Hi I’m Maeve Marsden, and you’re listening to the podcast of Queerstories – an LGBTQI storytelling night hosted at Giant Dwarf in Redfern. This week award winning comedian Demi Lardner.
Hey! How are you guys doing are you good? Cool. So I’m not usually a storytellery type person – I’m usually like standuppy weirdo fuckhead. So in some ways this is a story, in other ways this is just like a list of sadness. So, like it’s mostly like an explanation of how I turned out like this – i.e. a grub. Like the point of it is basically I feel like I was my own parent, who was a weird single mother to myself. Very upsetting, just me screaming at myself to put on a jumper constantly.
I don’t know whether you guys can tell by looking at me, but I have had a lot of step dads. I don’t mean to brag but, it’s just a true thing. I don’t know. It just happened. It was interesting – they were all the same type of dude. They were all bald, they all had utes, they were like “I want to be shiny and convenient”. Dark thing – they were all the type of guy that would say the sentence “look what you made me do”, never good. Never. Never a good thing is it? It’s never “look what you made me do it’s a collage about my emotions! The macaroni represents how much I fucking love you. Masculinity is a prison!” It’s never that.
Oh no. Anyway dark bits – mum is like a proper alcoholic. She’s in a contest that no one else is aware of like very odd. She’s put in her ten thousand hours, she’s a pro. Your typical conversation between us when I was a kid in the house would be like her at one end of the house like “Demi! Clean your room!” and me at the other end of the house like “Mum I can barely hear you over the chicken bone wind chimes you made in rehab.”
She was a bit of a dummy, I’m not a huge fan of her. We rarely had plates in the house because they were repurposed as rage weapons. It was no good! One time she grounded me because I accidentally poured a full box of BBQ shapes in my Nanna’s coffin. I’ll give her that one, that’s no good. I didn’t mean it. I pretended I wasn’t Queer for ages because she was real keen on having a gay kid.
Another thing I used to do to rebel was in the middle of the night I would just sneak out of my bedroom, sneak into the kitchen, get the salt, sneak back to my room, eat all the salt. “Fuck you mum and dad! Dinner’s going to be bland. And I’m thirsty.”
That was a little bit about me, a little bit about mum, my dad he is like I really want to like him. He’s ok. I remember when I didn’t mean to come out to him because I thought I already had, I had not it turns out. Which was a bummer. I’ve got a recording of it, I was doing a podcast with him, alright I’ll be dad.
This was me “so Dad, how do you feel about me being somewhat gay”, and he was like “Oh I hope you’re not”. Then I was like “Oh no, you know I’ve dated girls”, and he was like “What and kissed em?”, I was like “yeah” and he went “yuck”.
But then about a month later he visited me at my home in Melbourne and he kind of extended an olive branch, his sixty five year old olive branch, and he was like “hey if you like had a celebrity girl crush, who would it be? Coz mine’s George Clooney.”
Anyway, I was just going to go through a list of things. I was my own parents growing up because my parents were mental, that was the point of that.
When I was fourteen I got a fake ID so I could buy a lizard. Just real keen on having a lizard. When I was fifteen I started comedy and I would stay out till three AM watching my thirty year old friends get wasted and then just drive them home. Very odd. I had to leave home at sixteen because my dad was on a crazy cocktail of meds and stuff and he kicked me out for shaving my head which was confusing. Coz he was bald at the time. Real weird. It was potentially because I reminded him of all my Step dads. Maybe he hates aero dynamics. But simultaneously, my mum and dad lived in different houses, my mum was not in a good place. At the time she resembled a very angry pile of sticks. In a von dutch jumper. Just an angry rage lady who was not keen on me. So had to go.
I lived in my 1989 Toyota Corolla. The transition was a lot easier, because of the fact that for three years I’d been sleeping in a child race car bed. So I lived in my car, it was pretty cool in some ways. The boot was full of nerf guns that was rad. I don’t think you’re supposed to live in cars so cops would be like “what are you doing?” a lot. And I’d be like “nothing” a lot. Flawless plan. Lived in that car for ages. Because I was kind of isolated and stuff, I personified the car out of boredom and isolation. Whenever I got out of the car, and this just became habit, I would open the door and just make this sound (this is my cars voice) “oh my god, no, I’m going to *vomit noise*” and then I’d climb out. Like my car was bulimic and I was a large meatlovers.
Speaking of which, at eighteen I took after my car and developed an eating disorder to try and take my mind off the sads. Coz if my tum tum hurts my brain can’t. Guys its fine, I think its funny so you guys can. It really doesn’t matter. I didn’t think I was bulimic though, it was more like I was just nostalgic for the meals I had eaten. I wanna see that one again!
At seventeen I moved into a gross share house with a guy who used to watch hentai at the dinner table and leave fish skeletons all over the house. I don’t know what the fuck that was about. He was a cartoon cat? I don’t know. But one that loves Anime titties. One time he stole all of my underwear.
