Urzila Carlson: A life well laughed
Australian Women’s Weekly NZ|May 2021
Our celebrated comedienne and author has a lot going on in her life, but she’ll always find the funny.
JUDY BAILEY

Urzila Carlson’s running late. She sends me a text from her Uber: “I’m on my way, so have mercy if I’m late, please.” She arrives on the doorstep a short time later in a flurry. “I thought, ‘I’ll have time to drop the kids off to school and daycare, then go home, get the dishes done and clean up,’ then I come to get in the car and … flat tyre.”

Isn’t that just the way all working mums operate? We all try to cram just one extra thing in and our best-laid plans come unstuck by the unforeseen.

Urzila has two children, a daughter and son, with her wife Julie. She guards their privacy fiercely. Right now, she’s operating in that window between their school drop-offs and pick-ups.

What I love about Urzila is that we chat for so long that when she gets home, she has no time to wait for an AA guy to come and fix the tyre, so she fixes it herself and sends me a triumphant pic to prove it.

She’s down-to-earth, thoughtful and kind, and she’s one of our most successful comics. She fills houses in London, Edinburgh and the US. They lap her up in Australia – so much so that in 2019, she became the highest-selling comedian in the 33-year run of the Melbourne Comedy Festival. Meanwhile, Kiwi audiences know her for her stand-up shows and regular appearances on Three’s 7 Days and TVNZ 2’s Are You Paying Attention?.

Urzila’s journey to comedic stardom came out of leftfield. She grew up in the old mining town of Benoni, 30 minutes east of Johannesburg. “It was the best time of my life,” she tells me. Her family – brother Quintin, sister Reinette and mother Lettie – had moved there from Natal. Her parents split when she was five.

Benoni sprang up around four lakes. “I don’t want you kids in those lakes – they’re a death trap,” Lettie told her children. Urzila reckons she spent more time there than at home. She’d play happily in the toxic sandhills of mine tailings.

She and Quintin are extremely close. “People called us the Impossible Twins,” she grins. “He’s a lot funnier than me, but too shy for stand-up.” He now lives just four blocks away from Urzila in West Auckland and is often her sounding board.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM AUSTRALIAN WOMEN’S WEEKLY NZView All

SLAVE TO THE GURU

Hiding beneath a facade of self-help, unscrupulous operators are exploiting the vulnerable for profit, power and sexual gratification. Now, the victims and their families are speaking out to raise awareness and caution others.

10+ mins read
Australian Women’s Weekly NZ
July 2021

How to have a healthy gut

The secret to ageing well could rest within your gut, which scientists now know plays a crucial role in important body systems, including immunity, metabolism and even how happy we can feel. Here’s how to maximise your gut health so everything else ticks along nicely.

6 mins read
Australian Women’s Weekly NZ
July 2021

The Kiwis going for GOLD

From track stars to legends in the pool, we take a look at New Zealand’s elite performers hoping to make it onto the winner’s podium

10+ mins read
Australian Women’s Weekly NZ
July 2021

Lisa's Olympic dream ‘I'm in it for love – not medals!'

Our canoeing golden girl Lisa Carrington talks to Emma Clifton about being newly engaged, what drives her remarkable success and her Tokyo goals.

10+ mins read
Australian Women’s Weekly NZ
July 2021

The avant-garde Princess Margaret

In the 1960s they were the royal glamour couple, but the ritzy world of Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones stood in stark contrast to her sister the Queen’s.

10+ mins read
Australian Women’s Weekly NZ
July 2021

Golriz's gift “I'll always speak my truth”

The refugee MP opens up about being a minority in Parliament and her brave battle with multiple sclerosis.

8 mins read
Australian Women’s Weekly NZ
July 2021

Sidekicks

Brussels sprouts are at their best in winter. The key when cooking is to keep it brief – simply boil, steam, roast or fry until just tender.

1 min read
Australian Women’s Weekly NZ
July 2021

Q: Why can't I quit sugar? A: You can

According to leading Australian researcher David Gillespie, many of us have everyday dependencies based on the same basic biochemistry as an addiction to hard drugs. Here’s how to find out if you’re hooked.

5 mins read
Australian Women’s Weekly NZ
July 2021

From my kitchen Sian Redgrave

This month Sian shares one of her favourite things to cook, inspired by a traditional Italian recipe, seasonal produce and wonderful memories of eating as a child. Sian’s food is created with love, colour and flavour.

3 mins read
Australian Women’s Weekly NZ
July 2021

Arch rivals

Discovering the power of groomed brows is a defining beauty moment. For the uninitiated, it’s a simple way to hit refresh.

2 mins read
Australian Women’s Weekly NZ
July 2021