Interview with Adam Richard about Gaypocalypse, Spicks & Specks, The Shelf and his busy fabulous life

Adam Richard ended 2013 with a milestone, finishing ten years with Matt & Jo on their high rating breakfast radio show for Fox FM last year. This year he begins a new exciting journey as team leader on the revived and refreshed Spicks & Specks on ABC1. It seemed like a great time to have a chat to him about the past and the future.

At the moment Adam is also busy preparing his new solo Festival show Gaypocalypse  which will be his first in seven years, not to mention all the other things he gets up to. But I will. He and Justin Hamilton have been running the pop up boutique comedy night The Shelf  since October 2011 out of which came the podcast of The Shelf which is like listening to mates having a chat. The live Shelf is also like being audience to some friends getting together and performing for a (rather wild) private party. They pride themselves on being unconventional with a great mix of performers from stand-up to the theatrical. Adam’s other podcast is the Talking Poofy podcast or ‘Poofcast’ with performing buddies Scott Brennan and Toby Sullivan. The podcasts seem to be a bit on the back burner for him at the moment, but will be back hopefully when he finds a pocket of time to pop them in.

Lisa: What led you into the crazy world of stand-up / showbiz?

Adam: There were a combination of factors: I used to go to a lot of gigs with Corinne Grant, so I saw what an exciting medium it could be; one of my old school mates, Katie Pinder, was working for Token (and her dad was John Pinder, who created the Last Laugh) so I was being exposed to some of the best comedy in Melbourne; and my friend Ged was running a comedy room called Elbow Grease that I seemed to end up at every Sunday. These things conspired to convince me to sidestep from spoken word into standup.

Lisa: Who inspired you (comedians or otherwise?)

Adam: I was mostly inspired by the comedians I saw every week, people like Wil Anderson, Meshel Laurie, Corinne Grant, Rove, Dave O’Neil, Brad Oakes, Merrick Watts, Dave Hughes, the late Dave Grant; the people who I was working alongside when I first started.

Lisa: Where & when did you start your live stand up?

Adam: Elbow Grease at Nicholson’s in North Carlton (now a block of flats) December 1996. Ged Wood, who was running it, talked me into it at a party the week before. So I technically started out in 1996, but it was one gig in December, and I don’t think you can really call yourself a comedian until you get paid. That was 1997.

Lisa: You made your TV Debut on Hey Hey its Saturday, was that on Red Faces?

Adam: No. It was my commercial tv debut, I was booked to do standup by the divine Pam Barnes. I had already appeared on the ABC on the Raw Comedy National Final and on Foxtel’s Comedy Channel documentary with Carl Barron.

Lisa: I hear you studied Cinema Studies at LaTrobe Uni for a short time

Adam: Yes I did. Until I came to a realisation during a tutorial where we were talking about Doris Day in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much, and I thought “I don’t need to incur a HECS debt for this! I’m a gay man, I can talk about Doris Day at the pub!” 

Lisa: Do you think you perform differently for a gay audience than a straight one?

Adam: I don’t do a huge number of ‘gay’ gigs, but I pretty much give the same performance no matter who is watching. I believe in audience equality.

Lisa: Have you ever had an audience that hasn’t coped with your homosexuality (and/Or) have audiences become more accepting?

Adam: Depends how putrid I’m being. I have had individuals be completely horrified by the fact that I have a voice, and I’m not hiding my sexuality from them, which is what they would prefer.

Lisa: Did being on radio help with audiences knowing what to expect from you.

Adam: Radio audiences are awesome, but chatty! They get so used to participating in the show, being able to ring up and be part of the fun, that if you ask a rhetorical question on stage, they have a tendency to answer you with a story from their own life. You have to politely rebuke them; “you haven’t called thirteen ten sixty, love, this isn’t the fox.”

Lisa: It has occurred to me that your radio persona may have restricted your choices in Festival material. Did you choose your material (often about celebrity gossip) to suit those audiences and will that change somewhat, now do you think?

Adam: Actually, my radio job came out of what I was doing on stage. I did a show in 1999 called Adam Richard in Disgrace which was about gossip mags like the New Idea and Woman’s Day. Talking about celebrities became part of my club and touring routine after that, so that’s what I ended up talking about on Triple J in 2002 and the Today Network from 2003 to 2013. We only really love the kind of gossip about celebrities that we want to hear about the people we know at work and at home; relationship breakups, weddings, babies, death, etc. Those everyday things are what I talk about in my shows, sometimes about celebrities, sometimes about me. That, and zombies.

Lisa: Are you involved with the radio gossip site Scoopla ?  Or is it a clean break?

Adam: No more Scoopla for me. No more Southern Cross Austereo at all! Well, I am still appearing on some of their shows, as well as shows on other networks, as part of my job doing publicity for Spicks and Specks.

Lisa: Has it occurred to you that you have helped pave the way for younger gay comic performers like Josh Thomas, Tom Ballard and Joel Creasey?

Adam: I don’t think I can take the credit for that. I think our society is more accepting of homosexuality than it once was, which has made it easier for comedians to be themselves on stage. If I inspired any of them because they thought they’d be better at it than me, that would make me very happy. A lot of gay men will say to their friends “I’m funnier than him!” but that’s as far as it goes, and it’s easy to say. Getting up and doing the work, day after day, that is hard.

Lisa: I adored Outland

Adam: Thank you!

Lisa: Have you ever thought about doing standup or even a comedy show specifically about your not-quite-so-secret-anymore nerdy side? Do you think there is a comedy audience for that?

Adam: Gaypocalypse will be dealing with some of that. There are zombies on the poster and in the show. Many references to The Walking Dead, for instance. There is a big thread of upheaval and change in my show, so it might seem like a regeneration episode of Doctor Who.

Lisa: Has The Shelf helped you deal comedically with all of that?

Adam: What Justin and I talk about on The Shelf podcast are the kinds of things we’d talk about on the phone, or at a cafe. Well, maybe not entirely, because we have a tendency to get into a shock spiral when we’re alone, where all the most horrendous thoughts and ideas come out and we egg each other on until one of us says “too much.” Which almost never happens.

Lisa: Has The Shelf been a rewarding experience for you? (both live & podcasting)

Adam: The live show is one of the best things ever. I absolutely adore it. I had grown quite fatigued by seeing comedians deliver their tightest material to every single audience, as if the comedy circuit was some kind of bizarre ongoing audition process for a tv show that isn’t on anymore. Those rooms are great for that, and I love playing them, but rather than occasionally subverting the paradigm of a room that is functioning really well as is, it seemed there needed to be a room where comedians could blow off steam whether in a chat, or a sketch, or in the case of Claire Hooper, bizarre arts and crafts. Justin pretty much programs the room, because he does so much more standup than I used to, and he sees who is out there who would relish a chance to do this kind of batshit crazy comedy night.

Lisa: Will your podcasts/poofcasts keep going?

Adam: I don’t have access to the radio studio anymore, but hopefully I can work something out. I haven’t done a solo show in 7 years, and I have never done a weekly TV gig, so I am just sorting out how much time all of that takes before indulging in what is, essentially, vanity broadcasting.

Lisa: Will Festival performing become more difficult (do you think) because of the Spicks n Specks workload. Or will it be easier for not having to be up at godawful o’clock?

Adam: Getting up at 4am is easy. It’s like ripping off a bandaid. It’s the afternoons that are hard. Your brain turns to mud some time after 2pm and you can’t function. You fall asleep around 8pm and your social life is nonexistent. Festival is going to be punishing, because I am working 22 days in a row without a break, doing three stage shows and one tv show all in front of live audiences. I just hope I come out the other end not looking like Hairy McClary.

Lisa: Will you acquire a different audience because of being on the ABC do you think?

Adam: I don’t really know. I was on Spicks and Specks as a guest a number of times, so I don’t know that being on the show every week will make that much of an impact in whether people come to see Gaypocalypse. I am really proud of it, as a show, so far, and I have done a lot more work on it than I would have been able to if I had breakfast mudbrain every afternoon, so I at least hope people come and see what I can do when I’ve had a decent night’s sleep!

