Mandy Nolan has been a comedian for over three decades. As a loud mouth lefty feminist she’s long used the platform not just to make jokes, but also to champion the big issues. She’s not only a domestic violence survivor, she’s brave enough to do a joke about it. Hailed by Wil Anderson as Australia’s ‘funniest non famous comedian’ people have always asked why someone as accomplished and commanding as Nolan has never got the national cut through she deserves. Nolan blames herself ‘I dropped out and moved to Byron Bay when I was 23. Before it was cool. Then I had 5 kids. Three husbands. Then I got old. As a woman that’s not great for business.’
Nolan has delivered a TEDx talk, she’s headlined MICF Roadshow, Sydney Comedy Festival Roadshow and she’s struck comedy gold at Upfront at Melbourne’s Town Hall, to mention but a few!
Mandy Nolan has done things differently. She has taught over 2000 people stand up comedy, including Emmy winning Hannah Gadsby, her Women Like Us touring buddy and former RAW finalist Ellen Briggs and 2022 RAW winner Alexandra Hudson.
‘I love mentoring other comics, particularly women. It’s a passion of mine.’
In the Northern Rivers where she lives Mandy’s jokes are as much part of the vernacular as surfspeak. She’s authored The Soapbox, the most popular opinion piece in the region’s iconic Echo newspaper for 21 years. It’s seen her invited to pen pieces for the Sydney Morning Herald, Quarterly magazine Lunchlady, and work as one of the most in demand writers and podcast host for Mamamia. Sydney Morning Herald’s Bruce Elder called Nolan ‘the country’s sharpest and wittiest comedic columnist’. Mandy is also the author of 5 books and the mother of 5 kids. She believes her artistry is about advocacy, something you see amplified in her national touring show Women Like Us and Country Witches Association, her kick arse in your face feminist show come movement.
Oh, and Mandy also paints. ‘In her 20’s and 30’s Mandy exhibited regularly and sold out shows in Sydney and Byron Bay for over a decade. Then her performing took off and her painting has become something she does when the mood takes. “Well, the mood has taken me.”
Nolan’s work on the wall is as bold as her work on stage. In your face and uncompromising, there’s the compelling sense you just can’t look away. Taking on contemporary narratives to create her own feminist folklore.
In this latest body of work for the ‘Made You Look, Made You Stare’ exhibition, Mandy says; “Brittany Higgins and Grace Tame have become modern day feminist heroes. But their story was played out in the media – a space dominated by male interests, a place where women are worshiped in the same breath they are persecuted and demolished.
They were truth tellers. Theirs was a hero’s journey that spoke to women across the country – their most vulnerable moments laid bare. The media exposed them and tried to diminish their credibility and relevance. But it grew beyond patriarchy’s imagining. Who would have thought? Nice girls can be dangerous? It was something I wanted to capture outside of the media’s dominant and predictable narrative- to tell the story, in its contemporary mythic proportions. I’ve painted their stories as feminist folklore, found their dark spaces, their disruption and their courage.
I’ve tried to capture the moments where they’ve started to break the through. Hope, shame, rage, endurance. To fight for fairness in a system that has silenced us, we’ve been called Manhaters. A slur meant to diminish and reduce, and to shame us into submission. Nice girls don’t disrupt. But they do. My work celebrates our mythic heroes of Tame & Higgins while creating an overarching narrative I like to call ‘Eulogy for a Nice Girl’!”