By Lisa Clark
Last year Danny McGinlay wrote a correspondence article for Chortle Au called How to MC. It garnered a lot of positive feedback from the comedy industry and we’ve decided to re publish it here. Danny is currently out and about gigging interstate and has found the time to answer some questions about his career, his Festival show and the MCing article. He has recently performed as part of the inaugural Ballarat Beer Festival and is also an Ambassador for the Festival
What was the Ballarat Beer Festival like?
The Beer Fest was great fun. Four thousand people in the sunshine enjoying craft beer, no arrests. A brilliant vibe and will be even bigger and better next year.
You started at 16, how did this comedy thing come about?
The school I went to [Thornbury High] had a pretty good arts program, especially music. [Jordie Lane is a fellow alumni] I’ve never been particularly musical, but I loved performing and public speaking. The teachers would book me to host the musical nights and I would tell jokes and I guess it kinda grew from there. I played the Espy Hotel four days after my sixteenth birthday and it was a great rush. Although due to being underage I could really do comedy properly until I was 18. Since then I threw myself into it and here I am… still going with no desire to stop!
Who do you look up to or who inspired you in comedy?
My father comes from the same part of Glasgow as Billy Connolly, so growing up I listened and watched a lot of Billy, and every Saturday morning we would listen to The Goon Show on Radio National. I admit now I didn’t understand most of it but when you’re a child you just like laughing along with your parents.
I got right into comedy when I was about nine years old. I remember I taped a special off the tv called “Hey Hey it’s the comedians!” which was all the stand ups who had been on Hey Hey, I must have watched that about 100 times and can still recite a lot of the routines. This was the same time that The Late Show was on ABC, Fast Forward was really strong and I remember I used to fall asleep listening to 12th Man tapes.
These days I still love Billy Connolly, his comedy is just so flexible, whether he’s bantering with the crowd or telling a well prepared routine he looks so effortless. I would love to be like that on stage. Tom Gleeson looks effortless, I just finished a run with Tommy Dean and he is definitely effortless. Adam Hills is probably the most effortless comic in Australia at the moment. I MC’d for Adam a few weeks back and before I brought him on I had what I thought was some really good audience banter, then Hillsy came on and showed why he is the Dumbledore of audience banter. It was really inspiring.
You travel a lot, do you always enjoy the travelling?
You have to travel if you want to make a living from stand up comedy. I do like it, but boredom is a constant struggle. I play a lot of Word with Friends.
Did you live overseas for a while?
I did the customary two years in London that all comedians should do. I could have stayed but ultimately, although the comedy scene is better over in the UK, every other aspect of life is better in Australia.
What’s the reasoning behind your blog about Soccer?
Just like the cooking, it’s a way of turning a procrastination tool into something handy. I love the round ball game and spend a lot of time reading football forums and watching highlights so I thought I would at least turn it into a writing exercise.
You’ve done a lot of things including performing in films and on TV. Would you like to do more acting?
Absolutely! Acting is a great thrill and so different to stand up. You don’t get the immediate acknowledgement, you get to do it in a team and you usually get paid well!
If you had a dream job preferably related to your comedy work, but not necessarily, what would it be?
There’s many dream jobs – Cooking show host, Football Show host, Action Movie star, President of the Republic of Australia. I covet all of these jobs for the main reason that they would increase my profile and I would get more people to my stand up shows. Stand Up is my dream job and the more people I could play to the better!
Last year you wrote an impressive article for Chortle au about MCing a comedy night that we are reprinting in Squirrel Comedy. Did you enjoy the feedback from this article?
Yeah I’ve had some lovely things said to me from younger comics and even some established comics in the UK. The best thing is hearing that people are doing a better job at MCing. It’s a highly undervalued craft and there should be more discussion of how to do it well.
Do you have any general advice to younger comedians?
Read Zen and the Art of Stand Up Comedy by Jay Sankey. It’s brilliant.
I loved Food Dude, How did you end up cooking things live on Stage.
When I procrastinate, I cook. So I would always be trying to come up with comedic ideas whilst I was cooking, so I guess almost inevitably I came up with funny things to cook. People seemed to like the idea so I’ve kept doing it, fingers crossed something happens with it soon!
Do you have an interesting story that came out of the show?
I had a lot of Masterchef and My Kitchen Rules contestants come along, I don’t really watch those shows so I didn’t recognise them but my front of house staff got a thrill. The most exciting thing was, I was told a rumour that Heston Blumenthal saw snippets on youtube and loved it. I hope that’s true!
Your Festival show this year is called Danny McGinlay Learns Ukranian
The subtitle is
How far would you go for a Chick in Kiev
Deary me that has to be up there for one of the most astonishing puns in the Comedy Festival Guide this year!
Did the show come out of the pun or a real story? And did you really learn Ukrainian?
This show is based on a true story, last year I got engaged to my long term girlfriend and decided to learn her native tongue so I could make a speech at our wedding. The pun was conceived in a car in Hobart with comedian Gavin Baskerville. Gav has named a couple of my shows and has a great mind for titles and puns. His fee is a slab of Boags.
You are also doing Squeaky Clean Comedy during the festival this year. Are you planning to pop up anywhere else in the Festival?
I am indeed, Squeaky Clean Comedy is a nice night for people who want it kept nice. If nice isn’t your thing I am also involved in The Dirty Bits which is the direct opposite. It’s a nice compliment that people think I’m versatile enough to do both. There’s a few late night shows around town, Ben McKenzie’s Dungeon Crawl, Letters & Numbers and hopefully the Hi-Fi Bar as well.
Give our punters 5 reasons to see your show over others at the Festival this year.
1. There’s less chance of food poisoning than last year’s show.
2. From the advance bookings, we can tell that some nights there will be a lot of Ukrainians in the audience, and all Ukrainians are ridiculously good looking.
3. My show is on before Dave O’Neil’s so afterward you could meet a real 774 announcer.
4. The show cures the flu.*
5. All other shows are actually fronts for Joseph Kony.
*please allow 6-8 weeks for results.
Danny McGinlay’s Festival show is Danny McGinlay learns Ukranian Details here