Lisa: Are you prepared for the Aunty fan club backlash (they seem to vociferously HATE any change to any aspect of the ABC)

Adam: Weirdly, that fear of change is one of the core themes of Gaypocalypse. The fear our society has that if we allow asylum seekers to have refuge here they will somehow destroy our way of life; the fear that allowing same sex couples to marry will somehow destroy our way of life; the fear that broadcasting a music quiz show without Adam Hills will somehow destroy our way of life.

Lisa: Now we’ve all seen Spicks & Specks on the telly, it looks like a whole heap of fun. Has it been that much fun to do?

Adam: More! It was always a fun show to do in the past, and it is just as fun now. Josh, Ella and I are the only new kids on the block. Everybody behind the scenes has been there for years, and worked with Adam, Myf and Alan. We are in very safe hands, so we just have to turn up and have fun, to be honest. It’s like going to work at an awesome party every week.

Lisa: Do you think this will put you on a different plane or level of fame in Australia?

Adam: Fame should not be a goal, because it is a not an end in itself. Fame doesn’t pay the bills, and fame isn’t something you can list as one of your skills on a CV. Kim Kardashian is famous, but what does she do? I have a job, I enjoy entertaining people, I love making people laugh, if fame is a byproduct of that, and it gives me the freedom to do even more work that I love, then I’m not going to shun it, but I’m not going to chase it around you end up looking like a puppy chasing its tail.

Lisa: What is Gaypocalypse going to be about?

Adam: Gay zombies. Fundamentalists have been predicting apocalyptic disasters if marriage equality is permitted what if they’re right? What if gay marriage will lead to gay zombies wandering around Bunnings, terrorising Aussie battlers? What if gay marriage actually means the end of gay culture and gay society? Will it be the ultimate irony if achieving marriage equality is the thing that makes us all go away?

Lisa: Is this a more politically motivated show than you’ve done before?

Adam: Like all my shows, it’s ultimately quite personal. It’s about my own private Gaypocalypse, and the destruction of my world that was necessary to bring about a new and better one.

Lisa: Will you always be Fabulous?

Adam: Given the meagre budgets at the ABC, I will now insist on being billed as The Affordable Adam Richard. 

Adam Richard – Gaypocalypse is on at The Adelaide Fringe Festival in the Rhino Room from March 4

Adam Richard – Gaypocalypse will also have a season at this year’s Melbourne Comedy Festival from March 28 

Interview with Tony Martin.

By Lisa Clark

Tony Martin is a legend in Australian comedy with a huge loyal fanbase of punters and comedians alike. There are not many performers with fan websites lovingly devoted to previous work such as The Late Show (, Martin/Molloy ( or Get This ( to name a few, years after the programs stopped airing. Tony is the dream guest for most podcasters and the dream interviewee for this Squirrel. He was kind enough to find one and a half hours for an interview during this year’s Melbourne Fringe Festival.

If this were an old media article, the interview would be, no doubt, significantly edited, but as space isn’t an issue here I’ve only edited it for grammar and the occasional potentially libelous content. He made me laugh throughout and mimicked most of the voices that he quotes.

Tony has been very busy recently working on Upper Middle Bogan on the ABC and is looking forward to the release in the UK of Ross Noble’s new series Freewheeling for which he was a Creative Producer. When I interviewed him Tony was in the middle of the Melbourne Fringe Festival run of The Yeti (in which he performs a whole chapter from his autobiographical book Lollyscramble) his first Solo Festival show in thirteen years, at the adorably kitschy Butterfly Club. His last solo festival show was A Quiet Word with Tony Martin in 2000. Though he did read out some stories from Lollyscramble in Tony Martin Reads Stuff Out at The Bella Union Bar in 2011 and has popped up in literary festivals and comedy rooms occasionally, such as his regular appearances at The Shelf over the last couple of years which always sets off waves of excitement around Melbourne. He gives some insight here of what may have shied him away from comedy festivals and sounds positive if a little nervous about his return.

Tony also gives us a lot of fabulous information about early live performances by him and comedy friends in Melbourne, for those out there keen to update Wikipedia or fan pages. He kindly offers up an idea for a government grant, documentary or possible PHD study, and confides in us his secret to a long career in comedy.
He also reveals that Ross Noble is actually a Superhero.


Lisa: How has the run of The Yeti been?

Tony: It’s been good, what I’ve learnt is, it’s the sort of show I should’ve done earlier in the evening. I’ve done eight O’Clock shows and nine O’Clock shows & it goes considerably better at eight O’Clock and I’ve realised that in the nine O’Clock shows people have had a lot more to drink and I think they are expecting it to just be normal standup. I have noticed in the later shows that there are a lot of drinks on the stage and as I’m essentially performing a play I can’t really refer to too many things. The first two were at eight O’Clock and they went really well. The next three went OK but they were really only laughing at the big jokes. Then I went back to eight O’Clock last night and it was the best it’s ever gone. So I thought ‘Note to Self: only do things like this early’.


Lisa: What is it like saying the same thing over and over? At least stand up can be tweaked but The Yeti is a form of verbatim theatre.

Tony: I’ve snuck in two extra jokes, but apart from that, it is actually word for word.

Well the reason I did it really is because I had so many people asking me to do the story, whenever I do book festivals and things. You can’t really read it out, because it’s got all those character voices, so it demands to be acted. One idea was to turn it into stand up. Although I remember, years before I wrote Lollyscramble, I did actually do a version of The Yeti in standup and it absolutely died in the arse. I realised later that in order to get the story down a standup length of about three minutes I had to sort of accelerate it and smooth it out and I don’t think anyone believed it. People were looking at me like ‘No way that happened.’ Whereas, when you’ve got fifty minutes you can leave in all the messy real life stuff. I was thinking of actually converting it to standup but so many of the laughs are in the narration, in the way the narration is so sort of flowerily worded as opposed to the rather blunt things the characters are saying… you just learn. Franklin Ajay was in the audience last night and he was saying to me afterwards (Tony doing an impression of Franklin) “You could turn that into a kind of a sitcom like Fawlty Towers, you know all those characters living in that house” And I’m thinking, Yeah, but what he hadn’t noticed is that so many of the laughs actually come from the reaction of the narrator to the things that are said. If you stripped away the narration it’d be quite ordinary actually. So in the end I thought yeah; I’ll just perform it exactly the way it’s written and because so much work had gone into editing that story for the book, I remember thinking, well, the work’s been done.  I could spend two months trying to turn it into a more standuppy show but  at the end of that there’d be as much work as went into the actual writing of that story or the whittling down really of that material. They’re very hard stories to…

When you write you basically take everything you can remember and then you just throw it on the floor and go “Right, is there a story in all of this or is just a bunch of anecdotes? What is the difference between an anecdote and a story?” And of course because it is something that was said twenty years ago, your memory only remembers odd things. It’s funny but when you ask someone to describe ‘OK you lived in a house twenty years ago, what do you remember of that year?’ you won’t remember everything in order, you’ll remember really odd, particular things, you will have forgotten months of mundane activity. So it’s a very odd series of building blocks to try to construct a story from, as opposed to if you were writing a fictional story about some people living in a house. You’d go ‘Well I need a bit so I can get from there to there, I need a proper ending. Whereas those biographical stories are ones where you’ve got to make a story from the only available parts which are the bits you can remember.


Lisa: There is so much information in your stories, we get some evidence of your hoarding of keepsakes at the end of The Yeti, but do you keep a diary at all?

Tony: I don’t now, it’s a pain in the arse. I just did this big tour around England with Ross Noble and we’re working 12 – 16 hour days and the last thing you want to do at the end of the day is write a diary, but because I was in England, I actually made myself write a diary every night, sometimes for two and a half hours

Lisa: Wow

Tony: So I’ve only started doing that lately, but I don’t really keep a diary but I’ve always kept notes of things people say, because what I’ve discovered is that someone says something funny in a conversation, even if it’s hilarious, when you come to tell someone three days later, you’ve usually changed the wording, you’ve usually forgotten the wording or you’ve often tidied it up and it’s not as funny. So when I hear someone say something funny I try and write it down exactly the way they said it. Like in that story from The Yeti when Gunter say’s ‘SO BLARDY FLARSH DEM TURTS!’ he doesn’t say ‘So flush them bloody turds’ the way you would say it, he says ‘So Blardy Flarsh dem Turts!’ The bloody is in the wrong place in the sentence and but it’s more like something someone would say. So I do try with phrases and things, I’ve always kept quite detailed notes. It’s not so much keeping notes, it’s just that when something funny happens….like all the stories in those books involving my family when I was growing up, they’re stories that’ve been going round for years in our family. We’ve all told those stories. Like when Skippy came to our town and fireworks night. They are quite well known in my circle.


