Michelle Brasier on gig theatre, big decisions, and building a legacy

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Michelle Brasier on gig theatre, big decisions, and building a legacy

Michelle Brasier
words by Joanne Brookfield

Having cemented her form with two hit solo shows, the Aunty Donna and Double Denim star is back to leave her lingering impact in nationally touring new show Legacy.

Bets on, you’re unlikely to ever forget the first time you hear Michelle Brasier sing. Such is her phenomenal talent – hearing that voice come out of her is akin to having your hair blown back and being bathed in some kind of beatific glow.

This dazzling chanteuse doesn’t just sing, of course. Brasier can write, act, and has comedy chops aplenty, the sum total of which is evidenced by the slew of awards that trail behind her name in any bio or media backgrounder. 

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Then there’s all the TV work she’s done, appearing in Shaun Micallef’s sketch show Mad As Hell, Working Dog’s political satire series Utopia, ABC’s morning TV send-up Get Krackin’, and Ten’s Network Ten’s Drunk History Australia and How To Stay Married.

Her work with absurdist comedy group Aunty Donna, however, has exposed her to the widest audience. Previously a part of their smash-hit Netflix special, Aunty Donna’s Big Ol’ House of Fun, she’s back again in their new series Aunty Donna’s Coffee Café, which will be available to stream on ABC iView from April 12.

But what if she’d made different choices? What would her life look like instead?

It’s a question she began pondering back in 2020, when she went to a cinema to watch some friends do a live podcast. When she went to collect her tickets, they handed her “an envelope with my name, handwritten on it, and I opened it up inside of it was $10.50 and mostly coins”. 

Knowing this wasn’t intended for her, she tried handing it back. “Oh, we don’t accept cash” she was told. “So then I just had this cash that was not mine. It was somebody else’s and I’ve never met another Michelle Brasier, I’ve never even met another Brasier,” she says.

“Just the idea that there’s another me, in Melbourne with my name walking around – I just became obsessed, because I’m always so obsessed with all the different women that I could have been if I’d made different decisions,” she says of how the idea for Legacy, her third solo show, originated.


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Opening this week in the Gold Coast, Legacy will be performed at the Canberra Comedy Festival before running for a full season as part of the 2023 Melbourne International Comedy Festival. After Melbourne, Brasier will take the show to the Sydney Comedy Festival in late April and Perth Comedy Festival in May.

Under the moniker Double Denim, Brasier has been very successfully performing award-winning sketch and character comedy with co-conspirator Laura Frew for many years (and their fans need not despair: Brasier assures “we’re still really dedicated to working together” and they hope to do a fourth show together next year). 

In 2021, she wrote and performed solo show Average Bear, the form of which had been inspired by the “gig theatre” she had seen over the years at the Edinburgh Fringe. 

“It’s really big in the UK, but I suppose not really a thing here, because people go ‘Is it cabaret? Or is it comedy? What is this? Is it a play? Is it a musical?’. You know, people get confused,” she tells Beat, while walking her dog in Melbourne.

“I wanted to build something that used all my skill sets and I just wanted to tell my story. I thought if I’m going to step out by myself, I might as well bare it all, I suppose, and I think dealing with grief and dealing with big things like that, you have to be okay. So that’s why it took so long to make,” she says of the very personal and moving show that explored the impact of losing family members to cancer.

In the end, it was a smash hit, winning her the Sydney Comedy Festival’s Directors’ Choice Award and earning a nomination for Most Outstanding Show at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. 

The follow-up, Reform, another personal tale about an online scam (“it’s a story about forgiveness and about choosing to see the best in people”) was also critically acclaimed.

“It’s almost a full musical between me and my partner playing the guy who scammed me and I just think that’s something I built, and I’m I’m proud that I built it well,” says Brasier, who lives and collaborates with musician Tim Lancaster.

After two wildly successful shows, Brasier feels like she’s finally “cemented her form”. Her new show, Legacy, builds on the legacy of its two predecessors in style and again delves into the personal as a way of examining broader themes.

“It’s looking at what your story is and being deliberate with your story and what legacy means if you don’t have children,” she explains.

The 34-year-old realised that, as she’s been living her life, “I was sort of curating this story, picturing sort of a book that I could read to a little girl when I was older. But I don’t have a little girl, I don’t have a daughter. And I’ve never wanted one. I’ve never wanted a child. It’s just been collecting this story for this kid – and I think the kid is me”.

In Brasier’s capable hands, there’s no doubt her Legacy will leave a lasting impact on all who encounter her.

To snag tickets to see Michelle Braiser perform Legacy at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival during its run from March 30 to April 23, head here