Nina Oyama, one of Australia’s newest comedians will be performing at the 2019 Melbourne International Comedy Festival (MICF) with her debut solo stand-up show Nina Oyama Needs A Lift. With a regular spot on Tom Ballard’s Tonightly show and appearances in the ABC’s show Utopia, Nina has packed a lot into her young comedy career thus far.
In an interview with Rabelais Magazine, she was very casual with what is one of the best comedy gigs in Australia, the MICF:
“[Getting a spot in the MICF] isn’t very hard. It’s not curated so… I probably shouldn’t say that. I can make it sound much bigger than it is?” So, after what she then described as ten gruelling years of comedy school, Nina got a spot in the 2019 MICF.
Her show got its name (Nina Oyama Needs A Lift) after she found it hard to stay out of trouble as a young person who had moved from Sydney to Bathurst in her early twenties, “I moved to the country and did a lot of speeding, I got pulled over by the cops. A lot. And growing up and figuring stuff out while also getting in a lot of trouble with the law.”
That trouble with the law includes losing her license four times and raking up a huge debt to the government through fines and a notably large Christmas Day fine where she was caught 40 km over the speed limit.
An autobiographical style show, Nina draws from real life experiences when performing her routine. It begins with her talking about her first speeding fine after she just got her license. She believes that this one of the best styles of stand-up comedy: “I also love when you tell stories that are autobiographical and true, and I think that makes them more interesting, rather than the outright fictionalised show.”
“I really liked Alexis Dubus, he also does Marcel Lucont, he does this awesome kind of spoken words story a few years ago at the Tuxedo Cat which is really amazing called Girls in Cars… and also Corey White’s show, The Cane Toad are all kind of shows that I think have really come from a special place.”
Nina seems engrossed in the comedy scene. The scene that she is now a part of, but she still has high praise for people that are now her peers. She has fond memories of visiting the comedy festival as a teenager:
“I just remember being so starstruck. During comedy festivals, comedians that you watch on the TV are just wandering the city, it’s very surreal and I remember going ‘oh my god, I just watched Marc Maron’s show and here he is drinking coffee’ and it blew my mind.
“So, it’s really crazy being a comedian myself and being, well, that comedian that drinks a coffee and maybe people will go ‘oh that person’s a comedian’.”
Following the MICF, Nina will continue to work on a show she is working on, The Angus Project that has a pilot on ABC iView which, holding true to her preference for true stories, follows the life of Angus a 20-year old with cerebral palsy and his hopeless carer Erika (played by Nina).
“And it’s based on my real friendship with Angus, who plays Angus which is good to see an actor with cerebral palsy actually play someone with cerebral palsy for once. But it’s based on our real friendship when we were in Bathurst, we used to get up to all kinds of crazy stuff and we want to change people’s perception of disabilities with the show, so I’m really looking forward to working with that after the comedy festival.”
Nina Oyama Needs a Lift will be showing at the MICF in the Ladies’ Lounge at The Forum beginning on March 28th with the final show on April 21
Maybe you will see her drinking a coffee around Melbourne and think ‘hey, that’s the comedian I’ve seen on TV’
Photo: Courtesy of Hot Off the Press publicity