Get ready to sigh heavily: both comedian Aleisha McCormack and RocKwiz's Julia Zemiro, who directs the former's Fringe show, are... only children. Yeah, we know, right? And with much poor-me relish they have prostrated themselves for a Time Out interview about this affliction. Now, where did we put that 'kick me' Post-It?
I came up with some words that popped into my head when thinking “only child”.
Julia: Here we go.
Aleisha: Please, this will be good.
Precocious, spoilt, brat, entitled….
Julia: Entitled! Tell her about the vox pops.
Aleisha: I’ve done some vox pops for the show, just recording friends and strangers on my iPhone, asking them, “First thing that comes into your head about only children.” And it's weird kids, spoilt kids, Veruca Salt...
What was the final straw that made you think your general chagrin should be made into a show?
Julia: It’s because you’ll meet people and work with them for a couple of weeks or months, then you’ll wind up having a family discussion and suddenly someone will go, “Oh… don’t you have any brothers or sisters?” and you say, “Oh no, I’m an only child.” And they go, “Oh. Oh.” There’s a face, there’s a look, and you think, “What happened there?” It’s as if people have just gotten to like you and you tell them you’re a pervert. You say, “What do you mean?” And they say, “Well you don’t seem like a… You seem very nice!”
Aleisha: I’ve got a friend in Sydney who doesn’t even say she’s an only child. She just refuses to acknowledge it because of the bullshit stereotype – you know, “Oh, you can’t share and you’re not a very nice person.”
Julia: This girl has invented a fake brother just to have something to talk about.
You're supposed to be smothered and coveted, too.
Aleisha: Julia and I weren't – quite the opposite. We had the same easy and free upbringing. Maybe because we were trusted or there hasn’t been another kid to fuck it up before us.
Does the show have a personal slant? Your previous show was all about a romance that went awry.
Aleisha: Yes. My childhood was probably not very conventional – my parents divorced, I got shunted around the world. My mum was like Cher out of Mermaids – if shit went wrong, she just moved.
I had an imaginary friend called Corey, of course because I was all about the A-list and in my head it must have been Corey Feldman. But one of the things I talk about is that we’re quite self-sufficient. I think being able to do stuff on your own, without a phone or anything, just be in your own company, is a really good skill. If some people see kids on their own playing, they think, "Oh, that’s freaky," but I think that’s a wonderful skill for a child to have.
Julia: And stimulated. I mean who wouldn’t love a kid who could sit on their own and be busy for fucks sake? Give them some pens and paper and they’re busy making stuff. And it’s like, "No, no, let’s activate them."
With more children.
Julia: In this world of over population, this concept of just having one child – quite apart from China, which is Only Child HQ – could be argued as a good thing. But no, because people go, “We were so amazing at that, I reckon we should do it again.”
Aleisha: I was on the phone to my friend the other day and we were just laughing about this. She’s got a two year old and they’re saying, "Well we just can’t have one, well that would be weird!"
Julia: Leonardo De Vinci – only child. Frank Sinatra – only child.
Are you now going to list all talented only childs?
Julia: Condoleezza Rice.
Aleisha: Chelsea Clinton.
Julia: Gina Rinehart. Ok she probably has some half brothers and sisters who are Aboriginal, but no one’s talking about that. Let’s ask the big question – was Hitler an only child?
I don’t know.
Julia:What do you think?
Julia: Well he’s not.