Inspirational Southland-born comedian and broadcaster Emma Lange’s faced down some tough challenges in the last 6 years.

But she’s living proof of the power of humour and positive thinking, turning that mindset into a solo show packed with absurdity and honesty.

In 2016, aged just 43, Lange was diagnosed with a malignant, incurable brain tumour.

At the time, she was working the brutal overnight talkback shift on Radio Live in Auckland.

Before that, she’d hosted a morning show on More FM, worked closely with the Topp Twins and carved out a name as a witty comic — her stand-up routines alongside the likes of Rhys Darby, the late Cal Wilson and Michelle A’Court were an unmissable fixture of the 1990s ‘classic’ comedy scene.

Life, on the surface, looked rosy.

But Lange says she wasn’t having a good time of it when she got the ‘‘shocking and terrible’’ news she had brain cancer.

‘‘There aren’t any words in the English language to describe what it was like,’’ she says.

‘‘I had a couple of years making bad decisions, I kinda lost my voice — all of a sudden, lo and behold, I get a tumour.

“The diagnosis was shocking, painful and excruciating, but essentially it was precisely what I needed.

‘‘My big, filthy kitchen drawer was turned upside down; I had nothing left any more.

‘‘It was a lot to cope with, I’m 5 or 6 years on now, but I always knew I’d find something in it.’’

Part of that something is ‘An Almighty Yes’.

Having already written a couple of shows, about 20 years ago, Lange thought she’d write one more.

‘‘This show is different; it’s a show with pathos.

‘‘It isn’t just about the experience of bloody cruddy cancer, it taps into all sorts of challenges we face.

‘‘People have all sorts of tough times, divorce, losing a job, their house burns down … all humans struggle at times.’’

Lange’s written some hysterical characters into her show, including Deaconess Fanny Bribery, a dancing sausage and her inflatable lover, Donny.

‘‘Donny is great, he’s lovely, he’s a good listener and he’s very supple,’’ she laughs.

But intermixed with the humour are some ‘‘very bald moments’’.

She credits a trio of talented female media friends and the support of “phenomenally-talented Jason Smith’’, an Emmy-nominated composer, music editor, writer and producer, with helping turn the idea into reality, noting she ‘‘pissed around a lot — there was a lot of procrastination’’.

She’s already performed the show to positive acclaim in Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin.

Now she’s bringing it home, to Glenorchy and Queenstown.

It’s been variously described as a cloudburst of fresh air and enlightenment, and while the subject matter’s heavy, Lange still manages to bring joy to it, believing Kiwis are in need of a bit of optimism right now.

‘‘Life seems grim at the moment, young people, in particular, are anxious and tentative.

‘‘It’s important we try to find the light.

‘‘It’s hard to do, but it’s the only way to live.’’

Lange was just 15 when she lost her own beloved mum, Frances, to cancer, but says she felt her watching over her when she met an Indian brain surgeon who happened to be in New Zealand on sabbatical.

‘‘It was palpable, she was with me, it makes me want to cry.

‘‘My prognosis was terrible, the tumour was big — it took up a quarter of my brain.

‘‘There was no one available to do my operation, but the thing about that Indian surgeon, we couldn’t have got on better.

‘‘We were kindred spirits, we had the same sense of humour.

‘‘We literally laughed a lot, and he took time to get to know me.

‘‘He really put me in the right frame of mind, he said ‘it’s up to you now, Emma’.’’

He also warned her she’d be different after the operation, but speaking with the comedian and broadcaster, there’s no sign anything’s amiss.

There’s that same sharpness, sense of fun and intelligence and gratitude present.

Lange says she’s not defined by cancer, and once this show’s done she’ll focus on something different.

And while you can’t jazz up a terminal diagnosis that much, ‘‘I think I asked for this one’’.

‘‘Cancer unstuck me, it shoe-horned me out of a bad place.’’

‘An Almighty Yes’, The Headwaters Eco Lodge, Glenorchy, tonight, 7pm, $30, via; Te Atamira, Saturday, April 20, 7pm, $25 waged, $20 unwaged, via

[email protected]

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