Many Happy Returns


“It’s somehow beyond me. I don’t get how people don’t watch more of this,” insists Mark David.

 Mark is in business with comedian Haskel Daniel as Left of Centertainment and they have just opened their latest comedy room, Happy Endings Comedy Club, at El Rocco in Kings Cross (154 Brougham Street).

It’s a great name for a great venue in a great location. You’re never gonna forget it. Particularly if you stumble onto it by accident expecting some other kind of business operating under that name… Rest assured, it’ll live up to its title and its intent: you will laugh.

But, playing devil’s advocate, there are some important questions. Like, ‘Does Sydney need another comedy venue?’ and ‘Can Sydney support it?’ Mark answers in the affirmative for both, and I know it’s true. But I know it as a comedy nerd and a newbie comic. Mark knows it not just from the business side but also, in a manner with which I very much identify, as someone forever initiating friends to the world of live comedy.

“Everybody who I’ve ever brought to see live comedy in my life has said the same thing: ‘Geez, I can’t believe we don’t do this all the time’,” Marks says. “It’s the same response every time: ‘That was amazing; that was so much fun; that’s really good for me…’”

The project, according to Mark, is to enable people to make that discovery for themselves, to realise they actually do love live comedy – bringing the audience to the funny as he brings the funny to the audience. “These people are writing our TV shows. If they’re not performing on them, they’re writing content for them. They’re the ‘think tank’ of our live entertainment. And this is its genesis: them on stage with a microphone. How more people don’t watch this is beyond me.”

So yes, Mark insists, Sydney can definitely use, and support, another comedy room, “Especially in this style, and in this location,” he says.

Okay, let’s chase those qualifiers down. ‘In this style’?

For starters, the performance room at El Rocco (the former Bar Me) is relatively small and therefore ‘intimate’. Which means even if you’re up the back, you’re watching the show, not watching other people watch the show the way you might if you’re up the back of a very big theatre. (If you don’t know the difference, you don’t go out enough). From the performer’s point of view, the comic isn’t always projecting as if to cameras. “It’s very supportive, it’s a very communicable room so the comic can easily chat to people in the audience,” David says.  It means the comedy is more immediate, personal and meaningful, and less “cinema-like”.

This being the case, it also means more different types of comedy should be able to work there – since it’s more about the comic communicating to the audience than an audience merely watching. Which is as it should be in comedy: the laughter is an interactive response that’s easier to create, the closer the audience and the performers are to each other. It also means that a smaller audience won’t automatically result in a dud night: “ten people” mark suggests, would be enough to make the room feel full, such is its lay-out and feel. “We’ll have a great deal more than that, but it’s teeming with atmosphere, that room. It really speaks to you. As soon as I walked in there, I knew absolutely: ‘We’re doing this. This is wonderful.”

Given that comedy can’t help but storm it in such a room, Mark hopes to have “all types of comedians and styles” performing, adding that he’d “also like a level of audience that’s ready for it and up to it.”

This would be ensured by that other qualifier, the location – on the edge of Kings Cross, a ‘going for a night out’ part of town.

“There is a wide range of comedy rooms in Sydney,” Mark says, “but I don’t think anything necessarily appeals to the younger market, 18-plus.” Most rooms, he argues, are aimed at a slightly older demographic, the 25-plus audience. Mark’s confident Happy Endings will attract a younger audience, and instill within that audience the understanding that comedy is “an art form worth having on your entertainment agenda” in the same way that “movies, live bands, beers with mates, even playing lawn bowls” is, because of the accessibility of this new room.

If the show is affordable – which it is – and easy to get to – one of multiple destinations on a night out if, by the end of the night, you intend to also take in some dancing and Dancers, say – then, Mark reckons people are pretty much there anyway, all he needs to do is “pick them off before they go somewhere else”. Which, he points out, brings comedy in Sydney in line with the other comedy capitals of the world “from New York to London to Melbourne: comedy is one feature, one thing people will do on a night out”.