Lisa: I loved your show at The Shelf, Do you think you could turn your slide night into a show?

Tony: Laughs ‘I’ve had a few people say that to me and I’ve never considered it. It’s been so long since I did a standup show and I do want to do another one at some point that it sort of feels like cheating to have pictures. It feels lazy almost. But I notice that a lot of standups now have Dave Gorman style PowerPoint presentations. That was fun because a lot of the jokes had already been written on Twitter. In fact I think pretty much all of those photos I’d already shown on my twitter. So I had a lot of material already and I remember driving in thinking “Gee, if everyone there follows me on Twitter…but it seems like no one there did”

Lisa: Well we were laughing! Because it was funny anyway and it was a bit different and more detailed

Tony: I think you could make a show out of it, I liked the way that Adam Richard was just moving onto the next one real quick and you could have one picture and one joke and then go straight on to the next one. I thought, that’s interesting, I’d love to do a show like that where you flip through a lot of pictures really quickly. I dunno, Hammo’s (Justin Hamilton) keen for me to a bit more of that. I try and do something every time he does a series and I try to make most of them. It’s often not planned he just says (starts to do Justin’s voice) ‘Why don’t you come down?’ and it depends if I’m working or not, or if I’ve got something to do. I like the way he tries never to repeat anything on those nights. So I don’t think I’ve ever done the same thing twice, I’ve done standup spots, I’ve read out articles of mine. I did one where I read out a lot of phoney, angry letters to the editor I’d written and I’ve done a slide show. So I try and do something different every time. What I really wanted to do and Damnit, Paul F Tompkins beat me to it. I wanted to spend a lot of money and have a costume made of that bloke in Boardwalk Empire with half his face missing. Richard Harrow (played by Jack Huston) lost half his face in WW1, so he wears a tin mask over half his face and it’s a really fun voice to do. It would cost a fortune but I was thinking of having a full Richard Harrow costume made for just a one off appearance at The Shelf and then Damnit Tompkins beat me to it. He started doing it on the Comedy Bang! Bang! podcast and then he’s done a thing for Funny or Die where he’s wearing the full gear. So, can’t really do that now. Damn you Tompkins!


Lisa: I wanted to ask you about you’re early live Standup experience because there is nothing much online, it’s really hard to find out about old live comedy performances. There are no old records kept.

Tony: I remember the first I ever heard about the Internet was on the front cover of Time magazine in 1994 and then I think I got the Internet in 1996. Already there was comedy nerd stuff on there, but there’s a real gap. You get comedians now who’ve done five gigs and already all of them are on You Tube. Whereas there’s this incredible gap of Melbourne comedy that’s not been preserved. I’ve been trying for years for somebody to do something with all the Espy Comedy videos. I started doing comedy there, (at The Esplanade Hotel in St Kilda) it rather notoriously ran for one month shy of ten years when Trev Hoare, the man that ran it was ousted in a rather ugly coup. There should be a documentary about it. Peter Grace, who produced Martin/Molloy, used to be the kind of tech at the Espy and he had a camera set up. I don’t think it was recording the proper sound, like through the microphone or anything. Trev Hoare used to sit in his office and behind him was a huge wall of VHS tapes. It was just thousands and thousands of hours. They ran a camera across everything for years. I think someone told me they didn’t get the first two or three years but Gracie told me it was something like two thousand video tapes and it would require a huge effort for someone to transfer them and go through them all. It’s like a government grant should be given for someone to try and corral all that material. There could well be a great documentary in it and I know there are quite a lot of legendary Anthony Morgan and Greg Fleet things there; it’s just too big a job. I see Trev Hoare every five years I go “What’s happened to all those tapes?” and he goes (Does the voice) “Aw I’ve still got the tapes Tone” but that would fill in a gap if someone could get into all that material.

I started out doing standup at The Gershwin Room (in the Esplanade Hotel) when they did this brilliant thing called The Delivery Room. It started as weekly and only ran for five months. No-one can actually pin down the date, but I know I was on at the third one. I’ve got it written down somewhere, it was early December 1990. It must’ve started around November 1990 and it went through to Comedy Festival 1991, when they did a great show called Gift from the Gobs. Which there’s actually an album of. That was the famous Delivery Room, with The Rope, where they had the rope hanging from the ceiling and you couldn’t do old material, you’d have to go over and hold the rope. People would yell out ‘Rope’ if they recognised an old joke.

Lisa: I remember that and I saw a show in Edinburgh a few years ago that did that too.

Tony: Yeah, because that’s become quite famous and often overseas comedians that would come on Get This would say ‘I’ve heard about the rope thing you used to do here’. So I think the rope thing they did in Edinburgh is probably copied from the Espy Comedy one.

What was great about those five months is I just remember so much material was generated. It was a new three and a half hour show every week. People weren’t just writing standup, they were writing sketches and there was a dance troupe that did this terrible choreography and Anthony Morgan wrote this brilliant news report every week. Pretty much The Melbourne comedy scene, which was of course much, much smaller in the 90s was fuelled for about four years by the material that was created in those five months. Then, after that Espy Comedy continued through the 90s but they didn’t have the Rope policy after that.

Lisa: There is nothing on Wikipedia about all of this.

Tony: Wikipedia is great in general but once a year I’ll go have a look at my page and it’s riddled with inaccuracies. Not that I care, ‘cause I know that if someone fixes it, a week later my name will be Penis again.

Lisa: So did you do any Festival shows as such?

Tony: Gosh… I’ve done four Comedy Festival shows but I’ve only done one on my own. The first one I did was with the D-Generation in 1991. We did a show at Le Joke called Midnight Shenanigans. That was quite a famous show at the time. Have you ever been to Le Joke?

Lisa: Yes, but I didn’t see that, I actually saw The D-gen’s very first show downstairs at The Last Laugh in 1984

Tony: Would that have been “Let’s Talk Backwards”?

Lisa: Yes, I think so!

Tony: Yes that’s the one that most of them came from, then Magda and others were in the next years one called Too Cool for Sandals. We did a show, that was with everyone from The Late Show series one, so not Judith, and then John Harrison, who was in Let’s Talk Backwards, we dragged him away from his proper job and we did a show at Le Joke. Le Joke was upstairs at the Last Laugh. I think it held about 120 people but it was really small. It was the most expensive show, I think we were paid about $500 a week to do the show and we spent thousands on really elaborate props and we had a cart system in the days before laptops and we had TV monitors and we had Santo the Magnificent. His disappearing cabinet had to be dragged up the back steps. People would come along and couldn’t believe how elaborate it was in this tiny room. So that was the first Comedy Festival show I did. Then I did one the following year in ’92, I did one with Mick Molloy, Greg Fleet and Matt Quattermaine, called The Show with No Name at Le Joke. I can’t remember a lot about that but it opened with a musical version of Cape Fear and it closed with us singing the Daniel Boon theme song but we changed the words to Jesus Christ. So it was ‘Jesus Christ was a man’. There was occasionally boos for that.

Then we did The Late Show and in 1994 I did a Comedy Festival show at the National Theatre, ‘cause that was when we were quite huge. Me and Mick & Judith Lucy did a show called Martin, Molloy & Lucy in fact. I didn’t do standup when we did Martin/Molloy and then I went all the way back.

What happens with me is that I don’t do standup for a few of years and then it’s like going back to being a tryout all over again, so I went to Edinburgh with Judith. I probably would never have done standup again after Martin/Molloy ‘cause, four years is a long time in Standup. While I was doing Martin/Molloy all these new people like Dave Hughes had come along and suddenly there was massive amounts of comics around so I was a bit intimidated. Then Judith Lucy did this great thing, she was going to Edinburgh to do her show called ‘The Show’ and I think she had a one and a half hour slot but the show was only seventy minutes, so she said to me ‘Why don’t you do twenty minutes at the top, I won’t put you on the poster’. It was quite rare for someone to have a support act in their festival show in Edinburgh. So I got to go up and do twenty minutes every night supporting her and it wasn’t advertised and no-one knew who I was which was great, it meant that the material was judged on the material and I started to build up a completely new act.

