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Dr Alex Hopes (sitting) and Sabrina Stoffels (standing). Photography: Nick Robertson

She is new to the world of stand-up comedy but Dr Alexandria Hopes of Gisborne Veterinary Clinic in Victoria is winning over audiences.

“If you had told me a year ago that I would be performing stand-up at this year›s International Comedy Festival in Melbourne, I wouldn’t have believed you. I am friends with another comedian, Sabrina Stoffels, who moved to Australia from Texas. We both grew up on cattle properties, so there is a definite bond between us. Our show, Our First Rodeo, is on at the Coopers Inn between the 28th of March and the 6th of April. We agreed to perform half an hour each. 

“Growing up, I always loved drama and giving speeches. I moved to Melbourne about two years ago and was dating a comedian at the time. Watching his shows inspired me to give it a go. I entered Raw Comedy in April 2023 and that was my first stand-up gig. I got through to the Victorian final and there was no turning back. I’ve been gigging around Melbourne fairly regularly ever since. Generally, you need five minutes of material though some places require a seven- or 10-minute set. I still get nervous when I’m onstage and have to wear loose pants, my legs are shaking so much. I’m not a vivacious, bubbly comedian. I stand there with the mic in the stand and perform. That makes me appear confident.

“About 90 per cent of my material comes from being a vet. Just about everyone owns or likes animals so it’s something people can relate to. A lot of my material is quite dark. After all, vets deal with death and grief more commonly than other people. Being able to put a positive spin on the darker side of things always gets an audience reaction. It’s cathartic but I have to be careful it’s not too cathartic. Then it just becomes someone droning on and on.

“The thing I like most about stand-up is connecting with people and making them feel happy. When it’s going well, you get an immediate positive reaction and that’s wonderful. When you bomb, it’s horrible. You need to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.

“Stand-up is undeniably male dominated. Fortunately, most of the other comedians are lovely and really accepting. I have to put up with hecklers but that’s no problem. Dealing with a bristly farmer with sick stock animals is way more difficult than a mid-thirties bloke in a comedy club.”

Find Our First Rodeo performance details at comedyfestival.com.au/2024

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