Gympie comic, comedy producer and teacher Anna Brennan describes herself as ‘pro-gan’.
That means pro-bogan and she has a bogan drag act to prove it.
Her ‘drag King’ character ‘Bruce Hwy’ is loosely modelled on ‘myself, my brother and bits of every guy I’ve ever dated,’ says Anna.
Bruce is ‘single, super friendly, a hilariously shit dancer, a purple ute driver and a micro-manager of campfires’.
Anna says Bruce goes down well with audiences in Gympie and beyond and is sometimes seen at the Gympie RSL.
Bruce Hwy is not the only act on offer from Anna, the comedy producing machine.
At the end of July, she’s embarking on Light & Shady, a regional comedy tour with comedian and former Triple M radio presenter Greg ‘Sully’ Sullivan.
The tour has something for everyone with a ‘squeaky clean’ afternoon show and an 18+ audience night show.
Light & Shady, kicks off in Agnes Water Friday 28 July and finishes up in Brisbane 6 August.
Fri 28 Jul Codie’s Place at Agnes Water (both shows)
Sat 29 Jul Allenstown Hotel in Rockhampton (both shows)
Sun 30 Jul The Ambassador Hotel in Mackay (18+ Shady show only)
Mon 31 Jul Reef Gateway in Airlie Beach (both shows)
Tue 1 Aug Commercial Hotel in Clermont (both shows)
Wed 2 Aug Maraboon Tavern in Emerald (both shows)
Thu 3 Aug Biloela Hotel in Biloela (18+ Shady show only)
Fri 4 Aug Salt in Yeppoon as part of Village Festival (18+ Shady show)
Sun 6 Aug Royal Quarters in Nundah, Brisbane (Light all ages show only)
Duets collaboration one to watch
Later this year, Anna is participating in Creative Arts Gympie Region (CAGR)’s Duets Collaborations in Creativity.
It will showcase a broad cross-section of artwork and performances by professional Gympie artists.
Anna is paired with photographer Grace Martin and they will base their contributions on the theme ‘our homes and hearts are girt by gold’.
Grace is photographing and filming ten people who made Grace or Anna feel at home in Gympie. Anna is performing original poetry at an event entitled ‘GIRT’ at the Gympie RSL to complement the portraits. After the poetry there will be a karaoke competition, with a $50 RSL voucher going to the duet performance with the most heart. GIRT tickets will be for sale at Humanitix.
Another part of their Duets project is called A4. Anna and Grace are looking for emerging and established visual artists who live or work in Gympie to contribute original A4 pieces to be framed, exhibited and sold at an exhibition. The artists set the prices and the A4 is open to anyone from high school students who have never sold a piece, to artists who have exhibited in galleries. To submit, email Anna at email@example.com
Creative works and performances for Duets will be displayed in a four day event over the King’s Birthday long weekend event 29 September to 2 October across Gympie locations. Info available on the Creative Gympie Facebook page.
She lives and breathes comedy
Anna is also a comedy teacher and in April held a weekend comedy workshop in Gympie.
Her solo act Tinderella had a ten show run at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival in April.
‘She’s supremely likable, with a flair for the physically comic flourish. Her vulnerability is of the sort that is so relatable you can’t help but laugh with her, and at life in general,’ said Kate Mulqueen, of ARTS hub.
But wait there’s more! Anna’s children’s book ‘A Dragon is Coming’ is available at Berkelouw Books in Eumundi.
All this productivity receives strong support from Gympie Regional Council’s Arts and Culture team.
‘I got my first arts grant from Gympie Council,’ says Anna.
‘The arts team also contacted me during Covid to ask how council could support me to keep up momentum with my practice during the lockdowns. We developed an online comedy project. I appreciated that because some artists were stagnating and losing momentum.’
When the pandemic stopped closing venues, another opportunity came for Anna to showcase the region’s talent.
‘After council surveyed young people for Youth Week and discovered a drag act and comedy were things they wanted, council approached me to produce a drag/standup show for ages 15+ for Youth Week,’ says Anna.
The Drag Tag Comedy Show featured Brisbane drag queen LuLu LeMans, Ms Brennan as drag king Chris Spanklin and other performers. It was well attended by audiences, including young people who said they had never felt so represented and celebrated in Gympie.
Around a dozen protestors demonstrated against the drag show, but Ms Brennan said the council received 100 per cent positive feedback.
Civic support for venues and creative hubs needed
Anna says while the Gympie arts and culture scene is growing, there are frustrations about a lack of small to medium performance and exhibition venues, an issue that attracted lively discussion at Gympie Regional Council’s Arts, Community and Culture forum in July.
The forum heard a lack of venues for Gympie theatre, performance, music and creative practice was a serious deficit, worsened by delays renovating Gympie Civic Centre, which has been closed for years. Council reported flood remediation of the Civic Centre had been completed and contractors for renovations were now being evaluated.
Participants discussed repurposing private buildings as temporary creative and performance spaces and using community and memorial halls as venues. Council Arts and Culture team listened closely to the feedback which they said they would take back to council.
Anna says as an event producer she’s affected by the lack of venues.
‘What I do is create opportunities for people to perform in Gympie and around Queensland.
‘The lack of venues means I struggle, which is frustrating because the arts and cultural community here is ready to take it to the next level.
‘Creatives need tangible ways to connect with each other and with audiences. We need an arts hub where all the amazing creatives in this region can have studios, gather and have a cuppa, put on performances and exhibit and sell their art.’
Anna says though there are frustrations, she is committed to staying in Gympie ‘for the duration’.
‘I have strong family roots in Gympie and the arts culture here is welcoming and inclusive.
‘I am excited about the arts and cultural scene in Gympie and I appreciate how incredibly supported we are by Gympie Regional Council.
‘It’s heart-warming how inclusive and welcoming the community is here, although we still have some stragglers who need to be dragged into the 21st century.’
You can catch Anna’s comedy at 2 pm on Sunday 13 August at Foxy on Coolum. Tickets at www.trybooking.com/events
To book Anna Brennan go to www.facebook.com/annabrennancomedian/