I decided to start tackling the bulimia though when I was in hospital with chronic stomach pain and running late for the Kanye concert I was supposed to be at. I decided to rip the drip out of my arm and cab it to Rod Laver and the Dr was like “oh, don’t”, and I was like “I’m late!” and after that I thought, probably should just eat better.
Once I was too poor to buy groceries and I used a sample sachet of strawberry lube as jam on toast. Good thing about that is that it goes down really easy.
When I was twenty I accidentally seduced a very gay man who ran a hotel, and he stole my passport and house keys. Then started sending me pictures of myself with a zoom lense. So shit was weird for a bit.
I got really good at building stuff and problem solving from being left alone for the first twenty years of my life. I was like a tiny sad macgyver. But I didn’t learn how to do any normal shit until last year. Sometimes I go blind in one eye and I have no idea why, because I will not go to the Doctor because I don’t understand bulk billing.
So my parents didn’t teach me to do any of that stuff. The one time though that my mum actually parented me in a situation was – one time my mum caught me watching some pornography. Which I think has happened to a lot of people, but the way that it happened with me is different, because the way she caught me was I called her up and I told her. I’ll explain, I was in Edinburgh doing a solo stand up show and I was staying with a friend and she left the house for twenty minutes so I was like ‘why wouldn’t I do that?’. The night before I had been walking home alone through a park and this dude had been following me so I took out an aerosol can and a lighter and blew flames into the air. He hoofed it in the other direction like he was like ‘I’m not going to fuck her if she’s on fire’.
So point is, I was in a weird place. I was watching my midday movies and a pop up came up on the screen that I had never seen before. Popups are just ads that come up that are like ‘Do you want to buy a boob?’ I don’t know. So a pop up came up that I had never seen before, and it was like ‘STOP United Kingdom Corrections Cyber Crime Unit’ and it had a police siren sound effect with it, and then all these paragraphs about how I was definitely going to jail, but maybe I wouldn’t go to jail as much if I gave them some money. So I did, what I think any of us would do , which is just burst into tears and call my mum. And I was like “Mum I’m going to jail I saw a doodle”, she was like “I don’t think that happens”, and I was like “Well, why would the internet lie to me mother.” And she told me I should call the police and ask them. So I did. I was like “I just got this pop up on my screen” I read it out to the police lady who was on the phone, she immediately recognised it as fake she said “yeah that’s fine that’s a very common scam, it just happens when you’re on certain websites” and I thought ‘she knows!’ so I hung up. I called mum back and was like “sorry, you probably didn’t want to get that phone call” and she was like “Demi it’s fine, don’t even worry about it you know we all watch a bit of porn”. No you don’t! Nah. As far as I’m concerned you haven’t had sex. I was born because a wizard sneezed on you. And I just don’t know how I didn’t know that was a pop up – like it had up in the corner it had a picture of the Queen just looking a bit cross. Like she was like ‘don’t treat yourself like an animal’.
Now I’m just worried that when I watch porn I won’t be able to cum unless I’m looking at a five dollar note. Anyway, the point of most of this. Had a weird time when I was a kid. I was a confused person. And my friend Bart kind of mentored me through the past four years and I think I owe most of my progress to him. He asked me to start a podcast with him which we have been doing for over a year now where people send us voicemails and we give them terrible advice. It’s pretty apparent now that the whole reason was just to give me stability and something to do every week. But it’s gotten a little bit popular and people send us shit like ‘you really helped me through a hard time’ that’s fucked.
He incorporated a segment into the podcast where I would just update people on my mind journey like “oh I booked in for the doctor, and I’m meds and I’m talking to a psych” and that’s literally the only reason he was doing this. And now people email me and update me on their progress and stuff, which is fucking sick. My life is kind of together now. I don’t live in a car so thats good. I’m the most mentally healthy I’ve ever been, I’m not anxious, I’m also living my fucking dreams at twenty three. I legitimately have to write a new bucket list because its done. Although last week I was using an app on my phone that takes photos of your tax receipts and the company collates all the information from them and instead of uploading a receipt I accidentally sent them nudes. A month ago I missed a train on my way to a TV shoot because I scooted into an op shop to buy a DVD of Sister Act 2 back in the habit. That is the correct response!
Anyway, still have my eating disorder but I’m heaps healthier now, don’t speak to my mum, talk to my dad a lot and I love him. But terrible parent. I think the point of it is, I feel like sometimes kids need to be told that their parents might be garbage. You know you hear a lot about how thats your family, but no, sometimes they’re real shit. Hardcore garbage. I was really pressured into dealing with my parents because they are family, and I’m pretty lucky that my parents are shitty and absent because I got to spend hours alone contemplating, figured out how to cut them out, but it turns out I was an ok parent to myself.
So I don’t know if you want to send me mothers day gifts or whatever. Thanks very much I’m Demi Lardner!