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Category Archives: SYDNEY COMEDY FESTIVAL 2011

What do Dylan Moran, Arj Barker, Ross Noble and Stephan Amos have in common? They were all fresh-faced comedians introduced to the world at Bulmers Best once upon a time. I pick the brains of this year’s graduates Carl Donnelly, Tom Allen, and Seann Walsh before they realise their talents are well worth $10 per head.

CARL DONNELLY

It says in the press release that you took up stand-up in 2005. What were you doing before that? I worked in an office as an accounts assistant which was the last of a series of dead end jobs I had done since dropping out of university at the age of 19. I was never cut out for the whole 9 to 5 thing. I had the gift of being able to do the bare minimum of work required to not be fired! One of the worst things I used to do was sneak off for naps in the toilets. I would always go to a toilet on a different floor if I was hungover etc and have a 30-minute snooze around 10am. Then when I came back to my desk I’d pretend I had been in a short notice meeting.

What’s the obsession with covering your feet? What’s wrong with them? I have a strange OCD thing where I feel constantly paranoid when not wearing shoes. I’m convinced I am going to stand on something sharp or kick a door etc. I’ve had it since being a child. So for as long as I can remember, I can only be barefoot when in bed (or in swimming pools, anywhere where it is necessary). This fact is on my Wikipedia page but I have no idea how it got on there.

Are you looking forward to performing in front of an Aussie audience? Of course. One of my favourite things about being a comedian is that danger/excitement of going on stage in front of a room full of people that don’t know you and convincing them you are worth listening to. Doing that in another country is even more exciting as you are talking to people that have a totally different way of life with different cultural references. Obviously the danger exists that they won’t have a clue what I’m talking about but I’m willing to risk it!

TOM ALLEN

What would you be doing if you didn’t make it in comedy? I’ve always had a fantasy about opening up a cake shop – somewhere by the sea. I think it’d be a cake shop that also sold other things (like power tools for example) and it’d close on Wednesday at lunchtime so I’d have time to maybe go to a Zumba class. As a comedian you don’t have any kind of comfy routine so I think I’d enjoy having my evenings to cook dinner, maybe paint a wall or even watch a soap.

Who would play you in the movie of your life? The man from Crocodile Dundee or possibly John Malkovich as we have a similar hair line, though he has a much higher voice. I met him once. He was dressed completely in white.

For Aussies here who don’t know anything about you, why should they come see you? I guess because I’m different (eccentric even? maybe at times odd). I’m obsessed with stories, details and the way we interact with each other – like the time I offered to carry a disabled man’s bag down the stairs but then realised I couldn’t lift it off the ground. For me, live comedy is about finding those things, however odd, that we’ve all got in common, and that make us laugh because we go, “Oh I’m not as weird as I thought”. It’s just relief! If you come, we’re going to have one hell of a good time together!

SEANN WALSH

Time Out London’s called you this generation’s Dylan Moran. Your thoughts? I was very flattered when I read that but it is ridiculous. I think it’s just because I can do quite a good impression of a drunk guy.

What has been the proudest moment in your comedic career thus far? Probably the recording of Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow (Not the edit! I cried when I watched the edit). All I have ever wanted to do was stand-up on primetime television. Everything in my life starting from school was built towards that moment and it couldn’t have gone any better

Your top five favourite comedians? Charlie Sheen, Charlie Sheen, Charlie Sheen, Charlie Sheen and Charlie Sheen

Have you been to Australia before? What are you looking forward to seeing/doing here? I haven’t. Friends that have been told me there’s a great cafe culture in Australia, which is great for me. My favourite thing to do in life when I’m not drunk is to sit outside a cafe, smoking and drinking black coffee all day. I must stink!

