Kate Dehnert is the least well known recipient of the 2016 Moosehead grant, but potentially the most excited. Fresh off the back of her successful 2015 Melbourne International Comedy Festival Show Pony Yell, Dehnert flushed with enthusiasm for her new show Shabamalam and the support that Moosehead provides. “My director is Colin Lane!” she says, eyes gleaming. “I don’t think I’m cool. I’ve always done my own thing, and they [Lano & Woodley] did that too. Theirs turned out great! Let’s see about mine…” While Dehnert’s material is often far more absurd than Lane’s, the central structure is often similar, with narrative heavy shows flecked with break out moments of weirdness. “Colin is so generous. It’s amazing to have some to bounce off, someone who’s been there.” That Moosehead takes care of the venue, the publicity and the production leaves Dehnert free to make the most of the opportunity. “I’m learning better ways to handle things, how to be more professional.”
Dehnert is already quite professional. When asked how the show is going, she’s hesitant to answer, in case the interview comes out close the festival. “It’s developing well. It’s up in the air at the moment, and it’s always a bit up in the air, because if you think of something amazing the day before you open you’re not going to throw it away” Dehnert says, but she’s not banking on any last minute ideas.
Shabamalam is still features space. She’s not quite sure why it is that space is such a recurring topic in her comedy, but she definitely likes it. “Why do we like the things that we do?” Dehnert muses. “Some people like Pomeranians, I like space. I also like Pomeranians, don’t get me wrong.” Shabamalam is so named because it’s something like what Dehnert imagines the sound of an asteroid hitting the earth to be, and that’s something that happens in the show. She’s not too keen on giving away anything else about the story though. “Shabamalam is such a noisy word. Plus it just keeps going. You’ve got that initial ‘shabam!’ and then an extra ‘alam’. It’s a great sounding word.” As with Pony Yell, there will be a large amount of sound design going on both onstage and behind the scenes.
The show will be silly, she insists. “Incredibly silly! Full of fun!” she pauses “but it won’t be optimistic. I want people to have a break from their shitty lives. There’s a big element of ‘gee wiz, everyone’s dead!’” Ridiculously morose, then. Dehnert frowns and thinks for a moment. “That didn’t sound mean, did it? The ‘shitty lives’ comment? I don’t want to be mean. I have a shitty life too, it’s okay!” She laughs.
Shabamalam is on in the ACMI Games Room at 8:15pm from 24th of March until the 17th of April as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.