So what’s missing? Not food. Along with your drinks before and during (oh, go on, and after) there’ll be pizza. “That’s it,” says Mark. “Fifteen-dollar pizzas. They’re great. The price of the tickets is 15 bucks. Three feature acts, generally, per show. It’s stupendous value.”

One other thing is missing, though. It’s a great room to see the cream of the stand-up crop. What about the newbies coming through? Where do they practice their art? You don’t want to charge people to watch new comics fumbling, but new comics have to fumble before they can dependably deliver hilarious comedy every time. There are fewer and fewer open mic rooms in Sydney nowadays – this would be an awesome room for open mic. And Mark’s onto that. Right now, Happy Endings operates on Saturday only, offering two shows. If Saturdays work, it’ll run on Fridays as well. If they work, it’ll be Thursdays as well… eventually one of those nights will feature open mic. In the short term, Mark is considering introducing four open mic comics to the late show on Saturdays. “It’s certainly on the agenda of things to do,” he says. But right now, the important thing is to have another great venue to see comedy in, in Sydney.


What else do you need to know?

Well, this, for starters: there was a media launch featuring (in order of appearance) Steve Philp, Clint Paddison, Brett Nichols, Tom Oakley, Chris Wainhouse, Jacques Barrett, Dave Jory and Tommy Dean.

Yes, I know, there were no women comics on the bill. The ones Mark wanted to showcase on the night weren’t available, so instead, he chose to showcase the comics booked for the first six weeks of gigs. (And the women comics he wanted to book for those first six weeks were touring or busy.) Let me reassure you, everyone was delivering gold on the night: comics I’d seen heaps of times, offering new material or mixing it up in a way that complemented the other acts on the night. But don’t take my word for it – here’s Viv Smythe’s review from Gagging For It.

You need to know who’s on, and, given that it’s a smaller room, where to buy tickets ahead of the show. But then again, it’s so conveniently placed, take a gamble on your way to somewhere else. Miss the support band; shake your booty a little later. Or, if you particularly like the support band but not the headliners, or if your favourite stripper or DJ is on early, check the late show out on your way back. Here’s the website:

Oh, but also - how about a line-up of who's on in the first six weeks? Here you go:

  • Sat 19th Feb 8pm & 10pm shows – Tahir, Steve Philp and Daniel Townes
  • Sat 26th 8pm and 10pm shows – Mick Meredith, Steve Philp and Daniel Townes
  • Sat 5th March 8pm and 10pm shows – Dave Eastgate, Tom Oakley and Clint Paddison
  • Sat 12th Mar 8pm and 10pm shows – Tommy Dean, Chris Radburn and Bruce Griffiths
  • Sat 19th March 8pm and 10pm shows – Dave Jory, Dave Smiedt and Sam McCool

There are plenty more comedy rooms in Sydney and the world. Go out and support live comedy. I promise you, it’ll lead to many, many happy returns.


Steve Hughes, the Bard of Paradox

Steve Hughes came back to Australia for what, initially, was a three week residency at the Comedy Store. Thankfully, he has stuck around, playing more gigs. See him whenever you can. He's clever and funny. If you don't believe me, look at this YouTube clip. Then read the interview. Be warned. It contains cuss words. But make sure you see him!

Dom Romeo: What’s brought you back to Australia?

Aah… living in England for ten years. That’ll bring anyone back! It will.

I just realised that I’ve got to sit down for a minute in the bush. Go out to the woods, stare at the sky, look at thunderstorms. Honestly. This is the deal. I wasn’t thinking, ‘great, I’ll go back and play the Fairfield RSL’, which some comic on stage mentioned the other night is one of the worst gigs in his entire history, because no-one showed up and the woman made him do the gig anyway. Which I guess is the decent part of the Australian spirit: ‘yeah, go on get on with it anyway, mate!’

You just have to have a break and sit down. I just happened to run into getting three weeks at the Comedy Store out of nowhere – they had someone cancel or something – ‘oh no, who are we gonna get?’ Then I went, ‘aw, I’m here…’. I wasn’t gonna work at all. Well, not for a while, anyway. But three weeks – you can’t turn down that.