Then I did a show called A Quiet Word with Tony Martin which is nothing to do with the TV show that I did. That was in the year 2000 and that was the first solo Comedy Festival show that I did and that was actually nominated for The Barry Award. I remember Fleety (Greg Fleet) and Alan Brough were nominated as well that year for something called Interrogation but The Boosh won as well they should. But I haven’t done a show since then really which was fourteen years ago.

I did standup for about four or five years in the early nineties and then didn’t do it again ‘til what I just described. I remember there was quite an ugly…It was quite interesting when I did that Quiet Word show because there was a notorious rock journalist from Britain, I think he wrote a book about Nirvana. He  reviewed comedy festival shows for The Age that year and he wrote a really nasty review claiming my show was racist. I had to actually phone him up and ask him ‘What was the racist bit?’ and it was a fraction of a quote, an innocuous bit where I quoted word for word a conversation I’d had with this Scotsman (and in fact I’m technically Scottish, because my family are from Scotland) but it got into the papers that I was doing this racist show, although it didn’t explain what.

I always remember going to see my blood specialist who was Egyptian and he was coming into the room with my file to basically tell me if I was going to die or not, so you’re waiting for that information, and without looking up from his clipboard he just goes  ‘My ahhh, my receptionist tells me you’re doing a racist show’. 

He’s doing the Egyptian accent and we laugh despite ourselves.

So it was quite ugly, because the reviewer was writing for both The Age and Inpress, so I had The Age and the Inpress calling me racist and yet at the same time I was also nominated for The Barry Award, so it was an odd experience and I didn’t do standup for a few years after that.

I’ve mentioned Trev Hoare before, cause I’m such a fan of his, but he started up a room in Milano’s Tavern Sandringham do you remember that?

Lisa: No!

Tony: Every now and then he’ll just start a comedy room in a bizarre place. He was the one who did comedy at Young & Jacksons a few years ago on Monday nights.

Lisa: I remember that, I went to that

Tony: I used to go there and do spots. What was great about Milanos was that it was just out of town enough that there were never any comics in the audience. There would often be only twenty five people in the audience but it was a really good place to try out new material and if it went badly no-one would ever hear about it. So I think I went there every night for months and that was again like going all the way back to the beginning and starting all over again.

Lisa: I’ve heard this from another comedian; do you find it a bit intimidating sometimes having the comedians in the room, like they used to be up the back at The Prince Pat?

Tony: Well, it depends how many there are. Up the back of The Prince Pat was fine, because then you’d have, maybe 200 punters as well, but I remember (I’m not going to name any rooms) but I remember there was a couple of rooms that I used to go to in the early noughties where there would be forty people in the room and twenty of them would be comedians. Of course there’s no tougher audience than comedians for comedy. So I’d go ‘I don’t want to go try out new stuff with twenty comedians there’.


Lisa: I heard that you put up Internet Movie Data Base pages for obscure Aussie TV comedies that didn’t have their own page?

Tony: Well mainly New Zealand movies. I think Karl Chandler, seems obsessed with this, but in fact most of my IMBD work has been New Zealand movies. When the Internet started the IMDB only had two New Zealand movies in it and I had a project in the nineties when I first got the Internet to try and get every single New Zealand movie on it, which is something like four hundred and fifty, so it took me three and a half years and I did it.

Lisa:Well done.

Tony: So when I finished I started adding obscure Australian comedy shows like Brass Monkey and things like that.

Lisa: It’s obvious that you love movies but I suspect you have a particular, possibly goulish love for really bad/trashy films. Is that true, or do you just love movies in general?

Tony: Yeah, well, I like good and bad movies. I remember that when I was in Edinburgh, I was watching so much comedy and so much great comedy that eventually you go ‘Let’s go and see some BAD comedy’.


Lisa: I was impressed that you spent your money from Martin/Molloy to make your own films.

Tony: It was always something we used to talk about. It was something we used to do on the breakfast show. It all came about because we did these pilots for The Late Show in 1990 and we went out to the car park with home video equipment, which no-one ever did, and shot sketches. We shot test sketches, we thought, we’ll film it on home video and if they’re any good and the show gets up we’ll re-film them again properly. But there was just some kind of quality to these crappily low budget, shot on home video in a car park sketches, they looked like shit, but they had this life to them! What we found is that, when we were doing sketches on the D-Generation they would spend so long lighting them and they would do eight or nine takes and they’d use take nine because that was the one where the camera moves were perfect but it was probably the one where the actors were exhausted and not funny. Whereas when we shot the stuff on home video we went aw well let’s just use the takes where it’s funny. Who cares if it looks like shit.

That was such a lesson to us, so when we did The Late Show on TV we spent literally hundreds of thousands of dollars of our own money shooting our own sketches and films and post producing them ourselves. That’s how Frontline came about, that’s how they ended up being able to direct Frontline themselves on really small cameras.

Lisa: Some of those Late Show sketches still stand up today on line

Tony: So I thought well that’s a really good lesson, investing in yourself. You know, we were young, we didn’t have any children. Occasionally I’ll go, maybe I should’ve hung onto some of that money. With the film Bad Eggs, if I hadn’t invested my own money I don’t think I would’ve been allowed to direct that myself. I didn’t have any directing credits up to that point, apart from doing sketches on The Late Show and the Mick Molloy Show. Yeah, I put three hundred grand into that film and it sort of opened doors. I think the head of Village Roadshow said ‘Woah we’ve never had someone offering to put their own money into their film’. It’s a cliché but it’s one you hear all the time, “The first rule of the film industry is never put your own money in because you’ll never see it again”. Although Bad Eggs has actually slowly but surely finally recouped all its money. Of that three hundred grand I think I’ve made about fifty grand of it back and I wasn’t expecting to see any of it, so that’s been a bonus.

Lisa: Well I liked it

Tony: It’s not for everybody, that film, but it does have a following. It was very popular in Germany, like David Hasselhoff’s music. It got rave reviews in Germany where it was known as Mit vollem Einsatz! which means ‘With Extreme Force’. [though literally translates as With Full Use]


Lisa: I read how hard you worked on Martin Molloy – basically from the moment you woke til going to bed, was it the same with Get This?

Tony: It was and possibly Get This even more so. Well we don’t have writers or anything. With Get This because I was paying everyone, (my company was making that show), I felt I wasn’t paying Richard and Ed enough to demand that they give their entire lives over to the show. So I was the one writing the sketches for that show…oh no no, that’s not fair! Because Richard and Ed would often write their own sketches, but not everyday. Martin/Molloy was very scripted, although now, ‘cause we’ve said that so much in interviews, I think people think that everything was scripted. Obviously when we were talking to callers or interviewing people that wasn’t scripted, and some of the mucking around in the second hour obviously wasn’t scripted. That whole first hour where we would do those long rants and things; that was all written.

For Martin/Molloy we’d get in at 10am and work all day ‘til 4 and then the show would go from 4 – 6pm then I’d go home and write ‘til, midnight and you’d be up first thing reading the papers. You’d have to read all the papers, there wasn’t the online aggregate, where the whittling was done for you. It was just a huge amount of work and the production was… now you can build an elaborate sketch quite quickly on a computer, but computers where much more primitive in the 1990s. So Vicki Marr who was the Matt Dower of Martin/Molloy would spend hours on it, I remember being there ‘til midnight some times. Mick putting down a sketch that probably only went for two minutes fifteen and was probably only ever played twice. That was all kind of part of what we were trying to do.

We weren’t interested in being ‘radio personalities’, that’s not why we were doing the show. We just wanted to do a comedy show. We wanted to do a radio show that was like a TV show where you wouldn’t want to miss any of it. As opposed to a radio show that goes for three hours but you know ‘I hear about twenty minutes of it’. We’re going No No, we want people to listen to the whole thing like they would watch a TV show. So that was our rather pompous sort of declaration. The standard we set for ourselves.

Some of it sounded a bit stilted because we were sitting there reading off spirax books, but because there was nothing else like it, the novelty got us through a lot of the time. Whereas by the time we got round to Get This that style, that read out style had become a bit out of fashion, so I would write things, but I would try to do them from memory or use point form lists so that it wouldn’t sound as stilted. There was still just as much, or even more work that went into Get This as Martin/Molloy.


