doing jokes, that was my first experience of stand-up in New York. It’s a harsh place to start but it’s also a great place to start, as you can do up to eight spots in a night if you want to.”

Having cut her comedy chops in front of arguably the world’s most unforgiving audiences, Fraser is back at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival for the fourth time this year with her seriously clever and insightful show, ETHOS.

ETHOS explores artificial intelligence and what it means to be human. 

“AI is a really interesting area and it’s one subject that feeds into other issues I wanted to explore,” she says. “Another is the fact that I’m a women in a male-dominated industry. Unfortunately there are a lot of industries that women get told that they’re not good at, and one of them is science, technology and engineering.

“Today artificial intelligence is one of these cutting edge areas. Half the people think it’s going to enhance the world, the other half think it’s going to be the catalyst for the apocalypse. I’m fascinated by it, so I wanted to explore it in comedy.”