Em Rusciano’s star is definitely on the rise. She is selling out shows all over the country and we can’t seem to get enough of her written word. This year marked her third Melbourne International Comedy Festival. So popular is she, shows were sold out and extra ones had to be added. She is clearly doing things her way and her audiences love her for it.
Like many others, I first came to know about Em on Australian Idol. While the contestants of these talent shows often come and go, Em’s career has taken off in many directions as a result. And you just know there is more to come. Here’s the story so far…
Australian Idol – what gave you the courage to try out for it and how did it change your life, both in the publicity sense and personal sense?
I was lovingly bullied by some of the WAGS at the Port Adelaide Football club (where my husband worked at the time) to go and try out after we saw it advertised on the TV. On the actual day I was laying in bed next to said husband and asked him if he thought I should go. He said “why not, you have nothing to lose”. So I rolled up very late, so late that they were packing up, and walked straight in. No line, passed go, collected my ticket to Sydney. It changed everything. It made me question all that I hold dear and delivered a whole new direction in life. It evoked much soul searching on good and bad things.
Going to Perth for a radio gig – it was a big move for you and your family. Was it something you sought or that came to you, and was it a difficult decision?
I had never considered a career in broadcasting. I was studying at uni to become an interior designer and had been an elite track and field athlete. After I got voted off Idol it turned out I had a natural affinity with…well… speaking words in such a way that didn’t piss people off! It was a huge decision to move West as it involved my husband stopping work so that I may pursue my new career. That being said the decision was made quickly and I was completely committed to it. I try to always say yes to new challenges (with good and bad outcomes). I tend to dive into things hard and fast. Radio was no exception.
Tell us about your musical / comedy journey?
It was a logical progression. I became a story-teller in the years I did radio and I am a singer. I’m also a bit weird which I suppose leads to amusing situations. Charlie Pickering encouraged me to put on my own show when I moved home from Perth. So I did, in a 25 seat venue. He came and laughed the loudest. I love writing, singing and doing stand-up. It’s what I realised I really wanted to do, so I just…you know…went out and did it! People liked it because I obviously loved doing it and now I have a respectable following of rad people.
The times that you think ‘this is not worth it, why am I doing this’ – what do you do to get back on track and stay focused?
Nah, my job ain’t brain surgery! Look if someone is being a douche lord online then sure I feel a bit exposed and raw but mostly I make people feel ok about themselves so they tend to be nice. To be honest though, I did feel that way about breakfast radio on a daily basis.
Are you a goal focused person? What sort of planning goes into your dreams and future?
Extremely so, to a fault. I barely allow myself time to celebrate reaching a goal before I am on to the next thing. I am assuming this comes from my background as an athlete. Not much planning, I just want to keep making things I love and believe in and hope that I and my material keep connecting with people. Each year we go a little bigger with everything from costumes to venue sizes to jokes. That is my main goal, to get a little bigger every time I go back. I like to be a bit scared about those things – it keeps me sharp and fresh.
What would you say are your character strengths that have helped you achieve all that you have?
Quick learner. Hard worker. Stubborn. Determined. Resilient. Open minded. Risk taker. Do-er of stuff!
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Hopefully doing the same thing only with the words “arena spectacular” attached to the end of my show titles. Oh and I want dancers… And a book deal… Maybe a TV show… Definitely an album…
Is there anything that terrifies you?
Being unprepared for things, the anxiety is overwhelming. Mediocrity. Fading into obscurity.
What is your favourite part of your career so far?
Putting on my own shows and having people come and enjoy them. I really am in control, putting out the content I love and working to no one else’s agenda but my own. My first ever show “The Saintly Bitch sings” was a revelation to me, that I could actually be in charge of my creativity and performances. That I didn’t have to answer to a middle aged man in tight jeans and a pair of Vans telling me I need to “tone it down” and to “stop being so opinionated.”
Do you have any mentors? Role models?
Dr Travis Kemp is my head doctor/mentor/friend. We met when he was sent to my radio station to fix my dysfunctional relationship with my co-host and have been buddies ever since. He helps me to be brave and to see things clearly when I cloud them with unnecessary emotion. Mia Freedman had given me huge amounts of wonderful advice and guidance over the past 5 years. She is the reason I write for a living also.
Favourite piece of inspiration, ie book, quote?
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” Theodore Roosevelt