Annie Schofield is a self-described “Queer, non-binary producer, performer, host and bad b****”, taking this year’s Adelaide Fringe by storm.
On top of hosting their very own, The Finest Filth Variety Hour, Annie is producing two exciting Fringe debut shows. Somehow, they found time in their busy schedule to welcome me into their lovely Adelaide home, introduce me to their cat, Alfie, and chew the cat – sorry, the fat – on all things Fringe.
Annie always wanted to start a variety show. After putting on ‘The Jack and Annie show’ at Fringe 2017 and moving to Adelaide, the stars aligned.
“I had my 30th birthday at this venue called My Lover Cindi which had just opened. It’s a queer venue and I walked in and I was like ‘Oh, I’m home!’.”
Two years after The Finest Filth first cut its teeth at My Lover Cindi, and following four shows at Fringe 2022, this “jammed pack” variety hour is back at this year’s festival bringing together 40 artists over eight shows. “It’s its own Fringe”, Annie playfully remarks.
The Finest Filth is a variety show in the truest sense of the term, with Schofield having carefully curated the shows to include a range of different performance practices.
“I love to have a stand up comedian, a drag artist. I always try to make sure I get not just male drag artists – drag queens – but drag kings, drag fuckery basically because it’s not a binary thing at all. It’s totally encompassing. Drag can be whatever you want it to be. Burlesque and cabaret as well. I have lots of incredible burlesque performers that are just so powerful.”
The variety nature of the show takes on a double meaning with Annie’s emphasis on platforming a range of diverse artistic voices,
“I definitely look to uplift unheard voices, especially women in comedy because that’s something that in Adelaide is overlooked. Intersectional artists, disabled artists, people of colour, queer artists predominantly from the LGBTQIA + community.
Because I’m casting in the show people who are so authentic in their identity. I, for one, know that when I see that on stage, it just uplifts you in such an intense way, just to see people be so fully themselves.”
The Finest Filth and its loyal joint, the LGBTIQ venue, My Lover Cindi, are leading the pack in terms of giving a spotlight to diverse artists in Adelaide. The urgency for this is high given that, on this front, Annie suggests, “Adelaide’s just that little bit behind.”.
“I think it does need to be shaken. I think people are still scared to speak out or be rude about it because of the gatekeepers that are controlling what’s going on here.”
They take issue with some of Adelaide’s leading comedy venues for not doing their bit to improve inclusivity and accessibility. One venue, in particular, they say, still “represents the boys’ club of comedy”, and adding to their rightful frustrations, its “f***ng huge staircase” means it is inaccessible for wheelchair users.
Additionally, being a small fish in an increasingly big pond can be difficult. In a burgeoning Fringe environment, Schofield is under no illusion that their variety hour is fulfilling a demand from both artists and audiences alike.
“As fantastic and big as the Fringe has become, it is just that more competitive every year. I think that is why doing a variety show is probably pretty smart. Because there is such an overload of stuff, people will go to a variety show. They know they’re going to get a bunch of different things and it’s less commitment. It’s brutal but it’s true…It’s also a chance for [the acts] to get people to buy tickets to their shows because it’s like a mini preview.”
Schofield’s mission of platforming oft-unheard, exciting new voices reveals itself further in the shows they are producing. The Coconuts are a musical comedy duo consisting of Leela Varghese and Shabana Azeez, who Schofield lovingly refers to as “two boss b***h brown girls”.
“Just the way that they can roast straight white men blows my mind. They’re just very intelligent, very subtle, very put together. They are definitely two female voices that just need to be heard”.
Exemplifying Annie’s creative versatility is the second show they are producing, Songs & Stories with Emilie Kate, an hour of “personal, intimate songs about her life…starting from when she was born to having her baby”. Annie suggests that listening to Emilie Kate’s “endorphin inducing” singing voice provides a refreshing rest break for those who might be “all dragged out”.
If Annie’s passion for what they do and their willingness to ruffle feathers is anything to go by, their Fringe shows are ones to watch. What’s more, their thoughtful consideration of The Finest Filth audience is guaranteed to sell tickets,
“I want them to leave just like feeling connected to community, feeling connected to themselves, feeling overjoyed and horny. Especially horny”.
Catch The Finest Filth Variety Hour every Friday and Saturday evening from 17th Feb to 18th March. Tickets here. Also check out the two shows Annie is producing: The Coconuts – Brown on the Outside, White on the Inside from the 7th March until 19th March, and Songs & Stories with Emilie Kate every Sunday of Fringe beginning on the 19th Feb. Tickets here and here.