Shock confession from new Masked Singer judge
Comedian Urzila Carlson has absolutely no desire to don any of the magnificent costumes on The Masked Singer.
Not because she's claustrophobic like her fellow judge Dannii Minogue. Rather because she's a mum-of-two.
"I've got two kids and I know what it is like to be on the inside of any mask and it is sweaty and it is smelly," Carlson laughs down the phone while on quarantine in Sydney before filming Channel 10's bonkers reality show in Melbourne.
"So you know what, no I won't."
Plus she's been seeing the inside of too many masks recently. Certainly of the medical kind. First in the initial strict lockdown conditions of her adopted home country New Zealand and now with Victoria declared a state of disaster.
The 44-year-old brought plenty of masks with her but jokes should she run out she'll make them out of her socks.
"But I only brought the good socks - it's quite the conundrum, I don't want to cut up the good ones for masks. But then you don't want to be walking around with a bad sock on your face."
When we chat, it's Carlson's ninth day in quarantine and she is loving every minute of it. Wife Julia and their daughter and son - she hasn't shared their names publicly - are in New Zealand.
"I wouldn't risk travelling with them (under current conditions) but also what a God damn nightmare it would be to be stuck in a hotel room with two kids. I'd have been making a shiv on the first day," Carlson says.
"I love my own company. I've had a bubble bath every day since I've been here. Because I can. If I try and have a bath at home those kids try and get in with me and that's not what a bath is about.
"That just takes all the leisure time out of it. You know, now I'm sitting on the plug and they make you be on the tap side and the cold water tap that never ever drips normally, will drip on you."
The Masked Singer returns to Channel 10 next week.
And the bonkers scale of the addictive singing competition will be cranked to even higher levels of madness as the most over-the-top costume party will see have masked celebrities - including the Dragonfly, Wizard, Frillneck, Goldfish and Echidna - step into the spotlight for season two.
Carlson was stoked to get the call-up to join host Osher Gunsberg and judges Minogue, Dave Hughes and Jackie O, replacing Lindsay Lohan on the panel.
She wasn't able to watch it live in New Zealand last year.
"Everyone I know - even my friends not in the industry - was all 'I can't talk on the night (it was on)', " she shares.
"And all the next day they'd be brainstorming who they all could be. It was so frustrating to be on the outside. But I'm totally on the inside now."
Her Netflix comedy special might be titled Overqualified Loser, but Carlson's not planning on losing. Or content to just play it for laughs.
We've certainly seen her competitiveness in Have You Been Paying Attention and she's going to bring bags of it to the panel.
She will be swotting up like Minogue who earned the moniker Sherlock for her detective skills last season.
"Every time there's a clue, I think about all the people I've met and could it be one of them you know," Carlson says.
"I think it's going to be harder than I imagine. I might have to lean quite heavily on Hughesy for some tips, You know nudge, nudge, give me some tips. I mean he's been in this industry for a long time and he's interviewed lots of people on the radio, surely he must know …"
She quickly switches to making Minogue her mentor when we remind her that Hughesy wasn't exactly the best guesser last year.
Nor will she be taking dancing tips from her fellow comedian.
"I've seen the clips of Hughesy's dancing and, ah, I'm no great dancer but even I can beat that," Carlson says, with her infectious laugh.
She can dance, but she won't be singing, joking that she's so awful at it she lip syncs Happy Birthday.
"I'm so tone deaf, I can't even knock on a door," Carlson says.
Last year was a mixed bag of celebs from eventual winner, homegrown international pop star - and Miley Cyrus' boyfriend - Cody Simpson, runner-up (and the easiest to pick) Rob Mills, (second easiest to pick) Deni Hines, Kate Ceberano, Adam Brand and Paulini to Brett Lee, Wendell Sailor and Gretel Killeen.
Thanks to COVID, there's unlikely to be any international guests this season.
Carlson hopes her good mate, comedian Nazeem Hussain will be one of those under a mask.
"He's so talented and so musical which a lot of people don't know about him," she says.
"On the one hand I hope it's him and then on the other hand if it is him I'm going to fight him in hand-to-hand command style on the street for not telling me."
While many hopped on the baking bandwagon in COVID times, Carlson says she's always been a fabulous cook and baker rather "like a '50s housewife'. She perfected her drinking instead.
"Like I'm not a big drinker but I learnt I could enjoy cocktails in the day now," she shares, tongue firmly planted in her cheek.
"I didn't know I was that kind of lady. If I want a gin and tonic, I may as well just have it, Why wait all the day gagging for a cocktail?"
She's certainly graduated from the cask - or box wine as she calls it - she jokes about in Overqualified Loser.
"Back in the day in my 20s and 30s, I'd go to a braai, a barbecue, and I'd have one or two boxes," Carlson says.
"It's just easier - if it falls, it doesn't break. It's better for the environment.
"But also it can be lifesaving because you can blow it up and it floats in the pool and then you don't have to worry about floaties for the kids. Honestly, it's really the gift that keeps on giving."
What hasn't been quite a gift is online gigs, while many artists have embraced virtual shows as a way to stay match fit, Carlson's not among them.
She did one as a favour to her brother, dropping into a meeting, following his advice to have a chat and just be funny.
"Everyone's on mute so you can't hear anything," she recalls.
"You need that feedback. You can see people smile but there's just absolute silence and it's insanity. It's like talking to a wall."
Fortunately that happened after just three days in iso, so Carlson knocked back any further online opportunities.
"Honestly, I'd rather go shovel s--t under the sun than do an online gig."
She has been back in front of a real, live audience.
Just before hopping on the plane to Australia, Carlson hosted a show for 700 essential workers in New Zealand where there are few COVID restrictions.
"It was so good to be back on stage - as much as I enjoy my own company and when I am home, I'm a real homebody and don't like big crowds," she says.
"I usually see so many people every week, literally thousands and then all of sudden there was nothing. I was gigging six days a week. I realised I've missed the public, I've missed people and hearing people laugh. I'm super glad we're back."
The Masked Singer, Monday-Tuesday, 7.30pm, Channel 10
Overqualified Loser, streaming now, Netflix
Originally published as Shock confession from new Masked Singer judge