Laura Imbruglia is the producer and host of something called Amateur Hour, an online variety special full of skits and local music.  She is a musician, a DJ and she has a short film in this year’s St Kilda Film Festival called Gender Reversed Guitar Shopping.  The Melbourne Critique caught up with her to find out why she has all these women in a guitar shop!   

“Those strings are for girls, boys have softer fingers, so you’d want the nylons”. This line in your short film just made me almost fall off my seat with laughter. Gender Reversed Guitar Shopping seems like it is almost a semi-bio, is that the case?

Laura: Yeah, it’s actually one of a series of opening skits from my web series “Amateur Hour” all of which are painfully autobiographical! However, for this particular sketch, I also asked my friends to help by contributing some of the worst things they’ve had said to them in music stores. I picked the best/worst ones to help inform the script. It was originally going to be me as the main shopper with a shop full of men, but when I pitched to film this at Found Sound (the guitar shop where we filmed the video), one of the guys who works there suggested swapping the genders. It made it funnier.

Humour is important to you, is it a way to get across ideas and experiences you have had in the music scene in Melbourne?

Laura: Not only is it a great tool for communicating progressive ideas in interesting ways, it’s also a salve. Even when I’m at my most depressed, I am always able to find humour in the situation and I am deeply grateful for that. I use humour as a tool to address all manner of personal and political issues that concern me, to point out human absurdity and to challenge the status quo.

It’s great to see so many local women musos in this short film and Jen Cloher is so funny! It makes me wish there were music stores in Melbourne that were run entirely by women….or are they hidden away somewhere, a secret world where women sell strings and picks. Anyway what is it like when a woman goes to buy a guitar?

Laura: Yeah, I like to think of myself as a pretty good casting agent, ha ha ! Jen actually studied acting before doing music and I knew she would be great. Hmmm, guitar shops run by women…I wish I had an answer for you. Actually ‘Found Sound’ where we filmed the video does employ some female staff. Shopping for a guitar is often just as horrible as the sketch, therein lies the humour! The script is all real life things that women I know have had said to them.

So I have been checking up on you and came across ‘Amateur Hour’. It’s an amazing vehicle for music content with a focus on Melbourne, how did it come about?

I’m glad you found it! It came about because the last variety show that lasted on Australian TV was Rove and it ended 15 or so years ago. Nothing replaced it. I also used to love watching Aussie sketch shows like Full Frontal in the 90s and I wanted to combine my love of live music TV and good comedy. To me, it’s a no brainerthere’s definitely an audience for this kind of content but I’m still waiting for a call from Netflix or Stan or ABC. But there IS a “Gender Reversed Sound Check” sketch we also did, which you can search for on YouTube. My show’s future will partly depend on demand. It’s a full time job to be this silly and I have a full time job already.