7 October 2023

From Kazador to Kiama: The real story behind comedic character Kiki Bittovabitsch

| Kellie O'Brien
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Kiki Bittovabitsch Kiama

Kiama character Kiki Bittovabitsch has kept many laughing over the years. Photo: Supplied.

Some personas take on a life of their own and Kiama character Kiki Bittovabitsch is one of those.

The alter ego of Kiama comedian Tamara Campbell, the self-described “foreign ambassador of funny” and “forbidden love child of Dame Edna and Borat” has become a larger than life figure in Kiama, on the comedy festival scene, and through her comedy and interview-style podcast The Kiki Tapes.

While chatting to Tamara about Kiki, she offered to “go get her”. What was revealed was the story of a humble girl born in Kazador who ended up a household name in Kiama with her smack-you-in-the-face interactive shows and truth-revealing podcast.

Kiki left the country of Kazador – and admits she hasn’t been able to find it again – and has two stories of how she ended up in Kiama: “The appropriate story and the inappropriate story”.

“I was taking boat until I ran into the Daintree. It really hurt. That’s a very big tree,” she said, in a thick accent.

“So then I was just here, enjoying this place and there no reason to go back because Australia very, very good to refugees.”

Her mother said she came into the world performing but, having come from the land of potatoes, she needed to focus on spud farming until she could finally go professional in her 20s.

“I think I was annoying for people, I was too much,” she said.

“So if there’s lots of peoples looking at me, then there’s lots of peoples get to share the impact, instead of one person having to cope with me.

“It’s quite a lot. I’m a lot.”

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Kiki’s comedy blends improvisation, unfortunate social faux pas and risque moments, which she believes makes her shows more exciting.

“I tell them the truth,” she said.

“I not holding nothing back, but in a way that is funny and playful and I always loving to include other people – shining the light on somebody else and letting them have some fun and be the star for a few minutes as well.

“My show is really very silly. Don’t take it so serious.

“I think in the world these days, we need to not be so serious and not be so uptight about everything and just relax.

“It’s OK to laugh and have fun. In fact, it good for you. You live longer.”

While Kiki can take people out of their comfort zone when she pulls them up on stage, to date all reactions have been positive ones.

“I think mostly it’s my job and my responsibility to be finding the right people,” she said.

“I got good brain for seeing in the souls of the human.

“So most of the time it’s no problem because everybody’s – what you call that – vetted. That sounds like your animal going to a doctor.

“You take good care of the volunteers. I squeeze their hand, I look in their eyes and they know they can trust me.”

Tamara Campbell Kiki

Comedian Tamara Campbell plays the character of Kiki Bittovabitsch, who tours the festival circuit and has her own podcast. Photo: Supplied.

Kiki said much of her shows were improvised, not being one to “sit and write a show”.

“I always have idea and then the idea we play with and then it gets bigger,” she said.

A script for her was like the precipice, while the improvisation was the ability to “jump off the edge into the place of I don’t know because that’s where all the magic happens”.

“So I like to play out and see ooh, what’s going to happen?” she said.

“Maybe that’s why people think I’m a bit risque because sometimes there’s not enough time between head and mouth.”

Having performed at festivals around the world, she’s often seen with Pascale (played by partner Dave Evans), who she said brings balance to the act.

“Also, it’s good to be able to make fun of him because it makes for extra comedy and he’s a bit of an uptight Englishman.”

Kiki will be performing with Pascale again at Kiama’s KISS Arts Fest on 20-22 October and said people could expect “more of the same” in what she described as a beautiful location.

“Of course, you cannot be debating the location right?” she said.

“I come from Kazador. I come from land of potatoes and nothing, and then I live now in this place where everything’s so beautiful.”

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So why would she encourage people to get along to KISS Arts Fest?

“Oh, well, let me just be frank. Actually, not Frank, because my name is Kiki,” she said, laughing.

“I don’t even know what Frank would say or who Frank is.

“Honestly, why would you not come? Like it’s free, but don’t forget that there is donations for some of the shows, so bring the cash in the pocket.

“There’s world class entertainment, huge amount of interactive activities and you get to try out stuff and be part of something.

“You’ll be laughing your bottom off.”

KISS Arts Fest is a free event in Kiama from 20-22 October.

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