Leaning In

Studio One – enter via Refinery ArtSpace, 114 Hardy Street, Nelson

22/03/2024 - 22/03/2024

Nelson Fringe Festival 2024

Production Details

Host: Aimée Borlase
Comedians: Sarah O'Connell, Troubadette, Molly Wilkin

Nothing Linear

A stand-up comedy show highlighting some of the funniest people in Nelson and beyond, who all just happen to not be men! Starring Aimée Borlase, Molly Wilkin, Troubadette and Sarah O’Connell.

Leaning In features four very clever women:

Aimée Borlase – part-time Nelsonian. Aimée is a classic millennial triple threat (comedian-singer-executive assistant). Despite her vast stage experience, she is often most celebrated for her typing speed and ability to keep houseplants alive.
Molly Wilkin – former Nelsonian. Molly has hit the comedy scene at full speed, coming in second at the Good Times Comedy Club Fresh Competition 2023, and impressing everyone with her dark humour, wild tangents, and dynamic energy.
Troubadette – possible future Nelsonian. In the 12th century, troubadours sang songs of chivalry to noble families. In the 21st century, Troubadette sings songs of bikini waxing and dismemberment to anyone who’ll listen.
Sarah O’Connell – current Nelsonian. Sarah is a mainstay of the Nelson comedy scene, ready to Sarahsplain the ups and downs of life to you.

Fri 22 March at 6:00pm
One Night Only
Venue: Studio One, Nelson
Tickets: $16 + bf

Comedy , Theatre ,

55 Minutes

Highlights the strengths and hilarity of female performers

Review by Wesley Hollis 23rd Mar 2024

In the male dominated world of comedy, we are often left wanting for a different perspective. Too often female voices are squashed – we’re lucky to get one or two women on the line up. Luckily, tonight Leaning In promises a full line up of female comedians.

The show is held at Studio One, entered through the Refinery Artspace on Hardy Street. It stars Aimée Borlaise, Molly Milkin, Sarah O’Connell and musical talent Troubadette. It’s clear I’m not the only one seeking out this event – tickets are sold out and for the first time at this Nelson Fringe I struggle to find a seat as I wait for the show to start. 

Aimée Borlaise is tonight’s MC, taking to the stage with some unfortunate news to start the show. Troubadette is ill and can’t make it to Nelson to perform. But we are promised we will still have some music during the show, and Aimée gets the crowd to help her film a heartwarming message wishing Troubadette well.

Aimée is a relaxed and charming MC, able to quickly warm the crowd up with off the cuff jokes and a story about her travels to Nelson. The audience interaction is fun and light-hearted. It gets the crowd joining in together so nobody feels uncomfortable or isolated. Aimée is good at ensuring the order of the night runs smoothly and keeping the energy up during the night, between acts. She is always able to maintain the audience’s attention yet never steals the spotlight from the other acts of the night: the mark of a good MC. I particularly enjoy the song she sings with Molly Wilkin, featuring a ukulele and some adult material, fulfilling the promise that even without Troubadette we still get to experience a little bit of musical magic.

Molly Wilkin is the first standup act. Straight away, I love Molly’s energy – quirky, bubbly and exuberant. She brings up some interesting topics I’ve never heard discussed before, attacking them with clever abstract thinking. There is more relatable content as well, still delivered with Molly’s unique perspective. She talks about family, personal life and the struggles to make friends when you’re an introvert. She jumps quickly from subject to subject – I would love to see some of her bits developed more fully, so we can hear what other interesting things she has to say on a topic before moving on. Nevertheless, I enjoy her tangents and she has strong punchlines, good throwaway lines as well, and knows how to end her set with a big laugh.

Sarah O’Connell is the next act. Anybody who has been to a comedy show in Nelson is likely to know that Sarah is a staple of the local comedy scene. It’s easy to see why – she commands a confident presence on stage with jokes that are simple but highly effective. She opens with a good wordplay joke and continues with ‘dirty’ humour, stories about her personal life and how to troll retail businesses (something anyone who has worked in retail will enjoy). While she seems to lose her train of thought once or twice, she manages to recover and deliver what is overall a strong set. I envy Sarah’s ability to be incredibly funny, seemingly without even having to try, though it is clear that a lot of hard work has gone into making Sarah the accomplished comedian she is.

With the line up being all women, I had wondered if the show would have a strong feminist streak to it. Tonight clearly is a feminist triumph in that it highlights the strengths and hilarity of female performers, and the show does have a social justice angle. One thing that is brought up is how difficult it can be for female comedians to make their voices heard in a male dominated industry. Leaning In is a reminder to us all that female comedians are hilarious and, yes, a woman’s presence on stage is one that has been earned with laughter and applause.

Every single performer tonight has proved that this is a show worth selling out. The only disappointing thing is how short the runtime is, at about 45 minutes long. Part of this will be because Troubadette is missing, but even with Troubadette I feel sets could have been longer. I’ve enjoyed the song Aimée and Molly sang so much that I wouldn’t have minded seeing another added in for some more variety.

Where can I catch the amazing talent on tonight’s line up, I hear you ask? Firstly, though Troubadette was not present tonight, I have seen her perform before and can attest to the fact that she is well worth seeing, particularly if you are a fan of musical theatre. Troubadette is based in Christchurch, but I saw her perform in Wellington, so if you’re elsewhere in the country keep an eye out in case she is coming your way. 

Aimée is a part-time Nelsonian, so keep an eye out for her around town. It’s not too late to see her at this year’s Fringe as well – she is performing on 23 March at Studio One yet again, in a show called (Not) Cancelled.

Molly Wilkin is also performing in one more Nelson Fringe show – she can be found at the Red Door Theatre performing in Up Late Cabaret. Be quick to grab tickets for this one – they’re selling fast.

Sarah O’Connell performs in many stand up shows around Nelson. If you’re keen to know more about her and the Nelson comedy scene, check out the Nelson Comedy Collective on Facebook. Sarah is also a great person to know if you’re interested in breaking into comedy on the Nelson scene yourself.


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