To look at Julia Morris, it seems unbelievable that she was first on television in 1985. But 27 years later, she’s as strong a presence on Australian TV as she’s ever been, appearing in Nine’s House Husbands, and winning the first series of Celebrity Apprentice. Riding high on that success, she returns to Melbourne in November, with a new standup show, titled No Judgment. No judgment?
"Well, I do love to judge things,” says Morris, “but in the last 12 months, I’ve tried not to judge as much. Honestly though, it’s a loose title, and the show is more about things that I’ve recently been delighted by… and infuriated by.”
Filming a ‘dramedy’ like House Husbands then following it with a comedy tour must provide some sharp contrasts between acting and standup, surely?
“With comedy, it’s all your responsibility,” says Morris. “With acting, you have up to 75 people around you that are there to help and make sure you can do the best job you can. Standup is more a Robinson Crusoe effort. They’re incredibly different in what you receive back instantly. With comedy, when the laugh is there, the job is done, and that’s fantastic. With drama, I don’t know if there’s any real way of knowing if you’ve done well or not. And it’s been a really refreshing change, not always having to be the funny one.”
So, can drama be as enjoyable, without the instant reaffirmation from the audience? Morris confirms. “I definitely enjoyed it as much. I reckon it’s been the experience of my lifetime. The crew were hilarious, so it had the same vibe as comedy, where I was mucking around all day, even though we were working our arses off in 16 or 17 hour days.
Morris is a winner. She also won the 2008 season of It Takes Two, a celebrity-based sing-off. Does she have a competitive edge over your garden-variety celebrity, or is it something else? “I think it’s just not taking myself too seriously,” Morris shrugs. “And on both of those shows, it wasn’t talent that got me all the way to the end. It was exactly the same as what happened to me at school, when the principal said to my parents, 'Julia has slipped through the system.' And it helped that I learned when to be quiet. Which has never been my strongest point.”
But it’s a few days after the wrap party for House Husbands, and Morris is again focused on comedy, and returning to old stomping grounds. “I’m really looking forward to performing again at the Athenaeum. I’ve done all sorts of shows in there over the years. I lived there for so long, it’ll be great to come back and give my Melbourne crowds a big cuddle.”