One year ago, I sat down with my first ever Resident interviewee, Alice Brine (if you want the basics on Brine, click here).
We talked about many things, from comedy to growing up in the Hutt. For 'The Residents' first proper blogiversarry I decided to ‘Go Ask Alice’ again - for a special one-off repeat interview to celebrate.
“I have no recollection of what I’ve been doing in the past 12 months” Alice explains over peppermint tea and curly fries at Sweet Mother’s Kitchen on a trip back down from Auckland. “It all just goes and goes and goes and goes!”
Since November 2015, Alice has gone on to do many things, including dying her hair pink and moving to Auckland to seek more comedy opportunities. She was a Billy-T nominee and this year supported UK comedian Alan Carr at the Opera House in Wellington. It has been a blur.
“After being nominated for a Billy T award and getting into the Comedy Festival, I was like ‘Shit, okay, I’m a Billy T nominee. How do I sell tickets to my comedy shows’”
When we last spoke, Alice had just taken over as producer of ‘The Watercooler’, a live storytelling event. She was also producing the much loved ‘Lip-sync Battles’ with her burlesque pal, Bailey McCormack (Fanciforia Foxglove). This was just the beginning, though, of a jam-packed 2016.
Won't Quit Her Day Job
In her day job, which is still at Xero, Alice has moved from the computer programming team to the social media team and is now the digital media team. “I’m working on Xero’s podcast at the moment behind the scenes of business owners” she explains. “I won’t be putting my face on that podcast because my personal brand and Xero are very different. Behind the scenes, I’m good at finding what part of the conversation is really good to dive into and dig up. It’s taken me a long time to get my hands on this project so I’m excited to be working on it.” Despite working full-time, she still has crammed this year full of events.
Produce Produce Produce!
One of the higher profile events Alice produced in 2016 outwardly had nothing to do with comedy. Yet it all started from her need to sell tickets to her show.
“After being nominated for a Billy T award and getting into the Comedy Festival, I was like ‘Shit, okay, I’m a Billy T nominee. How do I sell tickets to my comedy shows’” Alice explains. “So I decided ’You know what, I’ll just come up with something so I can flyer.’”
Alice decided to get literal - literally, literal. She had previously named a show ‘The Comedy Shows With Good Comedians In It’ so decided to make ‘The Big Dog Walk With Lots of Dogs’. “I thought a couple of hundred people may be interested,” she says.
“People are really over snazzy marketing campaigns.”
Instead, 'The Big Walk with Lots of Dogs' spread to 26 thousand people worldwide with different events popping up. “Within, like, half an hour I knew it wasn’t just going to be like friends and family. It was 3000 people. So I got in Bailey. There was also an Auckland event and there was so much media coverage. Between the two there were 12,000 people and we raised about $10,000 for HUHA and Chained Dog.”
So why did it make people go so crazy? “People just loved the name” Alice explains, “People are really over snazzy marketing campaigns.”
On the back of the publicity around ‘The Big Dog Walk for Lots of Dogs’ and her successful Comedy Festival show, ‘Brinestorm’, Alice started to get more opportunities in Auckland, making a name for herself in the big smoke. She was constantly flying between Wellington and Auckland.
“So I got to the point where I was like ‘I’m just going to have to move up there.’ It’s cheaper for me to live up there and fly back down. I moved up there start of June 2016,” Alice explains. Before long, Alice was on TV comedy show ‘7 Days’ and had started auditioning for and landing gigs for voice-over work.
Going Viral - Again
This Winter, Alice was in international headlines after publishing a Facebook status that broke new viral limits. In the post, she made an analogy between consent in cases of rape and going into someone’s house and stealing things when they were drunk. It lit up the internet.
“I was out at a Che Fu gig, and all of a sudden I was on BuzzFeed, and then I got emails from ‘the Daily Mail’ in London"
Alice explains that she wrote the post because she was just sick of reading the same headline “over and over again on so many different pieces of news. Just the same headline and the same victim blaming.” It was an analogy that people wanted to hear, at the right time. “Globally at the moment it’s a massive issue. So many people are so sick of reading that same headline as I was” Alice says.