Lisa: Do you think you’re a bit of a workaholic?

Tony: Oh, not really. I think of myself as quite lazy. I’ll try and get out of work whenever I can. It’s just fear, with radio it’s just this beast that eats up every idea that you’ve ever had. So you put in a really big day’s work then you go home and you’re back to zero and you go, right what’ve we got for tomorrow? You want it to be good, sooo…. but it’s not through any desire to be a workaholic. It’s just that, this is how much work you have to do to make a show like that any good.

Lisa: Not everybody would say that.

Tony: Well I’m not saying it’s the only way to do a radio show. I mean someone like Marty Sheargold, (now I’m sure Marty does a lot of preparation) he’s got the genius of sounding like it’s all coming off the top of his head. A show that’s had a lot of work put into it can often sound like that and it’s hard to listen to, whereas radio, especially FM radio is at its best when it’s relaxed casual and you just go ‘Well here’s something I found in the paper’. The problem is that the radio year is a long year and by August most people are fucked. So if you can think of a way to do a show where you don’t have to kill yourself every day, well Done!


Lisa: Do you think you might do another stint on radio one day, maybe even the ABC?

Tony: I don’t know if I really fit in on The ABC. They have a bizarre rule where they only have one host and so they have a man or woman in a room talking to themselves. Whereas the kind of radio I’ve always done is talking to an actual person.


How has working on 3RRR been?

It’s great! Obviously you’re not being paid, it’s volunteer radio, but I remember after the sort of quite unpleasant last few months of Get This, I remember going and doing shifts with Tony Wilson and talking quite uninhibitedly for long amounts of time about obscure things. He’d go to a song and the door would burst open and Mick James the station manager would come in and I’d think ‘aww… we’re going to cop it!’ and he’d go ‘GREAT! Do more of THAT!’ So that was great, but you can’t make a living, although that’s not fair, I think the Breakfasters get paid a very small amount of money to do that show but really it’s all volunteer radio and I love doing it but I can’t do it full time.

Lisa: Is there any chance you might do some more episodes of ‘A Quite Word With’ on the ABC? Are there more people you’d like to interview?

Tony: We did pitch a third series, there were budget cuts at the ABC and they didn’t want to do another series of that. There were hundreds of people I would’ve liked to talk to but we did two series of it and for the second series I got to go to England which was quite exciting, though we were only there for four days. We got Rob Brydon and Richard E Grant and a few people who we wouldn’t have got if we’d just waited here for people to come. You don’t get as many people coming out here anymore, unless there’s a festival on and obviously you’ll get some comedians. It was a very cheap show really, it was mostly just shot in a bar. I’d love to do some more. I’ve often thought of bringing it back just as a podcast, but finding the time…

Lisa: I don’t know if you can make much money out of podcasts either

Tony: There are so many podcasts and people are always saying ‘Why don’t you have a podcast’ but it would be like a radio show. It would take up so much of my time. I have to say, we already have some good ones, I mean Justin Hamilton does a great one [three in fact, but I think Tony is referring to Can You Take This Photo Please?] and The Little Dum Dum Club and I love Green Guide Letters. We have some really good comedy podcasts in this town. I’m not sure if we need another one. I ran this website called The Scriveners Fancy for just over two years and that started out as a hobby while I was out of work. It was only one day a week but by the end of it, it was three days, sometimes four days a week work because I was having to be like an editor of a newspaper and try and call up people and beg them to write me something for free. That was great when I had time to do it, but eventually I just couldn’t keep going because I had to go and do some actual work. I do quite like the idea of doing a podcast at some point but trying not to just do… It’s like every single comedian in the world has a podcast where they interview every single other comedian in the world. It’s what I feel like the world’s podcasting is and I think, do I really need to add to that? I don’t know, if I think I can think of a slightly different way of doing it, may be.


Lisa: So what about this show you are doing with Ross Noble in the UK Called Freewheeling? (starting on Oct 29th on Dave). How did it come about?

Tony: I just got an email from him. I’ve known Ross for quite a while, well, I’ve been a fan of his since 1999 when I saw him in Edinburgh and he was the talk of Edinburgh in that year. I don’t think he was even nominated for the Perrier, but he was all everyone was talking about everywhere you went ‘Have you seen this amazing guy’. Then he started coming on Get This and he was a huge fan of Get This

Lisa: He was brilliant on it.

Tony: When you watch that show he made in Australia in 2007, though it didn’t get shown ‘til a few years later, Ross Noble’s Australian Trip. He said whenever you see him riding his motorbike through the outback, he’s listening to Get This on his headphones. So he was quite the fan. He was almost like a fourth cast member, in a way, sometimes. Then he did A Quiet Word with me, then I had a really good reaction from a podcast I did with him on the ABC’s website. Then earlier this year I got an email from him out of nowhere (in Ross’s voice) ‘Do you want to come and spend Summer chasing me ‘round England?’ It sounded great. I was picturing Brideshead Revisited. Then a week before I went over I’m calling up the production office and they’re telling me that it’s the coldest recorded Summer since records began in 1813. It was pretty full on, it was a great thing to do but it was really strange because there were no other Australians there. It was just me and all these English crew members chasing Ross around the country for a few months in a van. In three vans in fact. He was on a motorbike and there were fourteen of us in three vans. My official role was called Creative Producer and I had to think up… well it was whittling down the tweets more than anything. Ross would tweet ‘What should I do here?’ and there would literally be about 200 tweets in thirty seconds. So I would go through them and say ‘What if we did this?’ and ‘You could go there’ and ‘We could do something like that.’

Ross and I wrote a huge amount of material, because one of the original ideas for the show was that in addition to us following him around England, the format of the show would be like a send up of travel shows, because there are so many of them. So we wrote all these sketches and phony history reports and these scenes where the narrator version of Ross was arguing with the real Ross. So we wrote a huge amount of material but in the end we didn’t use any of it because the stuff with him just following the tweets was so great and there was so much of it. It’s only a six hour series and we probably shot enough material for three times that. So in the end all the written stuff has been stockpiled and Ross is talking about doing another series, where we just use the written stuff. So I’m possibly going back to do another show which will be quite different.

Lisa: That’s cool.

Tony: He’s brilliant to work with. I spent all day and night with him, ‘cause he doesn’t sleep, there’s no off switch. I would see him every day and you get to see how he operates up close. He’s not cheating, he is literally making it up as he goes along!

Lisa: Wow, so after all that time together you kept enjoying working with him and want to work with him again?

Tony: Oh yeah, he’s like a kind of a superhero really, what he can actually do. We would have had two hours sleep and we’d be in some dreary, depressing carpark in Manchester. It’s pissing with rain and no-one’s turned up and there’s just a sign in the corner and Noble would go over and somehow turn that sign into five minutes of comedy gold. Every time I thought ‘we are just going to get nothing out of this’, he would just pull it out of his mind. We were in a Services, they call it a Services, it was like a 7/11 / service station and it’s freezing cold and we didn’t have anything to do and there was a sign up for some charity that Terry Wogan does to help children in need and the logo is a teddy bear with an eye missing and he’s got a bandage over one eye and I remember Ross doing a three minute monologue about that picture. He was saying (does Ross’s voice) “You’d think after twenty years Terry Wogan would’ve done something about that poor little bear’s eye”. The crew was just crying with laughter. So that was just potentially three minutes of a forty-five minute episode, just belted off there.

We used to call it ‘Golden Minutes’. When we started, the production company was quite nervous wondering ‘What if you don’t get any Tweets? Or what if you get there and we can’t think of anything funny? We’ve got to do an episode a week and how are you going to fill the time?’ And of course Noble would just go up to a sign and rant on and we’d all look at each other and someone would say ‘Golden Minutes!’ The aim was we had to get something like nine minutes of finished show a day. On the first day we were worried about how much usable footage we had, because there was a lot of driving, we’d be driving to Cardiff for four hours and so there’s four hours we’re not filming. Then on the second day we got something like fifty-eight minutes of usable footage in one day. So yeah, his golden minutes.

I don’t know what the end result will be, I haven’t seen the final shows and I don’t know… I assume there’ll be a DVD and I assume they’ll have time to edit some of that extra stuff for the DVD, ‘cause Ross always does really chockers DVDs.