Dom Romeo: Now I know that the story about the gig that nobody turned up to happens to be Dave Jory’s story.

Dave Jory’s good. I like Dave Jory. He’s a good act. I worked with him on Saturday – him and Daniel Townes, which was good, because I’d only seen Dave MC before. You don’t get to do much as an MC. Although, it’s a harder job than people think, MCing, which is funny. They just think, ‘oh, we’ll get anyone to MC’ and I’m thinking, ‘No… you’ve got to get the room ready, you mental case!’ I remember hearing this MC one night come offstage, he went, ‘yeah, they were a little cold when I went on…’. I thought, ‘well, of course they were; you’re the MC. That’s your job, you idiot!’

Dom Romeo: Do you ever MC?

No. About three times, in England, but only because someone pulled out and I thought, ‘all right, I’ll do it for you’. But no, not really.

Dom Romeo: When you left, you were clearly a good comic of the ones coming through. You clearly had something. You’ve gone away and you’ve come back brilliant. You must have known you could do this. But was there a point when you were overseas where you went, ‘I’ve gone from being okay to being quite good, actually…’

STEVE HUGHES: Yeah, yeah, of course there is. When you gig that much in England… I mean proper gigs… There’s heaps of gigs. Sometimes people go, ‘You know, there’s quite a few gigs in Sydney now’, but you realise, ‘yeah, but they’re at the Fairfield RSL’; that doesn’t help you out either…’. At least in England there are gigs, heaps of gigs, and they’re good…

They have comedy gigs in villages in England, which manage to keep it going. You know what I mean? It’s just a different country for comedy, than it is here. Australia’s outdoorsy to begin with. Or, as my mother said, when she said, ‘is the English comedy scene good?’ and I went, ‘yeah, it’s great’. She said, ‘is it better than here?’ I said, ‘of course it is!’ She goes, ‘Yeah, well, we don’t do indoor sports here, do we?’

But you don’t as much, because the sun’s out… so it’s very difficult to get this good in Australia if you don’t get that kind of exposure. I remember when I saw Bill Bailey at the Harold Park Hotel, which was in about ’98 or something, which was killer! You just go, ‘you gotta get that good! You gotta get that good!’ And you wanna be around people that good, don’t you. So I said, ‘well, I have to go…’ The worst thing that could have happened was I have to come back. It was a very good idea, I think, if you’re gonna do comedy. You become masterful.

Dom Romeo: When it came to manifest itself, how was it clear to you? How did it feel, what was it like?

STEVE HUGHES: Well, just when you know you can walk into a room with 500 people on a Saturday night and you don’t care anymore and you think, ‘good!’ cos you know you can do it. Jongleurs in England, which is a more mainstreamy chain of clubs – they’re marketed more mainstream: bucks nights and hen nights and office dos, that kind of thing – and I was quite deadpan when I left. I wanted to master deadpan.

Then I started to break out of that by doing these huge shows in England and that suddenly added more strength to the repertoire of performing. I realised, ‘right, now I can finally do it the way I wanted to do it’. I’d mastered ‘deadpan’ and all this stuff. Then you start to get invited to go overseas, and then you start doing gigs in Holland, Sweden and Finland where you have to change the words and make the jokes work a little differently because they’re listening in another language and they think a little differently about comedy.

So you start to get all these things under your belt and you start to realise that if you’re getting compliments off guys who you think are brilliant then you start to go, ‘oh well, something’s working’. Also, if you’re getting work in the UK, it’s working to begin with!

Dom Romeo: You make it look effortless – that deadpan persona is you, personified… so to speak.

