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Psychiatrist turned award winning comedian debuts at NZ Fringe

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellingtonian Joanna Prendergast returns home to perform her debut solo comedy show "The Cool Mum" at New Zealand Fringe Festival. Joanna grew up in Karori, attending St Theresa’s primary and Marsden for high school. Now living in Christchurch, Joanna has been performing her show around the South Island since mid 2020. The show won Best Solo Show and Audience Favourite Show at The Nelson Fringe Festival in August 2020. Jo has recently been nominated for Breakthrough Comedian SI at the New Zealand Comedy Guild Awards.

"The Cool Mum" is a parody of a celebrity parenting seminar. Joanna’s persona, Jo Ghastly, developed from how she thinks her teenage children see her: embarrassing, trying to be cool and failing miserably. The show parodies how people believe all sorts of rubbish, just because it’s delivered by a charismatic celebrity.

Joanna takes her day job as a private psychiatrist very seriously, especially around professional boundaries and respecting mental health. For this reason, she performs comedy as a persona/character and avoids jokes about mental health content in her comedy. Her comedy mainly focuses on parenting challenges and observations of life. Most of the content is light hearted jokes but there are some truthful, take-home messages about parenting and life in the show. The material from "The Cool Mum" derives from her own parenting experience with her two teenage children.

Joanna started as a stand-up comedian at 48 years old and has found the comedy scene supportive as a middle-aged, female comedian. She sees her gender and age as advantages as she brings diversity to comedy line-ups and a different voice to comedy. Joanna’s material is enjoyed by a wide age group as she references content that is very relatable to young people as well as people her own age and older. "I have been a performer since I was a child but decided to go to Medical School rather than Drama School. A comedy producer suggested I try standup comedy when I was acting in a TV show pilot a few years ago. Standup comedy is most people's biggest fears but I like a challenge so gave it a go 3 years ago and haven't stopped since. It's an amazing feeling to have a room of people, having a great time and laughing at your jokes. People particularly liked my Cool Mum comedy material, and it was relatable to all ages, so I decided to develop my solo show around that theme".

In 2018, Joanna placed third in the South Island Raw Comedy Quest, a nationwide quest for new comedy talent. She has also twice been comedy Roast Battle Champion. She has performed in pro shows at New Zealand’s premier comedy club, The Classic in Auckland. Joanna won 3 awards at the 2019 Christchurch Comedy Carnival.

The Cool Mum is being performed 7pm March 11-13 at Cavern Club 22 Allen Street Wellington.

"Fabulous…..A stellar show"- Backstage Christchurch

"Hilarious" - Theatreview "I wish you were my mum" - Most comedians

"I wish you weren’t my mum" - Joanna’s kids

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