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GLAMOUR Women In Charge: Meet Award Winning Comedian Arlene Petersen

After a tragedy loss Arlene turned to comedy for healing. Sharing jokes and poking fun of her own trauma opened new paths. With over 5 years in the industry Petersen has captured audiences with her wit and observational style of comedy. In 2022 she was featured in Cape Town Jive Funny Festival she was also an opening act for Jason Goliath on the live comedy bus tour for Comedy Central SA. Arlene was recognised by Baxter Theatre and awarded The Artes Award for using her voice to uplift her community through comedy.

What made you pursue comedy?

I never thought I would pursue this career, it all started with losing my twin brother to gang violence in Lavender Hill and it was one of the most toughest things I've ever had to deal with because he was my best friend. I started going to therapy and the therapist suggested I write my thoughts and feelings down on paper as a means to deal with it. It just so happens that my thoughts were funny and my friend Sirvaun Hickley suggested that I try stand-up, and I did... And the rest is history.

How do you find the industry as one of the few women in comedy?

In the beginning I found it very challenging as I felt the need to constantly prove myself, however, after 5 years in the industry I re-branded and instead of representing myself as a female comic, I simply operate as a Comic. Not female. It changed how I view my career as I now stand head to head with the biggest names in the industry.

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Storytelling plays a big role in comedy, where do you draw inspiration for the stories you share?

As a coloured, I was born with the ability to tell stories. We are colourful!!! We are the best. I grew up watching a TV show called "Maak 'n Las" where people simply stay around the fire telling stories. I draw inspiration from my own life, ensuring my content is authentic because it's all things that has happened to me or the people around me.

What has been your career highlight

Receiving an award at the Baxter theatre (Artes Award) for using my gift for good influence. That's what my heart beats for. You can be funny and make a successful career out of it but I want to motivate and inspire my community as I go along.

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What has comedy taught you about yourself ?

Being a comedian has taught me that I am much more stronger than what I give myself credit for. The fact that I could go on stage and poke fun at my darkest time and most painful experiences.

What’s your favourite funniest line?

Always remain as positive as two lines on a pregnancy test.

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If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be and why?

If I could change one thing about the world it would be free education and free toiletries as we all deserve the right to be dignified human beings.

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