Apr 27 – May 8, The Factory Theatre, 105 Victoria Rd, Enmore, $27-$30, 9020 6966, factorytheatre.com.au

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Former thrash metal rocker who has been drumming up controversial topics all over Europe the past decade returns home to give Aussies a dose of Conspiracy Realist. Is he metal, mad or a thought machine? Take a deep breath and leap into the mind of Steve Hughes, if you dare…

You observe and joke about everything from politics to sociology. Are you constantly working even when you don’t want to? How do you stop? I don’t stop. This is my job. It’s not really healthy but this is it. I’ve never been a happy person but I’m not miserable and am quite fun to be around but I can be rather intense for people are who are more content than me. I’ve tried to be more chilled out but alas, that is not my path. Nothing has ever helped except art, music, comedy, performing and pot.

Do you reckon Australians recognise local talent only when they’ve made it overseas? That’s a complex question and a very interesting point I have often thought about myself. I think Australians recognise talent and there is a lot of it here but the cultural conditioning of the establishment which will not recognise talent has an affect on all of us. Its pathological promotion of sport, which I find as a creative and intelligent person utterly offensive, is disturbing.


The establishment finds art too risky a business as it requires contemplation and self analysis, an adventure that has never been promoted in Australia as it may embarrass the over compensating attitude of always trying to look good and moral, not only to the world but also to itself. Australia in my opinion, always embarrasses itself in front of the world by trying not to embarrass itself. It’s lack of honesty about its past, formation and true identity makes it a conservative, conformist even childish environment where real art cannot survive and will not be recognised. This is why most Australians have never even heard of, let alone seen the film Wake in Fright.

What do you look forward to about performing in front of an Australian crowd? I like the fact that Australians, if they like it, laugh from their guts. No bullshit. There’s a rawness to it that I like.

Who are your top five local or international comedians? Well that’s a hard one to answer as I like comics for different reasons. I love comics who speak from their heart,  have an opinion and not care about who likes them, like Glenn Wool, Jim Jefferies and Chris Wainhouse. I also like mad eccentric comics like Paul Foot (UK) who is doing his first ever performances in Oz right now. I like Tommy Tiernan who is amazing as is Stuart Lee, who is a master.

Thanks Steve. Thank you for the interview. Hail the Gods.

Apr 27 – 30, Enmore Theatre, 118-132 Enmore Road, Newtown, $34-$39, 9550 3666, enmoretheatre.com.au

On a 38-degree summer day in Sydney, Danny Bhoy blew into a slightly stifling Gleebooks like a cool breeze when he made a surprise appearance at comedy show Wit Large. He came, joked about Australian animals and left. The audience didn’t know what hit them but they loved every bit of the Scotsman’s lightening speed set. We speak to Australia’s favourite import at this year’s Comedy Festival.

You made an impromptu appearance at Gleebooks earlier this year. Are you warmed up and ready for Messenger (please do not shoot)? Yes, nothing prepares you for a big tour better than a sweltering afternoon gig in the upstairs of a bookshop in Glebe. What’s great about a gig in a bookshop is that you can do comedy and browse the shelves at the same time.

When did you know you wanted to be a comedian? I really stumbled into comedy. I was walking down the Grassmarket in Edinburgh one night when I noticed there was a comedy night on in a pub. I went in to have a look and was hooked. I watched a guy die on stage and thought he was the bravest man I’d ever seen.

You seem to have animated and lengthy conversations with Australian animals. Are they more interesting than the people? I grew up in quite a rural town, so I probably had more animal friends than human friends. I find animals teach us loads of things about the planet which we struggle to understand as humans. My ‘conversations’ with animals are really fantasies of what an animal might say in a given situation if it had a voice. Generally that voice is saying to a human, “Hey, what did you do that for?”

What’s been the highlight of your comedic career thus far? Meeting Billy Connolly was a real highlight. He is such a nice guy and he pretty much invented what we do for a living. He’s my Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Who would star in the movie of your life? What would be the film’s tagline? I think Keanu Reeves would be good, because he would naturally portray how uncomfortable I am in front of a camera. The tagline: How not to use a history degree.