Lisa: Like yourself

Tony: Yeah, but he’s got one out called Headspace Cowboy, it’s got six separate shows on it! Some people haven’t done six DVDs ever! He’s done six shows on one DVD, so I’m hoping there will be a good DVD of this series.


Lisa: Do you think it’ll come to Australia at all?

Tony: You’d think so, he’s really popular here, people almost think of him as Australian.

Lisa: He lived here

Tony: Yeah, he lived here until the bushfires.

Lisa: Yeah that was awful

Tony: I know. Ross Noble’s Australian Trip was on TEN, although that’s got nothing to do with this, I don’t know if that means they’ll show it. It was shown kind of rather late at night if I remember. The thing about that show, by the way, is that it was never going to be a TV show.

Lisa: Oh

Tony: It wasn’t actually a series when they were making it. Ross was just on a Tour and Pete Callow, his brilliant director who goes everywhere with Ross, said ‘Why don’t we just film some stuff to put on the DVD?’ They were only filming for about twenty minutes a day, Ross told me, on that Australian trip, because he had shows to do and to get to. Then they got to the end and said, maybe we’ve got enough here for a TV series. I love that show, but it was not intended to be a show when they made it. The main difference between that one and Freewheeling is that about a quarter of Ross Noble’s Australian Trip was footage from his live shows, whereas there’s none of that in Freewheeling, because we weren’t on a tour. That was probably the main reason I was brought over, because I think Ross thought well hang on, I’ve got to do this and I’m not going to be able to cut to me doing jokes on stage, so what are we going to have instead? So we were going to write all these sketches which we did but in the end there wasn’t a great deal of need for them.


Lisa: About The Yeti, do you think you’ll tour it?

Tony: Well you can do a fifty minute show during a Festival but outside of a Festival it’s a bit of a rip-off. Do know what I mean? If you are on tour you really should do ninety minutes.

Lisa: Yeah I interviewed Alan Davies recently and he said you need a good ninety minutes

Tony: Yeah well, if you’re playing big theatres like he does, well, maybe two hours or something. But I wouldn’t do this in big theatres, I couldn’t fill big theatres but also it’s not really a show that…

Lisa: It’s an intimate show

Tony: Yeah, it’s a small show, and up until opening night I had no idea if this would even work at all, so I’m doing extra shows at the Lithuanian club which holds 220 people and I’m actually a bit skeptical as to whether it will work in a room that size but it’ll be a good experiment and if it works [according to those who were there it did work]  maybe I’ll do the same thing with a second story and maybe I’ll tour that. That’s one idea. I also want to get back to just doing standup, and get back on the road doing that.

But because I’ve been working on Upper Middle Bogan…

Lisa: Which is great!

Tony: We’re waiting to see if we’ll get a second series of that, so I’m in this weird limbo where I’m waiting to hear if I’m doing another show with Ross and I’m waiting to hear whether there’s going to be any more Bogan so I can’t really make any plans at this point.

It’s good to be working, that’s what I say.

Lisa: That’s what Squirrel Comedy is all about, we love to see comedians in work, it’s good.

Tony: Well the secret is…I turn fifty next year and to keep working at this age, the key is… the only bit of advice I ever give young comedians is…. just learn to do as many different things as you can, because when one thing ends I’ve always got another different thing I can do.

 You can buy Tony Martin’s books at his minimalist website

Here’s the Freewheeling trailer from the comedy channel called ‘Dave’ in the UK. Freewheeling premiers in the UK on Tuesday 29th October  at 10pm

Pic thanks to

Tony Martin – The Yeti

By Lisa Clark 

It’s a simple concept, a comedic author performs a chapter of his first autobiographical book on stage in a small room. Except this is Comedy legend Tony Martin of The Late Show and Get This. Shows worshiped by their cult fans who still maintain tribute websites such as, a Get This Tumbr and Capril. He’s also the author of some beautifully written, evocative and laugh out loud funny books of autobiographical stories. Tony doesn’t perform often and when he does his fans, including many in the comedy industry, flock because they know he’s going to serve up a diligently crafted, solid show chockers full of laughs, and he did.

The last time Tony Martin performed in Melbourne was only a month ago at the pop-up boutique of comedy nights in Melbourne called The Shelf. He treated us to a hilarious slide night, making funny commentary about photos he took while following Ross Noble around the UK filming his new, upcoming TV show Freewheeling. Tony worked as a writer for the show and it’s a testament to his talent that Ross flew him over. The Yeti was quite a different performance. While his night at The Shelf was fairly relaxed and slightly improvised, allowing for silly comments by The Shelf team, who were also on stage, this was very formal with no banter, no explanation and no introduction.

The cold opening is very dramatic and works beautifully for this monologue, which not unlike Tony himself is trim, sleek and well groomed. It forces the audience to focus from the start and the laughs are quick and constant. He has memorised the entire chapter word for word and gives us the text from the book and nothing more. Apart from something special at the end, the big bonus for a live audience is Tony bringing all the characters to life on stage and of course his rendition of the ridiculous silly voice of his eccentric Swiss/German/New Zealand landlord Gunter. A character that made the chapter so memorable in Lollyscramble because you have to read large chunks of it out loud to work out what the hell he is saying. He’s written Gunter’s speech out phonetically on the page and this show is worth coming to just to hear Tony doing Gunter’s mindboggling thick accented outbursts.

It is the 50th anniversary of Dr Who in 2013 and this would have to be one of the subtlest tributes. The title of Tony’s show is referring to a very obscure Dr. Who monster from the black & white Patrick Troughton era in the 1960s where most episodes have been destroyed. I’ve only recently seen a friend’s recorded copy of ‘Web of Fear’ with Yeti’s for the first time and they are big, lumbering fluffy and cute looking robots, but I’m sure terrifying to a young child. Tony reveals their significance during his show which is actually made up of an accumulation of smaller tales about a shared house he lived in, in Auckland and the fascinating people who lived there.

It’s a joy to watch a performer who has complete confidence in his meticulously constructed prose. He’s also an excellent comedic character actor with years of experience in sketch comedy on TV and on radio. I was in tears of laughter throughout the show and could not recommend it more highly. This is one of those ‘Not to be Missed’ comedy events in Melbourne. Shows have sold fast and extra performances have been added. See it if you can.

Tony Martin is performing at The Butterfly Club. The season is sold out but extra performances have been added.

Interview with Tegan Higginbotham about being Touched By Fev, and other things…

By Lisa Clark

Tegan Higginbotham has been around the Melbourne comedy scene a long time, yet still seems like a fresh faced kid. Last year she told us about her new hobby – professional boxing in her debut solo standup show Million Dollar Tegan which gained a lot of praise and thankfully didn’t end with her coach euthenising her. This year she is talking about her childhood obsessions in Touched by Fev. She began her comedy career performing wild fast-paced sketch shows with Rob Lloyd and Adam Mckenzie as the Hounds. This has morphed into Watson without Rob and they will be performing Once Were Planets this year. Apart from her work with Watson and her own stand up solo show, she will be doing her regular Monday night spot at The Shelf at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival this year. Tegan is clearly very busy at the moment, but she kindly found some time to answer my questions.

How Long have you been doing comedy and how old were you when you did your first comedy gig?

I was 17 when I did my first gig. So I’ve performing for 2ish years. (ish).

Did you always want to perform on stage?
Unfortunately, yes. I was that annoying kid who made my parents sit down every night to watch my latest piece of theatre. I just never would have thought that one day I’d actually be enjoying them laughing at me.

Who in comedy has inspired you?
Celia Pacquola, Judith Lucy, Nick Cody, Justin Hamilton and my good friend Adam McKenzie.

Does your work with Watson inform your stand up and visa versa?
I think that the joke writing skills I’m learning from stand-up have most definitely helped with my writing for Watson. But I was actually surprised how little all the years of performing sketch helped when I finally got the balls to get up on stage by myself. It was a whole new game. I kept running out of breath because I was waiting for someone else to start delivering lines but it NEVER HAPPENED

Do you think the timing and running around with Watson helped you be a better boxer?
Better” would imply that I’m any good. I’m terrible at boxing. Just ask the trainers.

