Drive, baby, drive
“My brother and I used to steal my mother’s automatic VW when I was about 10 and he was 13,” says the Auckland-based comedienne who grew up in South Africa. “We’d drive around the neighbourhood on Sunday when she was having a nap.”
Who knows if that early facility with four wheels will drive her debate for more cars at this weekend’s Car Free Comedy Showdown. In honour of World Carfree Day, the Greater Wellington Regional Council has skipped the experts and policy wonks in favour of a bunch of comedians to hash out the pros and cons of driving. Carlson leads the Petrol Heads, with Justine Smith and Ian Harcourt. They’ll bash bumpers with the Transport Tree Huggers – Steve Wrigley, Greg Ellis, and Jerome Chandrahasen.
Smith and Carlson host a weekly podcast together, of the same name, but their fellow teammate Harcourt, is a stranger – and potential secret weapon, says Carlson.
Smith requested a spot on the pro-side of driving and feels lucky to have made the team as they usually split the women up. Owner of a Nissan Maxima, she says, “If I could, I’d have a different car to drive every week. With big bumper bars for hitting bikes.”
Though she grew up pedaling around Christchurch, she got her licence “as soon as I friggin could.” So began her love affair with the car, which includes the freedom to sing as loud as she wants.
“I did actually lose my virginity in the back of a car,” confesses Smith. “It’s embarrassing. I can’t remember the guy’s name, but the car was cool. It was old. It may have had fins.”
Carlson, who recently witnessed a biker get creamed by a car, has plenty of fuel for her pro-car position. “I feel very strongly that everyone should have a car,” she says, even though she has to share a Subaru with her partner. “Have you waited for a bus lately? I would take public transport more if there weren’t other people on it. I have an issue with other people too close to me. It’s a bit of a downer. I don’t mind when I’m alone on the bus, but does that help? Doesn’t that make my carbon footprint worse?”
We’ll see what the other side says.
Car Free Comedy Showdown, Te Papa, 6-7:30pm, September 22.