Australia’s queen of comedy Fiona O’Loughlin is back and more rejuvenated than ever

Australia’s queen of comedy Fiona O’Loughlin is back and more rejuvenated than ever

Words by Joanne Brookfield

O’Loughlin is appearing at Melbourne International Comedy Festival for two shows in 2021.

It’s a far more glamorous Fiona O’Loughlin you’ll see staring back at you from her posters or TV appearances these days. The fabulous new wardrobe and platinum locks are less about a calculated marketing rebrand and more about the “seismic shift” she’s currently going through in her personal life.

“It’s the first time ever I’ve felt good in my body,” she admits.

While her external appearance may have changed, she still retains that wicked cackle of hers and as an autobiographical stand-up, she’s as candid as she’s ever been as she talks with Beat in the lead up to her 2021 Melbourne International Comedy Festival shows, The Unreliable Witness and No Lies.

“I’m 15 months into what I always said was going to be an 18-month home rehab,” she says from Adelaide.

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Fiona O’Loughlin can easily be described as one of the reigning queens of Australian comedy. She was also anointed Queen of the Jungle in 2018 after winning I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!, which helped solidify her household-name status. Originally known for being the “Mother of five from Alice Springs” over the years, her private issues with alcohol became public, hence the rehab.

She’s proud to say that December 17, 2019 is her “sober day” but that’s not the only thing that has changed her life. A recent diagnosis of ADHD has been a welcome development.

“Without a doubt this diagnosis and the information that has come with it has lead me to the brightest patch of happiness in all my life,” she says. “Having found out so much more about the way my mind works with the revelation of ADHD, it’s the most fascinating, wonderful thing that’s ever happened to me, ever.”

“I’m able to access a third of my mind,” she says of the positive effect medication for the condition has had on her, which is good news for comedy fans. This newfound combination of sobriety and clarity has led to a prolific writing period, and for this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival, she’s presenting not one but two full-length shows.

The first, The Unreliable Witness, is an adaptation of her latest memoir Truths from an Unreliable Witness, taking place at the Town Hall. “It’s as if there was another chapter, what happened next?” she says of how the content of the show takes the story further.

Then there’s No Lies, which is “just stand-up, because I’ve learned how to write it,” she says. “Stand-up was so hard for me to write because I was always waiting to have enough anecdotes to fit the play that I cast in my head, you know, when I write a show.” Now, she’s just punching out those observations and punchlines.

She’s also giving away a free copy of her first memoir, Me of the Never Never, to anyone who buys a ticket to the later pub show. “The third book is going to be so much better,” she erupts in laughter at the thought of what’s next. “Because I live in a new mind now.”

Revelling with joy that she’s survived all she has and with a whole lot more left to say yet, it’s a glammed up Fiona O’Loughlin returning to Melbourne, just with the gloves off.

Fiona O’Loughlin will appear at Melbourne International Comedy Festival with two shows, The Unreliable Witness and No Lies. Grab tickets to the shows here.