Psychiatrist transforms on stage for laughs

Joanna Prendergast. Photo: Supplied
Joanna Prendergast. Photo: Supplied
By day Joanna Prendergast works as a psychiatrist, helping people in Canterbury struggling with mental health.

At night she transforms into her onstage persona, Jo Ghastly, a comedian developed from how she imagines her children view her - as embarrassing, clueless and thinking she is cool.

Prendergast, 51, only took up comedy three years ago and during that time has become one of Christchurch’s most accomplished performers.

"I have been a performer since I was a child but decided to go to medical school rather than drama school.

"A comedy producer suggested I try stand-up comedy when I was acting in a TV show pilot a few years ago,” she said.

"I like a challenge so I gave it a go and haven’t stopped since.

"It’s an amazing feeling to have a room of people having a great time and laughing at your jokes."

During lockdown she finished writing her debut solo show The Cool Mum, which she will perform on Friday night at Little Andromeda Theatre in the central city.

Joanna Prendergast. Photo: Supplied
Joanna Prendergast. Photo: Supplied
Women’s Refuge will receive 25 per cent of the ticket sales for the show.

"As a psychiatrist, I work with many women who have been in abusive situations and have been supported by Women’s Refuge.

"Supporting women to get away from abuse and to protect their children from abuse is one of the most important ways we can reduce developmental trauma and long-term mental health challenges.”

The show is a parody of a celebrity parenting seminar focusing on her own parenting experiences.

"My teenagers both perform in some video clip skits in the show, along with some of their friends.

"My kids and other young people seem to particularly enjoy my comedy as it’s very relatable to them. If my 16-year-old son smirks at a joke, I know I’ve hit solid gold.

"My comedy mainly focuses on parenting challenges and observations of life.

"Most of the content is light-hearted jokes but there are some truthful, take-home messages about parenting and life in the show.”

There will also be a donation bucket after the show. Another show will be held on September 11.

Prendergast was third in the South Island Raw Comedy Quest in 2018, has twice been comedy Roast Battle Champion, and won three awards at the 2019 Christchurch Comedy carnival.

  • Tickets cost $20 and $5 for students and those not working. They can be purchased here.



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