Who’s that peeking ‘round the corner? Could that someone be Denise Scott! Photo courtesy of Token and Denise Scott.

Writer Watch

Denise Scott

Denise Scott is one of Australia’s favourite stand-up comedians and appeared in three sessions at the Brisbane Writers Festival, much to everyone's delight.

Since Denise started in the business in the early 1980s she has been making people laugh with a blend of astute and funny topical observations along with revelations about her strange but true family life. The Sunday Herald Sun, Melbourne said of her performance: ‘Denise Scott... only has to look as if she’s going to say something and everyone laughs.’

Scotty has been a long-time participant at The Melbourne International Comedy Festival and in 2004 received a Barry Award nomination for Best Show at the Festival for her sold-out hit show ‘Scotty and Son’, which featured her then 19-year-old son who, rather surprisingly, was still talking to her.

In late 1989 and the early 1990s Denise was a member of comedy group ‘The Natural Normans’ – Australia’s leading drag kings (oh dear!), along with Lynda Gibson, Sally Anne Upton and Lynne McGranger, but having children put paid to that because she couldn’t bear the idea of leaving the kids to go on tour.  

Scotty managed to get herself a regular slot on The Big Gig and also co-hosted the ‘Dave and Denise with Shaun Micallef’ breakfast show on Vega FM in Melbourne. Since then Denise has turned up as a regular guest on such shows as Spicks & Specks, The Glass House, Good News Week, The Project, Talkin’ About Your Generation, Can of Worms and The Circle to mention just a few. She currently stars as Trish Gross in the Australian television drama series Winners and Losers.

In December 2009 Denise answered questions from an enthusiastic audience at the Brunswick Library in Melbourne.

‘What led me to stand-up comedy? Well, in some ways, it goes way back to when I was little. I didn’t know what stand-up comedy was – even as an adult, I never really saw it; I mean, there wasn’t much in Australia – I’d never seen it, ever.

‘So when I was about ten years old, my Uncle Frank took me to see Joyce Grenfell, who is – do you know Joyce Grenfell? She was in the St. Trinian’s films, and a buck­toothed British actress, yeah. And she was a monologist: she wrote all these amazing monologues.

‘So at ten years old, I went and saw this woman standing onstage alone. I mean, she certainly didn’t do anything crude or crass; it wasn’t like stand-up; but it was … I remember just thinking, “I can see all these –” ’Cause she did one monologue which was about her as a kinder­garten teacher and I remember thinking, “I can see all the kids! I can see them all! But they’re not there on the stage.”

‘And that’s when I became really enamoured with the thought of creating stories... just standing there, telling stories. I guess that’s when I decided that’s what I’d like to do. And it’s taken me ’til 54 to get there. Because really, the show I did at the Opera House is really the first time I’ve ever just done sort of story­telling. Admittedly trying to be funny all along the way, but so it’s yeah, as I say to my kids, “Don’t hurry. Take your time.”’

Denise Scott is now the author of not one, but two books. The first was All that Happened at Number 26, in which Denise and her partner move into their first home with his circus equipment, a too large futon without a base that develops mould if you don’t stand it up daily, nothing in the bank and a newborn baby. Denise later adapted the book for her stage show Number 26, which then played to rave reviews.

All that Happened at Number 26 became a national best seller and fellow comedian Judy Lucy wrote: ‘If Denise wasn’t a close friend I’d hate her for writing such a hilarious, moving book.’

Scotty released her first comedy DVD Number 26 in 2011, and started touring nationally with her new solo stand up show, Regrets. The show won the Melbourne International Comedy Festival Directors’ Choice Award and Denise won a Helpmann Award for Best Comedy Performer.

The Books

All That Happened at No. 26 (2009)

Denise Scott moved into her new home at number 26 with her partner John, somewhat reluctantly because it was so awful and ugly and repulsive in every way. There was also John’s circus equipment, a king-sized futon without a base, a Ventolin inhaler to cope with stress-induced asthma, no savings to speak of and their newborn baby.

John lost his eyebrows; the circus equipment multiplied, spilling over into any available space; the futon went mouldy; the Ventolin ran out, and another baby was added to the family, putting paid to any ideas of further savings. Forget about future plans – it was enough just to make it through the day.

When the roof leaked, the kids wore raincoats. When the kids developed eczema, Denise devised a menu consisting entirely of adzuki beans, and when the council dismantled play equipment at the local park, John built a cubby house with it – so what if it was sprayed with arsenic? It’s not as if the kids were going to lick the walls.

The Tour (2012)

Denise says: ‘I’d always thought spiritual enlightenment would involve candles, meditative music and maybe even a happy faced person wearing an orange robe banging a gong occasionally. Never in my wildest imaginings did I expect it would happen when I was on all fours vomiting my guts out beside a sugar cane field in far north Queensland on Mother's Day.'

Here is another brilliantly funny instalment in the true and chaotic life of middle-aged stand-up comic, Denise Scott, who is on tour through the back blocks and remote country towns of regional Australia with a bunch of young male comics on a tiny bus. She’s old enough to be their mother, but Denise manages to keep up with the partying and outrageous behaviour (many times leading it).

Although the tiny bus takes her many miles away from her reality, life has a habit of catching up with you and on one of the long stretches of empty road Denise finds herself confronting her own issues of ageing, motherhood, sex, intimacy, regret and wearing your bathers in public.

Website Watch

Denise Scott

Since Denise Scott appeared in a regular slot on The Big Gig in 1990 she has turned up as a guest on shows such as Spicks & Specks, The Glass House, Good News Week, The Project and Talkin’ About Your Generation, to mention just a few. Currently Denise stars as Trish Gross in the Australian drama series Winners and Losers.

Check out Denise’s official site at and there is also an interview with George Negus on his ABC-TV show in 2003 at

Book cover for 'On Tour' (Denise is the one at bottom left). Photo courtesy of Hardie Grant Books.