Tania was a bad girl. A bad, bad girl.
She was one of the world’s first VJs which, as you can imagine, was ten times harder due to the fact she actually has a VJ.
Pretty, perky, punk, and a touch too precocious, Tania was Australia’s Paula Yates, a young woman irreverently pushing the boundaries of youth reportage and comedy. The Sunday morning princess for the 80’s ‘Wake and Bake’ pop video generation.
But like a lot of female pioneers in the creative industries she never believed it was her gender that held her back. She internalised it into something much darker.
”When #MeToo happened, I started hearing the stories and thought; Wow, that’s sexual harassment? Fuck yeah, I had that, and that, and that…”
Even though she didn’t know it at the time, Tania had it tougher than most of us. And took it even harder.
Her career ended overnight after pulling a stunt that exposed her bosses’ pay for play scandal that shut down a TV studio.
She descended into heroin addiction.
She had given up.
And it’s not surprising. At just 26-years-old, she had been dropped from not one, but two promising careers. Tania’s first love was ballet and she was heading to the heights until a drunk dance teacher dropped her – literally, smashing her hopes and her knee.
Ironically, it was her dancing that started her presenting career when she caught Molly Meldrum‘s eye and he handed her the mic on his hit show ‘Countdown’. A few weeks later she was auditioning to host a new music show.
”Getting in was easy when I was young and pretty and could jiggle my bits. Coming back to comedy after coming back to life is proving more of a challenge.”
After rehab, now clean and sober, Tania tried to resurrect her career, but it wasn’t to be. In 2000, she fell in love, married, had a son and disappeared to write. In 2015, the family set off on a new adventure and moved to Berlin.
“Sometimes it’s good to shake things up.”
Now she’s back and she’s 53. She’s still pretty, perky, and a bit punk, but her precociousness has been replaced with a wisdom that can only come from deep self-examination and a learned calm.
She’s experienced a lot and has a funny way of showing it.
But she’s 53 and expected to disappear.
Tania was prepared to start again from scratch and so signed up for a competition for those new to stand-up comedy. She’d never done stand-up before and organisers cleared her for entry.
After a 17 year break, Tania took to the stage once again, this time to tackle a whole new skillset.
The other competitors didn’t have a problem, especially because she sucked so badly at first. Tania was so unsure of her ability she snuck out of the house for those first painful rounds without telling anyone. If she was going to fail, she was going to do it silently. But with each round of the competition the mousy housewife found her punk spirit. Each round of applause healed invisible scars, and each victory made her believe she still had something people wanted to hear.
But they shut her up.
Young women, who will one day also be in their 50’s, with lives that may not have panned out as they hoped, complained that an older woman was standing in their way. As far as they were concerned, she’d had her time in the spotlight.
If only they’d stood back, they might have learned it is your life and experience that makes for great comedy. Even if Tania had never taken the stage before, they never stood a chance. This woman has been through menopause for God’s sake! Early twenties angst? Playtime in comparison. Tania knows there is no greater pathos than loss, no greater joy than the love of a child and no greater challenge than the love of a good man.
Add the hilarity of super-stardom, sex, drugs, and rock and roll, and Tania had an act that couldn’t be beaten.
Except by ageism.