Content Warning: This article contains references to abuse,
A tour de force of the comedy world, Urzila Carlson is back to liven up the judging panel of The Masked Singer Australia 2021 and boy, does she have a story to tell!
The 45-year-old comedian was born in Johannesburg, South Africa and was raised in the same middle-of-nowhere town as actor Charlize Theron, however, their childhoods were chalk and cheese, with Urzila being raised alongside her brother and sister by their mother and an abusive, drunken father.
At the age of six, Carlson’s father threatened the family with a gun which saw Urzila, her siblings and mother hide in their neighbour’s wardrobe until it was safe to escape, when that same neighbour drove them out of town as they hid under blankets. Her father was then served with a restraining order, and her parents divorced not long after.
Urzila emigrated to New Zealand in 2006 after she experienced several horrifying brushes with crime, including being car-jacked while waiting at traffic lights, suffering a home invasion and an instance where she was forced to lie on the floor while men with AK47s raided her workplace.
Though she worked as a typesetter in newspapers for 12 years in South Africa, Urzila began working as a graphic designer in advertising after moving to New Zealand, which is how she met the workmates who ultimately convinced her to try stand up comedy after being impressed with the star’s office jesting.
She took to the stage for the first time in 2008 during an open mic night and was immediately hooked. A year later, the natural talent was performing stand-up in both New Zealand and Australia.
Nowadays, Urzila splits her time between doing stand-up, corporate gigs and appearing on TV, through which she has become a household name on shows such as Have You Been Paying Attention, Hughesy We Have A Problem, The Project, and Kiwi series 7 Days.
Regardless of her upbringing in such a religious country, Urzila came out as gay to her mother when she was 26 after her mother told the story of how her boss’s son came out as gay, a version of which she details in her 2016 memoir Rolling With The Punchlines.
Now a self-confessed ‘lesbyterian’, Urzila and her wife, Julie, tied the knot in 2014, a year after New Zealand legalised same-sex marriage, though the comedian prefers to keep much of her personal life private. The couple now share a son and daughter, who were both conceived via an undisclosed sperm donor.
No stranger to winning an award or two on the comedy circuit either, Urzila’s accolades include the Sydney Comedy Festival’s Director’s Choice Award, no less than six Best Female Comedian gongs at the New Zealand Comedy Guild Awards, plus a nomination for Australia’s Helpmann Award for Best Comedy Performer.
Urzila was introduced to a new, global legion of fans in 2020 after her Netflix stand-up special Overqualified Loser was released in 190 countries.
That same year saw Urzila cast as the new Masked Singer Australia judge after inaugural judge Lindsay Lohan was unable to return to Australia to film season two due to harsh International border closures. The comedian stepped up to the plate, but admitted she initially thought it would be a substitute role.
“I was like okay, I’m just a fill-in, the substitute teacher. I get to chill out and enjoy the ride,” she told 10Play. “I took it a lot more seriously this year.
“Not really I didn’t take it very seriously at all but I was just happy they brought me back!”
Last year, Urzila’s side-splitting guesses as to who were under the masks included Barnaby Joyce, the Cash Cow from Sunrise and most infamously, the Tasmanian Salmon.
Perhaps her guesses for 2021 will be a little more accurate? We’re not totally convinced, but tune in to The Masked Singer Australia 2021 on Channel 10 and 10Play to find out!
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