Interest grew to feverish heights. Alice explains how when the post reached around 98,000 shares on Facebook she began to get calls from media. “I was out at a Che Fu gig, and all of a sudden I was on BuzzFeed, and then I got emails from ‘the Daily Mail’ in London, ‘Babe’, and ‘Cosmo’” she remembers. At last count, the post had been shared around 250,000 times on Facebook.
A highlight this year for Alice, however, was supporting Alan Carr on his New Zealand tour for Christchurch and Wellington. Alice explains that an agency representing Carr in Australia and New Zealand attended to her show at the Comedy Festival. Much later she got a text asking to open for Carr at the Christchurch Theatre Royal and the Opera House in Wellington.
“It was magic. I didn’t really mention it to people beforehand on social media, like “Yay I’m so excited I get to do this!” It was just something that was happening” Alice says. She notes that Carr went out of his way to make her feel included, inviting her to dinner with the crew. However, Alice’s heart was captured by performing at the Wellington Opera House. “Performing at the Opera House is amazing. It’s so good. I feel like nothing is going to compare to that first time you do it. It was a sold out house and the crowd is just so supportive. It was the greatest 20 minutes in my entire life.”
Looking to the future, Alice feels that she has more to do and that those things are bigger than anything she’s done yet to date. “I think what I’m in for is some really tough times ahead. I’m not going to have everything come this easy to me. I think I want to be able to calm down enough to look at the things I’m doing and appreciate them. That’s a big goal of mine - not even career wise but brain wise: calming down and looking at what I’m doing and being like ‘Look, that’s good man you’re doing all good!’ I need to think about myself as 18-year-old Alice and that right now I would be just blowing her mind. I always forget to think about 18-year-old Alice but she would be stoked as, but I just can’t picture her or remember her properly and it sucks because it's important.”
“Your brain is completely changing and there’s so much learning. It’s pretty full on”
What tips would Alice give to aspiring comedians? “The most important thing for you to do is doing heaps and heaps of stand-up, as much as you can. I’d suggest writing new stuff, having a terrible time and being the worst comedian ever. Stretch your voice and become better at what you’re doing. The big exciting things come along as well but it’s more important to just write a really good hour.”
Behind the Changes in the Brinestorm Brain
Even though people look less different as we age, Alice thinks the way we do from 5 to 10, we are changing just as significantly in our 20’s and 30’s. “Your brain is completely changing and there’s so much learning. It’s pretty full on” So has Alice changed since my first interview with her? “ I think I’m different from a year ago. I’ve learnt some important shit. Some people are generally just not nice people. I just see the best in people and then I talk to them for a little bit and I’m just like maybe you’re a dick. I’ve also learnt that there’s a lot of people out there who aren’t going to like you and that’s okay. I get people commenting the weirdest shit on my social media and I just roll my eyes at it. When someone comments something that’s completely out of line I’m like ‘Nah, you’re wrong’ and just leave it. Like, if someone writes this big long paragraph that’s just so wrong I’ll say something like, ‘You’re a fucking moron Michael’, and that’s all I’ll write. And then they’ll comment all these things back and I just don’t even read them. People write crazy shit.”
“Everyone’s like “you’re doing so well and you’re achieving all these great things” but I’m still very much up and coming”
Alice tries to keep herself grounded every step of the way. “Everyone’s like “you’re doing so well and you’re achieving all these great things” but I’m still very much up and coming” she says “I’m planning on going really hard on some big things and not so much the little stuff. My advice to everybody is to stop putting so much pressure on yourself and just calm the fuck down. Stop thinking about what you could’ve done with your life instead of what you’re doing with your life. Just do your life and go for a walk. Just calm down. Just exist. Do not dream big.” And with that, Alice and I go our separate ways.
Your my Inspiration...
A few days later, Alice has produced some mocked up ‘Inspirational’ quotes on exactly what she expressed above saying things such as ‘It’s ok to sit for a while and do nothing’ and ‘ Don’t forget to eat lunch’. While not quite viral, the posts have nevertheless proved above-average popular on Facebook, with people tagging friends who need some advice (including me). Alice has a knack of expressing, on the internet and in life, what everyone else is thinking. I remember what she says when I asked her, expecting a statement of pride or greatness about what she’s made of 2016? “It’s all just stepping stones, just moving chess pieces at the right time. I don’t really look at anything as being big or not big, I just try and be a good stand-up comedian.”