When did you decide it was time to do solo standup?

I felt like it was a natural progression. And I’d been hanging around with stand-up’s for so many years I felt it would have been wrong not to give it a go. But specifically, I was 21 when I bit the bullet.

Was it hard to step out on your own away from the support of Adam McKenzie & Rob Lloyd?

Absolutely. Not only in the sense that performing solo was difficult, but the support they offer after a show is invaluable. When you’re part of a group, you all ride the hard shows together and share the blame, so to speak. Whereas having to pick yourself up after a bad stand-up set can be a very tricky task indeed.

Did they prepare you for life as a comedian?
Adam and Robby taught me right from the get-go that to be a successful comedian you have to work incredibly hard. During our very first comedy festival we would often be performing three times a night, so doing that now seems quite natural. In this way, they did help. Robby and Adam also exposed me to a very unique style of comedy that I would have missed completely had I just gone straight into stand-up and I’m very lucky that I got a fabulous opportunity to experience that and experiment with them on stage.

When you were growing up did you ever see yourself as a comedian, who punches people as a side hobby?
I saw myself as Ripley from Aliens. So the punching thing was certainly there. It’s the comedy I’m surprised by.

Have you enjoyed working on The Shelf?
Defintely! But it still scares me. Sometimes I find myself standing on stage with people who are SO much better than me and I have to stop myself from freaking out or yelling “You’re from the TV! Say hi to my Mum!”

How do you plan to juggle 3 shows at this years MICF?
With a mixture of coffee, Lindt and pure adrenaline. Wish me luck.

Have you done much hosting at comedy gigs?
A little bit. I’m hoping to do more and more over time. It requires a really fabulous set of skills that I haven’t quite mastered yet. Harley Breen, who is another comic I look up to, once pointed out to me that when you’re performing a solo-show, you ostensibly have to be your own MC. So it helps to be good at it.

When did you start thinking about this as a topic for a festival show.
A long time ago, actually. I usually think of my shows long before I attempt to write them. In fact, I already know what my very last show will be.
I second guessed “Touched By Fev” a bit and considered doing something else for a while. But for me, there was too much to talk about and I’m genuinely interested in the subject matter. It felt right.

How do you write a show, in bits and pieces, in big chunks?
I actually don’t have a set style of writing just yet. Last year it was matter of experiencing boxing, then simply taking note of what happened. This show has involved more research and delves a little further in to personal stories.

Are you disciplined, do you have a routine or is it more organic?

Do you think you can make this festival show appeal to people who know nothing of Aussie Rules or Brendan Fevola?
The show is also about Harry Potter, so I’m hoping that if people aren’t massive AFL fans, they’ll come for the Potter instead. That being said, I have written this show with a non-sporty audience in mind as well, and I’m pretty sure that they’ll still understand everything hat’s going on.

What’s your favourite thing about taking part in the Melbourne International Comedy Festival?

I have been thinking about this answer for 20 minutes now. I just have to pick something, don’t I?
Um…oh god! It’s so many things! It’s the laughter; both from an audience and from myself as I watch Adam try to keep a straight face each night. It’s the incredibly warm feeling you get when someone enjoys something that you’ve written. It’s huddling with other comics on the steps of The Melbourne Town hall and sharing battle tales. It’s feeling a little bit spesh for a whole month. It’s meeting new people and eating pizza at 1am on Swanston Street and so many things. I honestly can’t choose.

Tegan Higginbotham’s Touched by Fev is on upstairs in The Spleen Bar throughout the Festival – There are NO performances Mondays, Fridays & Sundays

Watson – Once Were Planets is on at Trades Hall

The Shelf – is on for three nights at Toff of Town


Interview with Adam Rozenbachs about ‘Eurodad’

By Lisa Clark

Last year Adam Rozenbachs travelled through Europe with his dad and tweeted his experiences along the way. If the tweets were any indication, Eurodad should be hilarious. Adam took time out of his pre-festival pressures to answer a few questions about himself and his new show.

When why did you start doing Standup?
I started in 1999, at The Espy, a comedy institution at the time. Why? Stupidity mainly, now that I look back on it. But I had a love of stand-up, and used to go and watch whenever I could, so I thought I’d like to give it a crack. And I’d been doing Triple R for about two years [Crud Boys 1997-99], so had been writing for that time. It was time to take away the safety net performance wise. Plus, I thought I wasn’t having enough feelings of insecurity, so wanted to bump that up a bit.

Who inspired you in Comedy?
I idolised the D Generation/Late Show/Martin-Molloy era of Australian comedy. Having met them I can see why they were/are so good [they steal a lot].
We also used to listen to Bill Cosby on family trips in the car, so I remember how much I enjoyed that. Although it was a bit muffled hearing it from the boot. And dad took me to see Billy Connolly when I was about 16, so that had a huge impact on me, watching people, including dad, lose their shit for about three hours.
I also heard my first Rodney Rude tape when I was about ten. I probably understood most of the jokes in it when I turned sixteen.

How do you write your festival show? Are you very disciplined?

I’ll start off with chunks, bits, words, occasional letters, and then slowly try and piece them together. Then I’ll print that out, go to a cafe or a pub or crack den and try and joke it up – adding bits and pieces here and there to try and add strength to the strong bits.
I go through patches of discipline. I’ll write and be productive, and then I’ll leave it for a bit or procrastinate, and then I’ll get mad at myself and force myself to sit down and write. It’s all part of the process. I’d like to see how many of the classics would be around today with the nuisance of the internet at hand. I bet Tolstoy’s book would have been War and I Can Haz Cheeseburger.

Are you still writing at the last minute or do you like to have it ready to go for the previews?
Probably about four of five days prior I’ll stop writing so I can start to learn it. Mostly the order, as by that stage I will have only done it from start to finish maybe twice.

Then, the day after my opening show, I’ll furiously re-write, regretting all those times I kicked back looking at cats on the internet, thinking it was a good show.

Do you usually practice bits of it in comedy clubs?
Yep. It’s nice to have a few bits ready to roll for the festival, so you know they’re solid and reliable.

This show has been a bit different to previous years, as it’s my first real narrative, so it’s a bit harder to do ‘bits’ in the clubs/rooms, as it will seem a little disjointed without all the other information surrounding it. Well, that’s what i tell myself when it doesn’t work. But I have been able to work up bits by changing them slightly so they can stand alone.

Is your dad OK about you writing a show involving him?
Probably not, but unless he wants me to move back in because I have no cash, he’ll have to be.

He didn’t want to be on the poster, but I said he’d be in the background, blurry and unrecognisable. He’s not.

I think he’ll quickly work out I lie to him a lot.

Are there stories that you can’t put into your show?
Mostly the thoughts that ran through my head about how I could bump my dad off and make it look like an accident.

Have you travelled with your father as an adult before?
No. And if you ask me that question again in twenty years, the answer will be “ONCE!”

Did you have to change the way you travelled i.e. nicer hotels etc?
Absolutely. I can be a bit of a loose traveller i.e. decide what to do when I arrive in a city, but I had to be more rigid with planning, as I didn’t want dad wandering around with his luggage looking for accommodation. I also cut back on a few things I would want to do, as dad wasn’t interested. Like, for example, fun.
Dad didn’t really like to talking to strangers either, which really cuts back your drug purchasing options.

Be honest did you put yourself through this hell hoping to get a festival show out of it?
How dare you be so cynical about a comedian. But yes. 100%. I hope people appreciate what comedians go through for a show… Twenty one days for an hour’s worth of material is not the greatest ratio.

How has been the experience of working on The Shelf?
The Shelf is fantastic. And working with Tegan Higginbotham has been great. We do a weekly news segment, and i always enjoy reading her stuff when she sends it through to be printed out [I’m the printer owner of the duo]. I love the process of writing news jokes too… getting the story, and then trying to think of a take to have on it. Plus, we can be particularly dark and get away with it as we’re just newsreaders telling it like it is, right?

Justin Hamilton brings together some of the best comics in Australia, so it’s great to grace the stage with them. And nice to try and include them in the gags sometimes.

And The Toff is a brilliant venue.
How will you cope working on two shows during MICF – The Shelf and your solo show?
Once it’s all bedded in, things should run smoothly. That’s what I tell myself. In reality, i will be a burnt out wreck on day two who somehow stumbles to the finishing line, crying and wailing. But, you know, in a funny way.