STEVE HUGHES: Yeah, well just, you know, learning how to… If you want a crowd to be quiet, it’s best you just stand there in silence instead of yelling at them, ‘will you please listen to me?’ because they go, ‘no!’ I learnt that years ago, gigging at the Fringe Bar years ago, where stick you on a palette in the corner in front of a bunch of talking Eastern Suburbs yuppies. It’s no good going, ‘can everybody turn around and listen to me?’ It’s better to stand there and say nothing. Then they go, ‘well this bloke must have something to say – he’s got nothing to say.’ It’s reverse psychology at the subconscious level. It helps to be intelligent if you want to be a comedian, as well.

Dom Romeo: You bring a lot of psychology into play with what you do – if not explicitly then underlying the material. Is that an accurate assessment?

STEVE HUGHES: I guess on a level, yes. Sometimes I think a lot of the psychology is simple common sense, in the sense of just breaking down what people find acceptable on certain levels of thinking in society, especially in the political correct age where they think saying anything against anyone is somehow ‘offensive’. Like ‘support the war on terror’, which is actually the murder and genocide of millions of people, yet don’t ever say the word ‘poofter’ again because that could be deemed really offensive. Support the illegal invasions of Middle Eastern countries. See, to me, that’s common sense and understanding that you’ve been duped here.

Dom Romeo: You broadly fall into a class of expat Aussie shouty, sweary comedians – not as shouty as others because you can and will be deadpan and silent – and you’re not as blatantly sweary because it always has a purpose. But do you see yourself in that subgenre of comic? Chances are, you’ll say, ‘yeah, that subgenre of good comics, and that’s the only thing we have in common’…

STEVE HUGHES: There’s only a few that really go over there a lot, like Jim Jeffries who’s always there. Jim’s big in America and tons of places. Adam Hills has always been over there – he was the original Australian that was overseas when I started. Kitty Flanagan has been overseas a lot. She’s good. She’s killer! She’s one of the best female comics in England, I reckon. Daniel Townes goes over there a bit now. There are a couple of Aussie guys who live over there who I don’t know if they ever did it here, but they do it there. Aaron Counter, who lives in Edinburgh. When I saw Dave Jory the other night, I thought, ‘you’d work!’. He could work in England. It’s good delivery, it’s good jokes.

The ‘sweary’ thing: sometimes I do swear too much sometimes. Sometimes I use it for a purpose, and other times I say it too much like being an Australian, we just do swear. F*ck! We swear, don’t we! What’s that joke that Arj Barker’s got about how Australians are the only people who swear when they give directions?

Sometimes I swear too much. You have those nights where you’re nervous and you’re not doing too well, and you slip back into this sort of ‘ah, fuck you…!’ Actually, I did a TV show for the BBC before I left, which was the first bit of mainstream TV I did in England – no swearing of course – which was good! Good practice. And actually, I re-wrote some of my jokes without the swear bits anymore, and I realised, ‘that works much better!’ If you do do it too much, you can’t use it as a strength, because sometimes you have to say ‘f*ck’ in a certain place to make the joke kill. Some people think, ‘you can just say ‘bloody’, but no, you can’t.

Dom Romeo: There may be an alternative to ‘f*ck’ but it’s not always the same one. It will be a different one each time, depending on the joke, surely.

STEVE HUGHES: And of course, there’s no alternative to ‘C*NT!’. One must use ‘c*nt’ with strength and sense of purpose.

Dom Romeo: You and Jim Jeffries shared a house for a while and you both have a story about an actual crime that happened that’s not a joke, that’s actually a crime that took place – do you want to talk about it, or have you talked about it enough?

STEVE HUGHES: It’s quite funny because people quite often go up to Jim and say, ‘that’s Steve Hughes’s material; they don’t know he’s the other guy. He’ll go, ‘no it’s not – I was there too, tied up on the ground!’

We don’t have to talk about it, I’ve got great material about it. Come and hear it. It was very funny. Only comedians would be lying on the floor in a house with towels over their heads with guys with machetes wandering around, thinking to themselves, ‘can you pass me that pen, mate? I’ve just had a killer idea…’

Dom Romeo: Do you still play music?