What is the hardest accent for you to attempt? I can do most accents, but I’m not great at the Dutch accent. I always end up sounding a bit like Sean Connery after a stroke.

What haven’t you seen or done in Australia that you’ve really wanted to? I would quite like to do the Bungle Bungles. Just because I really like the name Bungle Bungles.

If comedy hadn’t worked out, what career path would you have taken? I would probably be the funniest bank clerk in Edinburgh.

What did you believe in when you were eighteen, you wish you still believed in today? The right to party.

Until May 7, Enmore Theatre, 118-132 Enmore Road, Newtown, $34-$39, 9550 3666, enmoretheatre.com.au

After 21 years together, John Chaplin-Fleming and Rusty Berther have had Enough Already. So it seemed only right to name their farewell show exactly that. We catch up with John, one half of the musical comedy duo before they sing their big goodbye on stage at the Sydney Comedy Festival.

Why say goodbye now? If we stay together any longer, Rusty gets half my assets and anyway, he’s like the movie Sex and the City 2… Something I never want to see ever again.

If comedians can make music, should musicians make jokes? Not always! Kurt Cobain was a notoriously bad stand-up comic. We’ve been practicing for 20 years, so we hope to do better.

There are a lot more musical comedy acts in the local scene than there were when you guys formed in 1990. Do you think you may have led the way for this genre of comedians? We see ourselves as a link in a long chain of music comedy acts. But perhaps we can lay claim to having inspired some of the acts around today. All the good ones.

Any favourites? Oh no it’s like picking a favorite child. No one will admit they have one but everyone does.

What, right now, have you had enough of already? Late nights at the Adelaide Fringe, waiting for aeroplanes, resetting my watch by half an hour.

What’s the plan after your farewell show? Cup of tea, quick lie down, world conquest.

What did you believe in 1990 you wish you could still believed in today? That my parents could bail me out of any financial difficulty I might get into. Everything else, I still believe in.

Apr 17, Enmore Theatre, 118-132 Enmore Road, Newtown, $34-$39, 9550 3666, enmoretheatre.com.au

There are a few television shows I am guilty watching reruns of. Friends, Sex and the City and Who’s Line Is It Anyway. Greg, Colin, Ryan and Wayne playing with props, singing the hoedown and making Drew Carey the butt of every joke. Ahh… those were the days. Greg Proops, a stand-up comedian in his own right, talks to us about his days at the show and his other job as the voice of Bob the Builder in a quickfire interview.

Is this your first time in Australia? No, I was there in 1997 and did Melbourne and Sydney. I am so looking forward to the fabulous Thai, Italian, Greek and Indonesian food. The other parts of Oz, Perth and Adelaide and Canberra and Brisbane. I love travel and Australia has groovy people and strange animals.

What can Aussie audience expect from your show here? Tears and bitterness. That is backstage, then I do my show. I am sarcastic and snide as well as lovable and cuddly. Spanking machines and pony rides cost extra.

Who is funnier, Ryan Stiles or Colin Mochirie? Why? Ryan is the funniest improviser in the world. Is Colin the older fellow?

What were your days at Whose Line Is It Anyway like? I was on for 14 years so, brief. I loved it. We shot in the UK and Hollywood and the casts are still all my good friends. It changed my life.

What do you and Bob the Builder have in common? We are both animated.

What would you be if you weren’t a comedian? Petty criminal or baseball historian.

Do you prefer stand-up or improvisational comedy? Improv is a group activity. You must give yourself to the will of the mob. Stand-up is my personal revenge on comedy.

What was your worst job? I worked as a schmendrick in a law office. Law can really bring you down.

What did you believe in when you were eighteen, you wish you still believed in today? Sadly, I believe the same things. That the world would be better if rich white guys didn’t run everything.

Apr 16, Enmore Theatre, 118-132 Enmore Road, Newtown, $30, 9550 3666, enmoretheatre.com.au