Luckily The Shelf is on a Monday, which is my day off Eurodad – so at least i can take a break from that and write some news gags.

Are you hoping/planning to guest on other shows during the festival? [i.e. Setlist, Festival Club, various podcasts, etc]?
I’d love to do Setlist. Thinking about it now scares the shit out of me, but I’d love to know how I’d react at the time. Probably with a lot of swearing and regret to be honest.
And once you’re in the Comedy Festival, you try and do as much as you can – Festival Club, podcasts, spots, alcohol… whatever is around, I tend to jump at as it’s nice to be a part of it all.

You do a lot of writing behind the scenes, do you think of yourself as primarily a comedy writer or performer or both?
Initially I though of myself as a comedy writer, but I think in the last few years the balance has tipped over to performer. But I enjoy all facets of comedy – it’s just so much fun to try and find the funny, no matter what the medium. Unless the medium is mime – then you can just fuck off.

Tim Minchin told anyone who’d listen (inc. Andrew Lloyd Webber) that his dream was to play Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar and it worked, as Andrew kept him in mind when he needed to cast it in a hurry. Do you have an ambition you’d like to share with us?

To play in a Carlton premiership. And trust me, I’ve been pestering Mick Malthouse about it. But I’ve since given up on that, mainly because I’m not allowed within 500 metres of him.

Did Becoming one of Cleo’s 50 Most Eligible Bachelors get you laid help get you a girlfriend?

It actually didn’t. The only thing that increased was mocking [up 400%] and disbelief ‘How did you get in there?”. Unfortunately not that many people in the circles I move in read it, no matter how many copies I left lying around.

Eurodad is on throughout the Melbourne International Comedy Festival

Adam will also be appearing at The Shelf on Mondays during the Festival

as well as somehow squeezing in hosting duties at The Comics Lounge

Justin Hamilton somehow finds time to explain The Shelf Podcast

By Lisa Clark

The Shelf Podcast accompanies a comedy room curated by yourself and Adam Richard, was there always going to be a companion podcast?

That was always the plan.  We originally wanted to record the game show and put that up as a podcast but it would have cost way too much to put together.   We may do something like that in the future but for now it will be Adam and I with the occasional guest.

Was the podcast always planned to keep going at times when the show itself was not on?

Definitely.  Since we decided that The Shelf would be produced season to season the idea of a podcast that bridged the gap was always the plan.

You are both workaholics from what I can gather and have discussed on The Shelf the stress this can create.

Apart from preparing for upcoming festival shows Adam Richard has recently hosted the Showdown on Sunday afternoons and Justin Hamilton has been in Adelaide for The Fringe Festival.

Justin Hamilton – The blog and Podcasts Can You Take this Photo Please? And Dig Flicks

Adam Richard, – The radio gig/s, online blogs, promoting Outland and looking after Fab’s online presence as well as podcast The Poofcast.

Have I missed anything?

The work Adam does every day for radio is out of control.  I think he works three different markets every morning all over Australia so it isn’t just Fox FM in Melbourne.  I am staggered at the amount of work that goes into what appears to be a breezy grab each day.

I have also been producing a late night show in Adelaide for the Fringe Festival while working for the Talk Fringe website interviewing performers and audience.   While in Adelaide I also hosted the Adelaide Comedy Gala, performed in the Adelaide Debate and hosted the South Australian final of Raw Comedy. I produce and host a show out in Berwick that happens once a month.  I also have a weekly movie and TV review spot for Botica’s Bunch in Perth, their number one breakfast radio show that I’ve been lucky to be a part of for the last five years.  In my spare time I am finishing up the latest draft of my first manuscript that will hopefully see the light of the day at the end of the year. 

Oh…and I’m directing Tegan Higginbotham’s first solo MICF show. 

You’re only here for a short time, no point in lounging around.  People are quite surprised to know I’m usually working anywhere between 9am to midnight most days.  I know people don’t believe me when I tell them that I’m busy but this is what my life has been like for at least the last five years.

How does the Shelf podcast fit in with the other podcasts you both do?

This is 100% what Adam and I sound like when the mics aren’t on.  That is one of the things we love about the podcast and I think it has worked even better while I’m in Adelaide.  We really are just catching up.  If you listen to our latest podcast you will hear us talk about everything from Yumi Stynes to The Dark Knight Rises to my disdain for bread that won’t toast properly.  “Can You Take This Photo Please?” is more about interviewing comedians and the like about their process and history in regards to their craft with anecdotes to pepper the tales while “Helliar and Hammo Dig Flicks!” is really just two movie buffs getting extremely nerdy with each other and our guests.

Do you see this as an avenue to explore different topics to your other podcasts?

We literally do no preparation for the Shelfcast.  Invariably when the show starts is exactly when we’ve begun talking to each other.  I love the spontaneity of it.  I’m as surprised as anyone to hear what we’ve talked about when I listen back to the show.

Has the podcast has morphed into something beyond its original scope?

The great thing about podcasts is that is there is no governing regulation stating what makes a good show and what makes a bad show.  Therefore it is completely creative and isn’t trapped by a set of didactic guidelines that try to dictate how a podcast should work.  I would hope that all the podcasts I’m involved with are slowly morphing over time.  My prediction is once they introduce podcasts awards; if they haven’t already; we’ll see a conservatism begin to sneak in as people chase the “prize”.

You often talk about how you love to get together and chat at your favourite café. I think you’ve captured that well on the podcast. Listening in to your conversations is like sitting at a nearby table and listening in to your private conversations. Do you sometimes forget that there is an Audience listening?

Without a doubt.

Have you thought about the difference between performing this sort of chat live & it being recorded for posterity?

When you’re performing live there is a sense of responsibility to go for the laughs more but since people are listening to podcasts driving or going for a jog etc I think there is an easy going nature to just recording your conversations and letting the jokes flow a bit more naturally.  It is good to think about what you’re saying though.  I was quoted from one podcast recently in regards to the Jim Schembri scandal.  You never know who is listening out there.

Are the recordings edited afterwards?

Adam and I don’t but we’ve had guests on who like to change something a little bit later.

In the first series, last year I noticed that you had some Shelf regulars as guests, such as Tegan Higginbotham and Gatesy and Not as many guests in 2nd series of podcasts.

That is purely down to time and distance.  I’m still in Adelaide and Adam can call me first thing in the morning to record.  Have you ever attempted to organise a gaggle of comics?  It can be a nightmare!

Can we expect that the live Shelf shows during Melbourne International Comedy Festival will be like the previous versions of the show?

I think there will be elements that will be similar, there will be the chat with Adam and I, possibly even some guests for that part.  I remember the night we flew Wil Anderson down just for the chat was a highlight.  I also enjoyed performing an old Bunta Boys song with Gatesy a lot.  I hadn’t warbled in public in over 12 years!  The singing might have needed some work but it was gratifying to see a 15-year-old comedy song still get big laughs.  We’re re-introducing the game show for the MICF.  We will also have a few new regulars and special guests.  We’ll always keep you guessing.  The idea behind the show was never to reinvent comedy.  The idea was to provide a show that was exactly that:  a show.  That way we could intertwine skits, character comedy, stand up, musical comedy and games.  I’m very proud of everyone who was involved in the first two seasons, I think it inspired them to some of their best work yet.  This was the kind of room I would have loved to have seen when I was a young man.

Monday nights are becoming increasingly popular for performers. Please give our readers 5 reasons to choose to come and see The Shelf during The Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

  1. 1.     We have some very special guests who are going to make cameos every night alongside our regular crew.
  2. 2.     For a measly $25 you will be treated to a two-hour show that is unlike any comedy show in Australia. 
  3. 3.     You will see some of your favourite acts in a way that you’re not used to seeing them eg Gatesy performing stand up, Wil not performing stand up, Tegan Higginbotham and Adam Rozenbachs nailing the news etc
  4. 4.     You won’t see this show on TV because we want this show to be naughty, dangerous and exciting…something that TV executives just don’t understand.  This is what a comedy night should be.
  5. 5.     European Man.
You can listen to the podcast from The Shelf website

You can get tickets or a season pass to see the naughty, dangerous and exciting The Shelf live during the Melbourne International Comedy Festival here