Step aside Ivan Aristeguieta, there’s a new Venezuelan set to takethe Australian comedy scene by storm!
Sam Serna lived in the notorious Caracas, Venezuela – a violent city which enjoys the dubious distinction of being one of the most dangerous in the world – but even that did not prepare her for how terrifying dating men would be when she found herself single again after 13 years of marriage.
In the world premiere of her debut solo show, Bunny Rabbit, Sam combines storytelling with some spicy stand-up. Her unique background gives her universal experiences of dating a fresh perspective, which is interwoven with her story of escaping the Venezuelan communist regime.
Read on to spend 5 minutes with Sam Serna:
How would you describe your show to someone who knew nothing about it?
An hour of irreverent takes on relationships, societal expectations of women, migration and culture clash, and a brief look into one of the most surreal and dangerous countries in the world.
What/Who was its inspiration?
Having survived all those moments when I felt my life was in serious danger: whether from living in one of the most dangerous cities in the world as (mis)governed by a ruthless regime, or from the lecherous gazes of men.
What do you think its best quality is?
Me, of course… jokes aside… me.
Why should people see it?
To have a great laugh, first and foremost. But also to gain a new perspective that is not often heard. I hope I can make the audience feel as lucky as I do to be living in Australia (and realise “Dictator Dan” is a terrible delusion)
If there is one thing you would like to say to your fans, what is it?
Don’t waste your time on hate.
Who or what has been the greatest influence on your career?
Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette was definitely the one stand-up show that inspired me to pursue stand-up. Nanette showed me that humour can be a primer to take on tough emotional matters whilst still having a joyful experience.
Also, a great number of Spanish speaking Venezuelan comedians who, through their humour and satire on the harsh realities of my country, have helped me and many other Venezuelans cope with the all the hardship that comes from witnessing your country spiralling down into complete chaos.
Who makes you want to create
Not sure there’s a who in particular. Most of my inspiration will come from people, either a random stranger on the street talking to a bird or hearing the stories of my great grandmother as told by my mother and aunt.
When did it become clear to you that comedy and entertainment were your passions?
Growing up I wanted to be an actress. I never really knew why, but I clearly remember having the desire right up to my teenage years.
I had primary and secondary education at a musical school: I’ve played violin since I was five, and this school allowed me to be part of performing orchestras for most of my childhood, I’m no stranger to the stage.
When I was finishing high school, life punched me in the face, and I realised that my country and my future were on shaky grounds, so I decided to play it safe and study engineering.
Then came migration, and the whole Venezuelan debacle, which meant I needed to provide for my family and put my passions aside for a while.
But I’ve always enjoyed creative activities: from kid fantasies of acting to playing music to Toast mastering to Corporate business presentations and finally stand-up.
I guess, the short answer is: I’ve always had this passion, even though until recently, I never really had the chance to act on it.
What does comedy, creation and entertainment mean to you?
The potential to bring joy to people who need it. Science and engineering have made modern life what it is, but I wouldn’t care to have a Smartphone if I couldn’t watch Aunty Donna on it.
I always come back to all those times I cracked up reading satirical news on my home country: there is a transformative power in comedy that I hope to channel in my material.
What are 3 words that describe you?
Passionate, blunt, versatile
What are 3 things that would surprise people to learn about you?
Well… People on my engineering circles are surprised to know I’m a stand-up comedian, and people on my comedy circles are always surprised to know I’m an engineer.
Most people are surprised to know I’m a violinist, and even more surprised when they see me perform.
How excited are you to be performing in front of a live audience again after last year’s covid shut down?
Very much so, even though during COVID I ended up performing comedy on zoom, which was a tremendous learning experience for timing and pacing (internet lag, anyone?), which are fundamental to stand-up.
What is next for you?
I’d love to dip my toe into acting and sketch comedy!
SAM SERNA BUNNY RABBIT
The title of the show refers to those moments where we freeze like scared bunnies when confronted by predators. From surviving life in Caracas, taking the rest of her family to safety abroad, to winding up involuntarily celibate and single again in her mid-thirties, Sam Serna has had more than her fair share of ‘bunny rabbit moments’.
An engineer by day, Sam picked up a mic in 2019 and has been doing the rounds of the rooms since then. She’s had training in improvised comedy with The Improv Conspiracy and cut her teeth on the festival circuit performing in an ensemble showcase as part of the 2020 Adelaide Fringe and a two-hander with Indian-born, Thai-raised “queermedian” Sunanda Sachatrakul. Called “Yes, We Tan!” the show was Broadsheet’s Top Pick for a comedy show in the 2020 Melbourne Fringe.
Bunny Rabbit takes an irreverent look at sex, anatomy, bodily fluids, pop culture and if you are wondering what it’s like to have all your friends and family mugged at gun point at different times, well, that’s in there, too, in this brand new hour of thought provoking stand-up.
March 25 – April 18