When you think of comedians seldom do you associate them with being shy, perhaps a little bit quirky and awkward but very rarely as timid individuals – after all they have to be somewhat confident to get up on stage and convince a crowd to dissolve into laughter right?
The Little Bitts are quite the opposite of this perception. Lucy Czerwinski and Katie Pierce, the driving forces behind the comedic duo from Brisbane, are self-described as being “really, really shy.” Which, when you think about it, is a rather amusing yet perplexing ideal.
Performing in front of a group of strangers is a daunting experience in itself, yet these girls somehow overcome their shyness and are able to be outright ridiculous and “exaggerate [their] stupidity” without wetting their pants sheepishly. First thoughts are that perhaps they utilise the good old ‘picture your audience in their underwear’ technique, but the girls both have simple tools to help overcome their fear of bashfulness.
“It’s one of those things, that when we get on stage there is this certain level of superiority and control over the situation … and the bigger the audience is, the easier it is,” Lucy said.
Katie sees it in a similar way but also relies on the idea of character and being able to lean them.
“When I’m on stage I’m not me, I’m someone else so if I do something stupid and someone says ‘well that was really stupid,’ I [can say] ‘I was playing a character,’” Katie explained.
Despite all of that though, how these two timid 19-year-olds began a comedy partnership, which subsequently landed them performing in back-to-back shows during the recent Melbourne Fringe Festival, is a rather cute story that dates back to their very early childhood.
The pair first encountered one another in pre-school in 2003 and immediately struck up a friendship. However, as time went on and the pair moved into primary school and then high school they subconsciously drifted apart. As a result the girls “didn’t see each other for ten years”, but low and behold an unplanned reunion occurred when they were fifteen.
Lucy and Katie had done a number of theatrical workshops over the years but one hosted by Brisbane’s Shake and Stir Theatre Company, that they both happened to be attending, reunited the pair.
“We realised that we were both there and I [said to Katie] ‘hi are you Kate? I think we went to pre-school together,” Lucy recalled.
While the friendship spark didn’t occur straight away due to their overwhelming shyness, it eventually returned over time and the pair have, to an extent, Shake and Stir to thank for that.
What really drew them closer together though was their shared love for similar comedy: Lano and Woodley, Monty Python, The Young Ones, The Goodies and The Mighty Boosh to name a few.
“I would quote my favourite TV show or comedy show [to my high school friends] and no one would get it. Then I dropped it at one of the Shake and Stir workshops and [Lucy] laughed and I was like ‘oh my,’” Katie said with a smirk.
Lucy described it as being “one of those things where [they] hadn’t really found that other person who [they] could really connect with yet” and a specific memory she had of them attending a friends fancy dress party really highlights the connection that quickly developed between the two.
“I had driven Katie and we were coming back, I was dressed as Rick from the Young Ones and [Katie was Mr Blonde from Reservoir Dogs] … we were singing Twist and Shout that was playing on the radio and we thought ‘this is the most bizarre thing. Who would have thought when we were five that we would end up quoting Lano and Woodley, and singing Twist and Shout dressed as characters in my car,’” Lucy said.
As the friendship continued to grow, the idea that they could develop their keen interest in comedy to more than just an interest started to grow too.
“We would say really funny things and I started writing them down in the notes on my phone and over time we developed this kind of chemistry and thought ‘maybe we could do something like this,’” Lucy said.
Thus came about The Little Bitts.
The name of the duo is simple yet clever.
“Our stand up comedy wasn’t just stand up comedy, it was little bits like little sketches,” Katie told me.
“It just kind of fit nicely,” Lucy added.
Just like the rational behind their chosen name, there’s a simple explanation to ‘Bitt’ containing double T.
“When we eventually claimed the name, there was already a ‘Little Bits’ so we had to have two T’s – it’s not that exciting,” Katie said amidst laughter.
While the duo is relatively fresh, having only been conceived last year, the pair have already taken to a number of stages including Brisbane’s Anywhere Festival and of course Melbourne’s Fringe Festival, they even hosted their own variety night featuring local Brisbane artists.
“When we decided we wanted to do [comedy] we thought we would test it out, so we did Anywhere Theatre Festival and we were pretty well received,” Lucy said.
The Little Bitts achieved rave reviews in their debut performance at the festival with audience members commending them on having an “alternative, fresh and fun” show while another deemed it as “one of the funniest shows [they] had ever been to.”
There are two main motivations behind the girls’ performances: firstly to fill the gap of female comedy duos, but also to bring back comedy that more recently goes unnoticed.
The kind of comedy that the girls describe as being “a bit forgotten … like the clownish, physical comedy” that sees people “being silly for the sake of being silly.”
Their Melbourne Fringe show, Professor Plum, in the Parlour, With the Pineapple, was just that. In the setting of a dinner party, the girls combined the utter most silliness, like misspelling words and bad jokes, with audience participation while also paying homage to a few of their favourite things: murder mystery, Agatha Christie, Cluedo – which nods to the shows name – and wine.
Although The Little Bitts started off as an artistic project for the girls, Lucy and Katie have big plans to take it that little bit further, even aiming to be back in Melbourne for another performance next year.
“We’ve got plans to bring a show to the Melbourne International Comedy Festival to try and get into that scene,” Katie said.
But the girls, who are busy working away at making sure they achieve this goal, already have something coming up much sooner than that.
“We’re in the process of writing a new show called ‘Plenty of chips, not enough dips,’ which we wanted to write for the comedy festival but we’ve been accepted into the Festival of Australian Student Theatre [where] we will be doing that show for the first time,” Lucy said.
Little did anyone know that when two five year old girls, who coincidently struck up a friendship at pre-school, would be taking the Australian comedy scene by storm a decade and a half later.