Alice Brine is from Wellington. During the day, Brine works as a software analyst at Xero. By night she does stand-up comedy. 2015 has been a notable year for Brine, who has been nominated for a Billy T James award, performed with major New Zealand and international stand-up acts and written for TV shows such as 7 Days. In October, she also wrote a Facebook post responding to a post by Tony Vietch, New Zealand Sports Commentator, that went viral. Brine has been leading her double life for 2 years.
"Safe to say, I'm from the Hutt"
Brine came into the world at Hutt Hospital, went to Eastern Hutt School, and then Hutt Intermediate, and then Hutt Valley High. "So safe to say I am from the Hutt", she laughs. "When she was about 18 or 19 I moved into Wellington and have pretty much been there since". Brine has an infectious energy, and from the moment she arrives at our meeting place of 5 Boroughs in Wellington, in hot pink lipstick, and leather jacket ripped off from one of the T-Birds from 'Grease', she doesn't stop talking. "Coffee, Ritalin and talking" Brine quips. "Those would be the three things I couldn't live without"
Brine studied media and theater at Victoria University of Wellington, taking on a major student loan she could ill afford in the process. Brine tells me it was her lecturer, John Downey, who told her on receiving first assignment that she didn't need to worry about anything else but comedy. "Comedy is your thing" he said - "do it - do something no one else can do". That is exactly what Alice did.
After studying she started working in tech but the thoughts about doing comedy seriously wouldn't leave her."It was like, why did you do this massive degree? I had in the back of my head this whole thing I wasn't using the skills to do what I was passionate about at all. At Uni, everything I did was comedy." It was Alice's best friend Emily, who helped to get her started. "A friend posted a video of Amy Schumer doing stand-up. It blew me away. I had never had any exposure to this kind of thing. I hadn't clicked that I could do it. I was really inspired". The pair made a pact that she would do it.
"They weren't doing it right": Raw Meat Monday's Comedy
Brine moved home with her mum to write comedy. She describes it as a selfish little time which was hugely productive creatively. "I felt like myself again" she says, somewhat misty eyed. Brine would go home and write every day after work on big rolls of butchers paper (Brine:"You can't buy it anymore - I'm furious about this!!").
Brine's stand-up experience was Raw Meat Monday, at Fringe Bar in Wellington "because we were like, how do you even do it?". She describes herself watching the first gig as feeling frustrated "because I knew I could do it better". Afterwards, she hounded the organiser to try and get a slot in the next show. Unusually, Brine was allowed to go and do stand-up almost straight away and performed her first stand-up show in 2013. "I gave my first gig and talked about job interviews. I was looking for a new job." Alice says she imagines her first gig as being more fabulous than it was in reality "I keep telling people, no, it was sold out, there was glitter everywhere - but in reality I think it was only 30 people". The magic moment was when she saw someone she didn't know laughing at her work, which she didn't think she could do.
With a little help from her friends...
Alice's career hit the ground running. Alice had met '7-Days' comedian Steve Wrigley, at a Concert aged 19. She Facebook messaged him and told him she was doing stand-up. Wrigley immediately helped Brine, getting her a second show. For her third show, she supported New Zealand comedian, Dai Henwood, at San Fran on Cuba Street, in a 5 minute slot "a great gig and one I would still be thrilled to do". From this, Brine managed to pick up stand-up work regularly.
A highlight of Brine's career to date was supporting David Keochner, of Anchorman, in April. "He says Whammy a lot in the movie", says Brine, for those who are less familiar with Anchorman. Keochner was in Wellington making a movie with Adam Scott, from Parks and Recreation. He had been handed a flyer by someone that told him Alice was one to watch. Keochner asked her to be his support for his upcoming show at VK's on Dixon Street, Wellington, 20 minutes to warm up the crowd. Brine was told some of the crew were coming. "I was like, cool, boom-mike guys".
Brine was shocked when she saw international comedians, American based Adam Scott and Australian born Toni Collete (of the film 'Muriels Wedding' and 'Little Miss Sunshine') in the audience. Brine admits she ended up doing one of the best gigs of her life. Afterwards, Scott and the Director of the movie praised her performance. Now it is Keochner who follows Alice on twitter and when a friend of his comes to Wellington, he gets them together, such as pal Andy Paley, who was the producer for the band, "the Ramones". "He was the man!" exclaims Brine.
Brine now has merged into the Burlesque scene, where she has a live following. She decided to merge comedy and burlesque and struck upon monthly lip-sync battles. She also produces 'the Watercooler' series with Radio New Zealand for Wellington (based on the same type of style of podcast as 'This American Life'). With two monthly shows for 'Watercooler', lip-sync battles and her own stand-up shows regularly, Brine is one ridiculously busy lady.
"I remember being stoked when Steve accepted my friend request when I was 19" Alice reminisces "Now I know that it isn't a big deal at all. I accept everyone I can. I'm like, yes, more people I can sell tickets to!"