Frankie Rowsthorn: ‘He’s a 60-year-old family man and I’m a 21-year-old girl, but we do have the same sense of humour’

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Frankie Rowsthorn: ‘He’s a 60-year-old family man and I’m a 21-year-old girl, but we do have the same sense of humour’

Frankie Rowsthorn
Words by Tyler Jenke

In the world of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, it’s often rare to see the Comedy Zone (which features Australia’s rising stars of comedy) boast a familiar name.

For Frankie Rowsthorn, she’s not exactly too worried that people will be expecting a carbon copy of her dad, Pete Rowsthorn.

“People don’t really make a whole lot of comparisons – most people really know my dad from Kath & Kim and forget he does stand up,” Rowsthorn admits. “Our comedy is very different considering he’s a 60-year-old family man and I’m a 21-year-old girl but we do have the same sense of humour.

Frankie Rowsthorn at Comedy Zone

  • Trades Hall – Common Rooms Bar
  • March 28 – April 21
  • Tickets here

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“There were a few advantages with a comedy dad when I first started,” she adds. “I had the best mentor possible, and I didn’t get sucked into freak open mic cults with creepy older comics ’cause my famous dad was always with me at gigs before I turned 18. Having him as a guide gave me such a healthy perspective on comedy and made my goals very high.”

With high goals though, Rowsthorn admits that being on the Comedy Zone lineup provides a little less pressure to perform in front of seasoned chucklers as a comparative newbie.

“I think it’s gonna be the best way to experience the comedy festival for the first time,” she says. “Zone has a lot of credibility in the festival and I’m always worried that the cooler older comics will think I’m a random loser, but with Comedy Zone on my side it’s a little less intimidating to enter the festival as a newbie.”

Despite being something of a new face, Rowsthorn isn’t exactly brand new in the world of media. After all, she’s appeared alongside her father on The Amazing Race, and you can regularly find her programming triple j as a host. But comedy patrons will be getting pure and uncut Rowsthorn onstage.

I feel way more like myself on stage than I do on TV or radio,” she says. “I’ve been doing standup longer than triple j and I was only on The Amazing Race for two seconds.

“triple j listeners just want me to shut up and play the music so they don’t know much about me besides my constant mispronunciation of artists’ names,” she adds. “I’d love it if they would come see me in Zone! I’d say I represent the average 21-year-old girl pretty well, I try to be as honest as possible about the crippling self-consciousness the average girl in her early 20s is experiencing.”

Despite only being in her early 20s, Rowsthorn has been performing since she was a teenager – the result of a lifelong calling to the world of the arts.

“For some reason – probably nepotism – there was no doubt that I would do some form of entertainment and make it work for me somehow,” she says. “I’ve always gravitated towards comedy and heavily relied on funny women as a guide during my formative years. I’m really terrible at a lot of things but I’ve always loved to put on a show for literally anyone, it was more of a no-question thing when it came to what I wanted to be as an adult. 

“I was terrified of starting comedy but I knew I was gonna do it eventually,” she admits. “When I was 14 I did a three-minute set in a regional town in WA during my dad’s show but I went to my first proper open mic after school when I was 16.”

Most of us would probably look back on our teenage creative efforts with a sense of embarrassment and endlessly cringe at what we’d thought was quality. For Rowsthorn though, she’s grateful for the experimental approach her formative years offered. 

“I was heavily inspired by sketch comedians like Kristen Wigg and Kate McKinnon (who I had an Instagram fan account for),” she recalls. “I used to do a Stevie Nicks and Liza Minnelli impression, the Stevie Nicks one was really bad but the Liza one was pretty good. 

“Starting in Perth was difficult, it’s hard to be experimental and free there so I got scared out of doing that,” she adds. “I’m still trying to find the confidence to do things like that again, but as hard as it was, it did force me to write jokes that worked almost every time.”

As one of Australia’s rising stars of comedy, it’s clearly worked out for her – now it’s all about achieving those lofty goals.

Get tickets here.