After a two-year hiatus, Sydney Fringe season is upon us again, and this year I want to interview as many up-and-coming artists and theatre makers as I can.
My first fringe interview is Jack Francis West, an actor, comedian and cabaret artist, who is the writer and star of My Mum Died and I Wanna Sing About It, which is playing at Sydney Fringe next week, produced by Little Triangle. We hopped on zoom to chat about touring this very personal show, and how Jack uses the disarming power of comedy to explore grief on stage.
Please note, this interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
Hey Jack! Tell us about your show.
My show is called My Mum Died and I Wanna Sing About it, and the title tells you everything you need to know! It’s about my mom dying, and then I sing about it. It’s kind of stand-up comedy meets a musical cabaret meets an extended monologue/Ted Talk about death, parents and grief.
Why should people come see your show?
Well, the first time I put it on (in 2021), I had no gauge of how an audience might respond to it. So, I didn’t really know the power that it had. But then night after night, people would message me after the show, thanking me and sharing with me all these really beautiful stories about their own experiences of grief and their families and death.
And they thanked me for creating a space that was really safe and funny and cathartic. I think that catharsis is really special. It’s the kind of special experience you can only get through the way that comedy makes an audience feel comfortable. And I think that’s the real strength of the show—the environment, the atmosphere it creates.
Who is the ideal audience for this show?
My ideal audience is honestly the Dead Mum Club. Shout out if your mom is dead— Come see my show! You’ll love it. It’ll be awesome. (Laughs)
But other than that, this show is genuinely for everyone. It resonates with people of different ages in different ways.
I think older people who will have lost their parents at an older age, will understand the experiences with a little more wisdom—probably more wisdom than I have considering I’m only 23!
But then like young people… I want young people to see the show because I always try to impart on people to treat their family and their mothers better. I think it’s an important show for anyone to see who has parents, because I think it provides a valuable perspective to re-evaluate your own relationship with your parents that you might later reflect on after they’re gone. And I’m all about giving people that advanced foresight into treating their parents a little kinder and creating memories actively that you’ll want to look back on before they’re gone.
And (this show is for) anyone who wants to experience catharsis and explore grief, and is interested in that stuff—which is the human experience.
Has the show been performed before?
Yes, it was performed at the SUDS summer season in 2022. I pitched for just a little three-day development season and it was sold out and very successful, which is why I’m here again. If it wasn’t successful, I probably wouldn’t run it again. (Laughs)
And, are there plans to perform it again after this?
Yes, absolutely. I’m taking it to Melbourne Fringe on October 15th at Theatre Works.
And then we’re going to come back to Sydney and do another little season of it towards the end of the year before we go to Perth Fringe next year, then Brisbane, then Adelaide.
Is this all with Little Triangle?
No, it’s just this Sydney run with Little Triangle, and then I have this producer in Melbourne whose helping me. And then I’m just going to latch onto all my little theatre freaks across the nation to help me put this on in different cities!
So, I’m just touring it around all the Fringes—Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane, Adelaide—until March next year.
That’s so exciting!
I know, right. It’s kind of freaky, but I just want to see what different forms the show can take. Ideally the dream is—after I tour it nationally—to take it to Edinburgh Fringe. And then I’m going to have three rosés in a theatre foyer and meet a Netflix executive, and I’m going to get a Netflix special.
And that’s the five year plan!
My Mum Died and I Wanna Sing About It is showing at Sydney Fringe Festival this September as part of Little Triangle’s Musical Chairs: A Cabaret Series. Tickets can be purchased here.
- Tuesday 6 September, 9:30pm
- Thursday 8 September, 6:30pm
at Sydney Fringe Cabaret Club (Castlereagh Boutique Hotel)
- 24 September 2:30pm
at Riverside Theatres Parramatta
Interview by Jo Bradley