Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Talk About Laugh!

Angelina Hurley is studying at Tisch School of Arts at New York University on a Fullbright Scholarship to research comedy and to write a sitcom. Angelina's short comedy film released in 2009 titled 'Aunty Maggie and the Womba Wakgun' is based on a true story about Angelina’s Aunty/ Grandma Maggie Johnson as happened in the Holland Park in Brisbane in the 1950s and sparked an interest in black comedy. Angelina has contributed this piece to the Koori Mail about her adventures in researching comedy in a very chilly New York winter. See http://www.koorimail.com/

It’s a phrase used frequently used by Murries, when telling their rendition, of a funny story or event. It’s something I’ve been busting to do since I arrived in America. Time zones differences and expense are making phone calls and texts of ‘Hey sista/brotha/cuz, Talk about laugh’…..less frequent. I mean back home it can happen every couple of hours, even less. It’s the verbal precedence or ending to our form of comedic storytelling that deters us from the dysfunctional repercussions of our Aboriginal/ Indigenous lives caused by colonisation.

I’ve been spending my time in the US waiting and looking for a good belly laugh. An experience I miss from back home. Those moments of hilarity that truly manifest the acronyms LOL (Laugh Out Loud), LMAO (Laugh My Ass Off), LMRO (Laugh My Ring Out) and RALMFAO (we know what this means…right?). The moments I have with my mob on a regular basis. You know the ones, they…..

·     take you by surprise making you choke on your saliva,
·     lead you into a false sense of security while drinking only to make you spit it across the room,
·     send your body into spontaneous convulsions making you virtually mute while tears stream down your face,
·     and my favourite, cause you to just crack up laughing, breaking the sound barrier and works those abs.

I was wondering before I arrived how much my Murrie humour and sensibility would truly connect in the United States. It didn’t take long and with much glee I am glad to say there have been moments. So, ‘Hey Mob! Talk about laugh’……

A Native American Murrie – The ancestors are looking after me hey. I have reconnected with my madcrack sista from home (Brisbane, Queensland).  She was lucky enough to meet the love of her life, a Native American Apache brother (how HOT is that!) and now lives in Arizona. Apparently that journey all started with a dream. You know there had to be a Dreamtime story in there somewhere hey. Anyway, this Murrie has been away from country for over 15 years, and wouldn’t you know it, she hasn’t lost one bit of her Aboriginal English vocabulary or accent. Whichway? Can you be away for that long and still talk arse up? Answer…Yes! The inability to totally adopt the English language is embedded in your Indigenous and/or Native DNA. You also pass it down to your children. LOL! Don’t worry sis, I’ve got it too, and I swear it’s getting worse the older I get. Talk about laugh. It was the first thing we did when we reconnected (apart from cry). With her Whichways, Shard Ups, Big Dots, and WTFs she has me tears. Yep this Murrie felt quite at home sittin’ on the Rez eating fry bread and having a long overdue yarn. I giggled at how two Brisbane Murrie girls can meet up again after so long on a Rez/ Mission. Thank god for her familiar sense of humour and Facebook comments that take me by surprise, and make me choke on my saliva. Love you my sista.

New Orleans – the only thing frustrating about travelling here alone is that I don’t have one of my mob with me when something nurrigar or womba happens. I want to look straight at another countryman for that look you know. That silent conversation you have with your face. You know, it entails a lot of eye rolling, eyebrow lifting, lip biting and pursing. Mostly when you don’t want another relative to know your gossiping about them, running them down or making fun of them. It can also (depending on circumstance) be accompanied by sound eg a grunting or humming. I have one cousin back home who is the ‘Queen’ of this phenomenon. She cracks me up without speaking a word. Who would have guessed I would experience it so early in my travels. I was in a shop in New Orleans. A security guard (a brother of course) was at the door. I was standing at the checkout behind an either really drunk or drugged out Migaloo (funny that). Uncle only had to pay out $1 right, but he only had once cent pieces…..inserting immediate Qld mob reaction ‘Oh dawnt gunung gunung’. He counted those pennies out one by one. Right on cue that security guard brother and I looked at each other and that silent conversation started. Uncle took FOREVER to pay for that packet of smokes hey. While brother rolled his eyes, shook his head and smirked. I was trying to be so polite, waiting patiently at the counter biting my lips and trying not to crack up. I didn’t know where to look! At the brother, at the drunk guy, at the checkout chick, at the floor, or at the ceiling. Nothing worked. It took me two seconds to buy my bottle of water, and I slowly trailed the Migaloo out of the shop. As soon as we were outside, that Uncle opened his packet of smokes, and they flew all over the footpath. Pedestrians were squashing them. They were over the road. Traffic drove over them. I had just taken a swig of my water. I swung back around to look at brother, who, still in his security guard stance, had flung his head back and was now laughing at the ceiling. Man he made me spit my water our all over the back of that Migaloos head. OMG talk about laugh.

