Words by Ashleigh Penhall

Tegan Higginbotham brings her sporty-nerdy hybrid comedy to the Melbourne International Comedy Festival this year in her show Game ChangerGame Changer combines sport, pop culture, and Higginbotham’s own personal experiences.

“Last year more people attended the AFL home-and-away season in Melbourne than Catholics did Church. In Melbourne, sport is the new religion, so it’s an exploration on whether that is a good thing,” Higginbotham says.

“There are a lot of pop culture references, just because I’m a massive nerd. It’s about me changing; that hit from going from young adult to proper adult. Where you hit that wall and you go, ‘Oh no, I’m not allowed to read Where’s Wally anymore without being judged.”

Higginbotham is no stranger to the MICF stage, this year marking her ninth consecutive year at the festival.

Her first solo comedy show, Million Dollar Tegan was based on female boxing. “I had always had this strange fascination with boxing,” Higginbotham tells me.

“Something I am quite passionate about is females in sport and equal recognition for women in sport, because it’s not there. I think it was another way to draw attention to a female sport that hadn’t been getting recognition.”

In preparation for her Million Dollar Tegan show, Higginbotham undertook intensive training for several weeks with Fight Fit, in addition to fighting in two boxing matches.

“The number of people that were going to be watching [the boxing match] really scared me. I thought all the time I had spent performing would have helped me prepare for that. But because I wouldn’t be performing, or doing a character or comedy—which is something I could control—I got really bad stage fright.”

The Written it Down star has performed in both improvisation and stand up shows. She gets nervous performing both styles of comedy, as they each offer unique challenges.

Currently starring in This is Littleton, Higginbotham has received great reviews from The Vine, who lauded her as “the strongest, funniest performer in the first two episodes”.

“I find [the review] so lovely and there’s always a bit of me that goes ‘that’s crazy’ because I know the other performers on the show and I come away from it every day laughing.”

This is Littleton airs on ABC2 Thursday Nights at 9.30pm.

Tegan Higginbotham will be performing her new show Game Changer at the Melbourne International Comedy festival from 28 March- 21 April. For tickets visit comedyfestival.com.au,  or call Ticketmaster on 1300 660 013.