Cassandra Barbitoll is a star, and she knows it – despite what anyone else might think. Brought to life through the mind of comedian and performer Sophie Joske, Cassandra is a character remnant of a past Hollywood starlet, still dedicated to living glamorously despite all that may have happened. Popculture-y had the chance to chat to Joske about the development of her show, Woman of the Hour and the liberating nature of creating an alter ego for the stage.
“It’s going to sound a bit weird but it feels a little like having a superhero alter ego or something – because Cassandra is a lot of my fears as a performer in kind of a cartoon form,” Joske noted with a laugh when discussing the creation of her stage character – one which Joske has also taken to performing the occasional stand-up spots as. “She’s a character who, on the stage the audience loves her and she is a star. And because she’s just like that all the time, it’s kind of a fantasy I can believe in all the time and it’s very liberating, it’s very fun.”
With two previously nominated shows under her belt (last years Almost Lesbians was a Golden Gibbo Nominee), this year’s Woman of the Hour is a fresh take on the Melbourne International Comedy scene for Joske. “My other shows are definitely closer to a stand-up vibe. They’ve kind of always been a bit of a mix of stand-up and theatre. But up until this show I have been myself onstage usually.”
Another difference with this years show is the absence of other performers upon the stage, despite Joske playing over thirty different characters throughout the show. She noted that the development of Woman of the Hour happened in a much more organic way, “I’ve definitely made it differently to the last show, in that I’ve been improvising, I’ve had mates in the rehearsal room, and I’ve been coming in with dot points and ideas, and improvising stuff. Filming it, and then writing it down – which is very different from all the last shows I made which were very much – sit down, write the script, then get up and rehearse.”
This unique creation of Woman of the Hour has also allowed Joske to enlist continuous feedback throughout the development process, “It just feels a bit more alive, and I’ve been really lucky to have lots of different friends who have given up time to come and be in the rehearsal room with me. People who are theatre professionals and people who are not theatre professionals, it just means I can get so many different perspectives on the show.”
Woman of the Hour is not the only time you may seen Joske on stage during the 2019 Melbourne International Comedy Festival either – as a long term member of the improv group The Big HOO-HAA! She will be appearing during at least one of their performances during the festival. The difference between the rehearsed shows and the improvised ones were an interesting topic also with Joske noting that, “It’s a different kind of pressure, improve has less because the audience knows you didn’t prepare and that’s the magic of it. I don’t tend to get very nervous with improve – everything is disposable, everything that happens will never be seen on stage like that again.”
“Plus with The Big HOO-HAA! I’ve got five geniuses up on stage with me while with my solo show I am so responsible – if I stuff up on stage it’s really just on me.”
When chatting to Joske about her recommendations and what she was excited for during this years’ comedy festival there was a definite tone of excitement when noting her favourite comedians. “Clara Cupcakes show, really pumped for that. I’ve got some great sketch mates who are doing some amazing shows – David Massingham, and Mark Gambino are both just so witty and worth heading to see.”
If reviews from the recent Perth Fringe show are anything to go by, Woman of the Hour is a not to be missed show at this years’ comedy festival – Joske put it plainly, “It’s just a really good time – I love performing it so much. I just think that anyone who comes through the door is going to absolutely love it.”
Woman of the Hour is showing at the Butterfly Club 1st – 11th April as part of the 2019 Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Tickets can be purchased here via the comedy festival website.