ITS Bec Melrose
Bec is a comedian and writer from Sydney. After taking out RAW Comedy in 2018, Bec went on to place third in So You Think You’re Funny at the Edinburgh Fringe and was selected to appear in Comedy Zone at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.
Bec has written for Tonightly with Tom Ballard and has featured on Comedy Bites, Triple J’s Good Az Friday, Nova’s Hits & Giggles, Audible’s Comedy Up Late and has opened for Wil Anderson.
Bec trained at Improv Theatre Sydney and performs with improv troupe Post-Its and Cleo & The Kweens.
Her Grandma Helen is a regular at all her shows.
What was your impression of the Sydney comedy scene before you became a member of it?
I was pretty enamoured by the comedy scene. I used to go out and see comedy a lot and when I found the Giant Dwarf it became a second home! I’ve always loved comedy and I was really excited by what was happening in Sydney and especially at the Giant Dwarf. I wanted to give sketch writing a go, so I thought I’d go and try out a class but everywhere I looked had a prerequisite of Level 1 improv. I’d seen Whose Line but I didn’t really know much about improv until I enrolled and got sucked into a vortex from which I have not yet emerged. It’s a lovely vortex, mind.
What is your impression of the scene now? e.g Do you feel welcome at comedy rooms and open mics? Do you think the scene encourages diversity?
I’ve felt very welcomed everywhere I’ve been. I’ve met so many great people and it’s been a pleasj (pleasure) really. There’s still quite a way to go in terms of building diversity but it’s encouraging to see so many rooms, and of course ITS itself, taking a proactive approach. I think there are some exemplary champions of diversity out there and they are really leading the way. Laura Hart at ITS, Cleo and the Kweens, and the team running What She Said are obvious hat tips here, they are absolute legends. I think they have given people who had a little tickle inside to want to try comedy but would never have fronted up to an open mic, a platform to try comedy in an encouraging space. And their support doesn’t end at their room, they turn up to solo shows and help out wherever they can.
What influence did improv have on your solo work?
Improv was my introduction to the comedy scene. As soon as I joined ITS, I just found my people! I sent a text to a friend after my first class–this is so cheesy, I’m blushing–I said “This is going to change my life. I don’t know how yet, but I just have a feeling!” and it bloody did! Before I joined ITS I didn’t now anyone doing comedy, so meeting people who were doing all this cool stuff gave me an insight into how it’s all done and it also introduced me to a sweet little team of people to work with. Having a skill base in improv has been so incredibly valuable in everything I’ve done since. For me, improv has been like training with a medicine ball. If you can think on your feet, really listen to an audience and your fellow players and build something from nothing in the heat of the moment, a lot of that fear of the unknown on stage falls away. In fact, sometimes now I find myself chasing those moments, knowing that it’s when something unexpected happens that the audience are really on the edge of their seats. It was for the first time when I did my solo show this year, that I relished those moments of mistakes or unexpected audience interactions because being able to sit in those moments and react with control really made the show.
Why do you think a lot of funny women begin their comedy careers in improv?
I’m not sure why women begin their comedy careers in improv but there’s no doubt it’s a solid foundation for anyone. In improv you’re working closely with a group of people and together you’re trying and failing and a lot of your own ego and defense mechanisms have to crumble if you want to be a good team player. That’s tough and it’s a really vulnerable position to be in. I think that’s why improv troupes bond so quickly and solidly and I really owe the confidence I’ve built to get up on my own and try comedy in other forms, to the people I’m lucky enough to improvise with.