Interview with Luke McGregor

By Noel Kelso

Luke McGregor is a stand-up who came to prominence after winning Best Newcomer award at the 2013 Melbourne Comedy Festival. Since then he has continued to perform stand-up both in Australia and the UK and has appeared on television on the ABC’s Dirty Laundry Live with Lawrence Mooney and acting in It’s A Date.
I spoke to him about his new show at the 2014 Melbourne International Comedy Festival – I Worry That I Worry Too Much.

Noel: Do you find it easy to write your routines, or is it more like a long, slow process?

Luke: It can be sometimes. It’s like when you hear a musician say that a song just came to them, it’s the same with comedy. You sometimes get a piece that comes through and it’s fully formed, but it may need a bit of tweeking, but essentially you’ve got it ready to go. Other times you might have a bit you think is funny – or there’s something funny about it and you can’t quite work-out how to word it. Sometimes you just take in front of an audience and just talk it out, and you may have a couple of bad gigs, but eventually you’ll end up with material. Some pieces can take a lot longer than others, definitely.

Noel: You won Best Newcomer at MICF 2013 – is recognition by your peers important to you as a performer?

Luke: yes. You can get very down on yourself when performing and doubt yourself a lot. If you have a bad gig you might actually think about retiring. But with something like that – and when you see the people who’ve wone it previously – it does help. It’s kinda like a nice little thing that you can’t argue with and makes you think that maybe I am doing the right thing. I have a lot of respect for those who have won it before like Ronny Cheung and Matt Okine. Those two guys are just legends. It was really nice to win.

Noel: Did growing-up in Tasmania influence your decision to enter the performing arts?

Luke: I guess so. I did it on a whim. I did my first gig because I went to watch my housemate perform in RAW and someone pulled-out, so I asked if I could get up. And that was how I got into comedy. I think that no matter where I was I would probably end up going into it. I think it was more school that had an influence. I used to try and get away from bullies by making them laugh. So I just kept that up, I suppose

Noel: Your on-stage persona appears nervous and ill-at-ease. Is that purely performance or is it your actual personality just turned-up to eleven?

Luke: Pretty much the second one, yeah. I just don’t try and hide anything which can be good or bad, but I feel that if I’m really open it’s better than trying to hide. I feel people kind of relate to me more if I just open-up and let that come out.

Noel: You traveled to the UK to perform last year. How did you find the audiences across there?

Luke: They were great. Really switched-on. They got subtle stuff and nothing was really lost on them. The comedy that comes from there is incredible. I was really nervous at first because I’d never done anything outside of Australia before, but they were great. There’s just so much of my favourite stuff comes from there. I got into Alan Partridge whilst I was there. I watched all three seasons in one go.

Noel: Which comedians have inspired you?

Luke: Eddie Murphy and Bill Murray were heroes growing up. They have such presence on stage. More recently Zach Galifianakis, David Chapelle, Brian Regan, Chris Rock, Ricky Gervais – there’s quite a few now. Basically anyone who talks about their own experience or view on something as opposed to just jokes. Like Louis CK just talks about his life and is just really open. Chapelle is just a genius.

Noel: You’ve had your fair share of acting roles. Is that something you’d like to do more of or do you just see it as an additional part of your skill-set?

Luke: Yeah. I’d like to do it more. I really enjoy it. I think I should take acting classes, so far Ive been pretty much playing myself with slightly different words. I haven’t really played anyone too different. I haven’t played a tough-guy who rides a motorcycle yet. I think it’s a lot of fun. If I could keep doing both stand-up and acting that would be great.

Noel: So what can you tell us about your show this year – I Worry That I Worry Too Much?

Luke: Well – I’m worried that title is no good for a comedy show. It’s basically a show about me
talking about all the stuff I worry about, seeing if anyone else worries about the same things and then trying to collectively get over it in a funny way. Hopefully people will enjoy it.

Luke McGregor’s show I Worry That I Worry Too Much is on during the Melbourne International Comedy Festival from March 27 to April 20 at The Portico Room, Melbourne Town Hall, corner of Swanston and Collins Streets.