Mel Buttle, comedian, Brisbane Comedy Festival

Fabio made hay while the sun was shining, I’m not better than a butter commercial either. Devondale, call me!

When it comes to multi-hyphenate comedians, Mel Buttle is as skilled as she as funny. One of Brisbane’s best comedians also dabbles in the hosting realm as one of the co-hosts of the Great Australian Bake Off, but it’s her show comedy show I Can’t Believe It’s Not Buttle that is getting people talking. As part of the Brisbane Comedy Festival, Mel will be getting on stage to regale audiences with tales from her life and thoughts on everything from local radio to rugby. We decided to catch up with Mel before her show on March 14-19 to pick her brain about comedy, local food spots and to see if she’s ever tried I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter.

To kick things off, can you tell us about the first time you cracked a joke that made everyone in the room bust a gut laughing?
I was a huge fan of Fast Forward as a child – I used to take off the characters from that show at family barbecues. Anything Jane Turner or Gina Riley did, I was at school doing the next day to a sea of properly raised kids who were long in bed by the time that show was on. I think it was on Monday night, and Dad went to TAFE that night so I was allowed to watch until Dad pulled in the driveway, but I must say my impression of my year five teacher Ms McCahon destroyed on the bus to tee ball one afternoon.

Following on from that moment, what inspired you to get into the stand-up comedy game?
I actually didn’t even try standup until I was 24! I did it to help hone my skills as a freshly graduated drama teacher, but I fell in love with it really quickly. I had done a bit of acting but standup was perfect – it was my words, my way. I’m an only child so that’s perfect for me. Also, what other career gifts you all you can drink free beer and discount chips? It was a match made in heaven for me.

Who were some of your comedic idols when you were growing up and while you were honing your craft?
Growing up and to this day I’m a huge fan of Judith Lucy. I met her a few years ago too – she is lovely! I was too starstruck to speak I just agreed with everything she said tried not to scream, ‘yasss queen’ in her face just for existing. I still love Jude. I’m also really into Amy Schumer, Sam Simmons, Damien Power, Jen Kirkman, Margaret Cho, Hannibal Buress, Anne Edmonds, Ronny Chieng and Hannah Gadsby. 

I Can’t Believe It’s Not Buttle is the name of your Brisbane Comedy Festival show – what insights into your life will you be giving audiences this time around?
Oh it’s a really good catchup – there’s some good insight into attending an all-girls school in Brisbane, rugby league, owning a rescue dog and ABC local radio. I cover a lot of ground. I love this show – I’ve been trialling bits of it around Brisbane and I love performing it.

While on the topic of show, have you ever tried I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter and if so, could you believe it wasn’t butter?
I’m such a fraud –– I’ve never tried it. My mum was addicted to that Olive Grove spread when I was growing up as Dad had high cholesterol. I grew up in Ferny Hills, so there was no spare cash for multiple kinds of butter. We had a Sarah Lee cake twice a year and I knew we were balling when there was avocado in the salad and Milo in the pantry. 

If you haven’t tried I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, what generally are your thoughts on Fabio?
Fabio made hay while the sun was shining – I’m not better than a butter commercial either. Devondale, call me!

We are insanely jealous about your recent hosting gig for the Great Australian Bake Off. What is your go-to baked treat for when you have friends or family around for tea?
Shamefully, I have to admit I don’t ever make dessert for guests, but why would you in Brissy when we’ve got Jocelyn’s Provisions on hand? Pearl Cafe have excellent cakes and puddings available for take away that change daily too. I concentrate on the main and entree and just buy a tub of Maggie Beer vanilla to pair with a bought treat. My skill lies in eating, not baking.

We’ve noticed you are a bit of a foodie – what is one food trend that you are loving right now, and one that you wish would kick rocks?
I’m into how good the cocktail and bar scene is in Brisbane right now! I love going to Gerard’s Bar for a spot of charcuterie and a well matched red. Bar wise, I’m into Cobbler in West End – so much whiskey – and the cocktails are all named after quotes form The Castle. I’m also into how we’re embracing our produce – I love seeing that cafes and coffee shops are choosing Barambah Organic Milk and promoting it as a point of difference. I’m totally over salted caramel, kale, sharing plates, and poorly done American barbecue.  

As a Brisbane local, what is one spot that you love to recommend to touring comedians visiting from out of town?
Oh this is fun! Breakfast at King Arthur cafe, lunch with the network executives and your manager at Gerard’s Bistro and a fun dinner after the show and a few beers at Funny Funny Korean in the city. Get the Korean fried chicken, they’re open very late too! Swoop in for a pre-show coffee from Reverends in the Valley, and calm your stress sugar cravings at Mr Fitz’s Finest Ice-Cream with an ice-cream sandwich. If your ticket sales are slow and you want a cheap night out, I recommend the German Club.

What are you currently finding inspiring in life and work?
That’s an interesting question. I find the beach inspiring – you could get out of the ocean as anyone. I love floating on my back at Burleigh and thinking about all the big issues.

Catch Mel Buttle’s show I Can’t Believe It’s Not Buttle at the Brisbane Comedy Festival from March 14–19 at the Brisbane Powerhouse.


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