Comedian rallies to offer laughs
CELIA Pacquola isn't in much of a joking mood at the moment, so she's pouring all of her energy into dancing.
The comedian and actor never imagined a bit of silly fun on Dancing With The Stars would take on so much meaning during the coronavirus crisis.
With so many Australians cooped up at home, she hopes she can provide a bit of relief from the doom and gloom during her 90 seconds on the dancefloor.
"I just want to dance, but unfortunately the world wants to apocalypse instead," she says. "Weirdly, being a contestant on a reality dance television show is the most relaxing part of my life right now. I love that I am trying to learn how to tango rather than thinking about it.
"I can't wait until it (the pandemic) is funny and it will be, but right now it just keeps seeming to get worse.
"What I am doing is jokes about dancing and me trying to dance. My job is to dance over here and do a flip and distract you. More and more it feels like the world needs to see a 37-year-old comedian learning to do a flip in three days and then doing it on live TV."
Dancing has been filming without a studio audience for the past two weeks and this past Sunday, self-isolated duo Christian Wilkins and Lily Cornish performed their routines on a hotel rooftop.
The reality show's grand final has been moved forward to this Sunday. Celia will compete against Christian, fellow comedian Ed Kavalee and actor Claudia Karvan for the mirrorball trophy.
"Having no audience was fine when I was dancing because I was concentrating so hard, but for me it was worse because there was no one to laugh at my jokes," she says.
"It just made everyone come together. We knew it was going to be weird but it felt important which is so ridiculous.
"It's two hours of engaging with each other about something dumb and bright and silly, and not something else."
With the closure of venues forcing the cancellation of tent-pole events like the Melbourne and Sydney comedy festivals, Celia says her fellow comedians are doing it tough.
"I'm devastated. Our industry doesn't exist right now," she says. "What we would normally do is put on a benefit show and we can't do that.
"Those festivals are when people in our industry make most of their money; that's when the hard work pays off.
"Comedy will come back; it's not dead. But the one thing we need to do our job is a crowd, and as soon as we can have crowds again is when we need people to buy a ticket and turn up. Make a pledge to go double; if you usually go to one show, see two."
In the meantime, Amazon Prime Video is streaming 10 stand-up specials by Aussie comedians to lift spirits. Celia's All Talk starts the series on April 10.
"It's about my life in 2017, at the time when the biggest thing in the world was the #metoo movement - if you can remember that," she says.
"I love this show. There are some dating stories and dumb fun but there's also some darker moments about mental health. There's a lot of vulnerable stuff in there, just personal about me that I never thought I would ever say publicly but I needed to."
The Dancing With The Stars finale airs Sunday at 7.30pm on Ten/WIN.