From Brooklyn – It is so much fun to meet someone who has a laugh bigger than life. A few people immediately come to mind. Cousin Rhonda’s roar, Uncle Ronnie’s yarndi infused cackle, Aunty Dotty, cousin Vera and my mum’s Cherbourg giggle, and Aunty Valda’s Aboriginal/ Islander style shrill. Actually, all my Aunties, which is why meeting an Aunty and Uncle here was so great. I have met some lovely people while here, but two of the best are a couple from Brooklyn. Bernard and Isadora (Isadora, what a great name). I spent a night out at Caroline’s comedy club with them in pain ie good pain. We went there to see the brilliant Mr Paul Mooney. He was hilarious enough, but sitting with these two made it an extra special event. Aunty and Uncle transported me back home. The very cool Bernard had that silent body convulsing laughter going at first. I, initially in pleasant shock did the same, but to no avail. Hence the force took over. I needed Paul to stop telling jokes and stories so I could breath. Isadora’s laugh was so joyously contagious she united everyone. We walked out of there with sore faces and stomachs. Excellent! FYI check out Paul Mooney - http://comedians.jokes.com/paul-mooney


Greer Barnes – you know the world really is a small place and we Murries, Koories, Noongars…etc will always find each other. When I first arrived in New York I met up with two sistas from home. We didn’t just catch up, we caught up for a laugh, as we do. After a couple of hours of blabbing over dinner we ended up at a Comedy Club. Enter Greer Barnes. In all honesty the only reason we went was because we saw some black fullas on the bill. How Murrie is that? I know terrible but true. Anyhow if you don’t know who brother is you should. Greer is a renown stand-up comedian with television credits including "In Living Color", "The Late Show with Carson Daly", Comedy Central's "Premium Blend", "The Late Show with David Letterman", and "Chappelle's Show". His first "Comedy Central Presents" half-hour special premiered in 2009. You may have been lucky enough to see Greer at the Melbourne Comedy Festival in 2002. It’s the story of our life that not many (good) acts make it to Australia often enough, so if you haven’t seen or heard of Greer Google him, and check him out on YouTube. His work is all over it. Man I wish the mob were there. They wouldn’t have let brother off the stage. You know how we go…’ere brother tell anuther one, come on. Just one more, one more, one more time’….then ten hours later. His impersonations and yarns were hilarious. With a sense of humour we totally related to, brother had us RALMFAO. I never want to just smile, giggle, or gammon laugh. I want to cackle, I want my stomach to hurt and I want to cry. Finally goal achieved. As our mob back home say, brother was Deadly! or in Queensland, Solid! FYI check out Greer Barnes - http://comedians.jokes.com/greer-barnes

Talk about laugh alright! Thanks to everyone above for that. :)

When I enrolled in my Doctorate of Creative Arts at the University of Technology, Sydney and then applied for the American-Australian Fulbright Commissions Indigenous Scholarship I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I am not sure everyone else did though. In March 2011 I walked across the stage to accept my Fulbright Scholarship and giggled to myself. No, it wasn’t because my mother and cousin were the only black fullas standing up in the middle of a room yelling and screaming while all the migaloos politely clapped. I was being awarded it amongst botanists, mathematicians, philosophers’, and engineers, to research comedy and write a sitcom. I must say that made me chuckle. As a black fulla you kind of go ‘Lol how did that happen?’ Now four months into the scholarship and my experience here in the United States has been amazing and overwhelming. Comedy venues galore, amazing performers and artists, wonderful teachers and lecturers. What better place to be than New York. I couldn’t ask for more.

PS. You know Murrie might not be this happy when the snow and the minus temperatures hit. I am from Queensland you know.

Angelina is in the United States until the end of 2012 thanks to wonderful support and assistance of the following:

·     The University of Technology, Sydney (the Faculty of Arts and Science and Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning)
·     The Australian-American Fulbright Commission.
·     Tisch School of Arts at New York University (especially Associate Professor Mr Paul Thompson)
·     The lovely Ms Lisa Fox.
·     Berkley University, San Francisco (Professor Patricia Hilden and Professor Shari Huhndorf)

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  1. I love it Ange.. You are a fab writer.. Can picture you cackling in those clubs and really makes me want to be there and share it.. one day..

    deb xxx

  2. Hey Angelina - this is great!

  3. Great to see it sister! Keep it up girl.

    Ian RT Colless

  4. Poor old fella with the cigarettes!!!

  5. 2 deadly cuz...talk about laugh! Sounds like ur havin fun & doing very well. I'll show mum ur blog when I get home this arvo...

  6. Hey A, read your blog when you first sent it but slack murrie didn't respond straight away. When I read you blogs it's like I'm there in situ while you're telling your stories. Funnier still is that when i'm reading your material it re-earths (is that such a word) some of my own funny experiences and memories when I've been with our mob - you seriously cannnot put a $ on black fulla humour....it's an unpsoken language, the hmmmh and nodding of the head, the rolling of the eyes and the look speaks volumes without almost a word exchanged...i was thinking of a time where I was at a work 'warmy and fuzzy' workshop and there was a group of us murries with about 20 migaloos and we all had to move into groups...each group was assigned a certain icon, ie yellow square, red triangle, blue diamond...so the facilitator looks at our group and ever so loudly says "this group, if you could go and stand over near the 'big black dot"....needless to say for the next 10 minutes laughter, sniggering,hilarity but worse still not a soul apart from the 'big black dot' group understood what the hell was going on....can't say the facilitator or the remaining group were impressed....this was serious stuff apparently but little didn't they know.
    Keep up the blogs Ange, i enjoy reading them:)

  7. It's cool Sheila! You sound as if you're having a great time - all that comedy!! Love it!

  8. Favourite line in the whole article: "I never want to just smile, giggle, or gammon laugh. I want to cackle, I want my stomach to hurt and I want to cry." Beautiful.

  9. Great stuff and lots of laughs.

  10. Read your blog too deadly!

  11. LMFAO @ wombaworld blog...you real cracked! Lub it!

  12. LOLd at the poor dude with the money and ciggies. I wouldn't know where to look either without wanting to cackle. :-)