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Student's dream to take her comedy career from Adelaide all the way to New York City


Being a performing stand up comedian wasn’t always Kushi Venkatesh’s dream. Before she was touring with famous comedians and causing crowds to fall to the floor with laughter, she was (and still is) a gifted tennis player with goals to play at the top. Whether it was fate or just the way things panned out, a shoulder injury put a pause on her tennis career and opened up a new opportunity in the world of comedy.

Entering the world of comedy

While she was at home recovering from her injury, the Year 12 Marryatville High School student thought back to the speech that led to her being elected school captain, written only 20 minutes prior to delivery. While giving the speech she had the whole school sick to their stomach with laughter, a feeling she loved, and the first moment she realised comedy could be something she’d like to pursue further.

With this experience in mind, she entered a local stand-up competition, won, and hasn’t been able to stop since. The feeling of making others smile and laugh is what motivates her to keep going - “it's just the best!” she says. Another motivation for Kushi is trying to bridge the diversity gap within the comedy industry. Specifically when she was growing up she saw a distinct lack of young brown girls in comedy, an issue that she hopes she can work towards fixing.

In her relatively short stand up career since, Kushi’s drive to make others laugh has taken her to some high places. Her favourite moment so far has been when star comedian Blake Pavey asked her to join him on his ‘Literally Dying’ tour. Joining such a renowned young name in Australian comedy - Pavey has over one million followers on social media, as well as regular national media coverage - was an exciting opportunity and a huge boost to her confidence as a comedian.

Other highlights so far include performing at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival in front of a crowd of over 500 people as well as being crowned the funniest teen in South Australia in 2023.

Winning the Edstart Achievement Award

Kushi can now add Edstart Achievement Award winner to her long list of achievements, taking out the Performing and Visual Arts category in 2023. She plans to use her $1,500 grant to further her comedy career, and continue spreading laughter into people’s lives. She has plans to create her own show at Adelaide Fringe in 2024, and wants to use it as a platform to promote young local comedians.

Later next year, Kushi’s going to the USA to play college tennis and study performing arts. She also plans to use some of her grant money to further pursue her comedy career while there, and work towards achieving her goal of performing in one of the world’s biggest centres of comedy - New York City.

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