STEVE HUGHES: Yeah, I do. In fact, I’ve just got a new comedy CD out which is interesting in the sense of how we were just discussing that I can be quite deadpan and un-shouty… this almost ties back into the original question, why’d I come back. Listening to my new CD, I’m so angry and mental and yelling, it’s quite insane. I listen back to it and I realise, ‘god, I needed a rest!’ These English are such good audiences they even accepted me just screaming at them.

So… uh… what was the original question?

Dom Romeo: Are you still playing music?

STEVE HUGHES: I taught myself guitar so I don’t have to be in a band. But I always put a song on the end of my comedy CDs, which I record myself. And I may have something in the works, depending how long I stay here, to play with a couple of freaks in the Sydney metal scene. We may do a gig. It’s a little bit chaotic. I won’t say who it is yet, in case we don’t pull it off.

Dom Romeo: Are they signed?

STEVE HUGHES: No. They’re very well known, though. If you know underground Australian heavy metal. It’ll be good. I’d be very f*cken happy. A pure live ritual… It’ll be quite disturbing.

Dom Romeo: You were saying you’ve only just made it to ‘proper’ television in the UK.

STEVE HUGHES: Just stand-up. Not a ‘show’ or anything.

Dom Romeo: Do you want to do more of the television thing? Because you strike me as the seminal ‘live’ comedian. What you do is you thrive with an audience. I couldn’t see you fronting a game show…

STEVE HUGHES: Oh, no, no, no, no. No, I’m not doing that! Sometimes comedians are all sort of, ‘I wanna get on TV, I wanna get on TV, I wanna do this, if I get on TV everything will be all right…’. They live in some kind of fantasy. Sometimes I have to say to them, ‘what do you want to do on TV?’ They don’t know! ‘You can’t have no idea; write a show as good as Blackadder and then you’ll get on TV. Do you have a show as good as that? That’s the standard, as far as I’m concerned. Unless you want to be the host of some crap show.’ I can’t do that. What am I gonna do? I hate TV. I love it as a medium if it were used correctly. But it’s not. It’s used by the ruling elite to send propaganda messages to the new world order society that’s being congregated into an empirically based scientific dictatorship… You getting all this? You getting this down, everybody? You understand?

Dom Romeo: That’s why you need to get to television: you need to do a show that stops all of that or at least presents the alternative.

STEVE HUGHES: That’s impossible. It’s all owned by one conglomerate. TV has to offer the illusion of having separate channels, like politics offers the illusion of having different parties.

Dom Romeo: That, to me, is the philosophy underlying your comedy. Every comic who has something to say, eventually, you get to their philosophy underneath it all.

STEVE HUGHES: I don’t even think mine is ‘underneath it all’. I just say it! Simple as that! You’re often limiting yourself… If you have a contempt of the mainstream, which of course, in this country, to put it bluntly – I don’t care – I’ve always found the TV industry here to be ‘safe’; ‘gutless’; nothing of grit ever seems to make it on. Australians have been conditioned to turn off when they hear politics or anything serious or something that may offer a streak of tragedy or acceptance of something they’ve done. We’ve all just got to shut up and be happy and drink lattes in the sun and pretend nothing’s ever gone wrong, and until you accept that there’s a tragedy here that needs to be acknowledged, then you’ll never have proper soul or as good a scene or be able to make a band as good as Peter Gabriel.

Dom Romeo: See, but you just went and undercut all that!

STEVE HUGHES: Yeah. But the problem is, Australia actually has some of the best artists around. They can totally perform well on stage. Bands that keep going; longevity; hardcore; Australians know how to do it because we’re so isolated. Yet there’s never any structure for art to be turned into a side of the Australian culture. It’s still dominated by sport, which is… uh… I don’t know. Good, if you like sport. Not all of us do! So anyone who doesn’t like sport in Australia has usually been outcast. And yet, there’s no underground scene for the outcasts to create the part of society that turns into the fabric of society. You know what I mean? At least in Europe – some of the artists I know here, if they were in Europe, they’d be liked. They’d have somewhere to perform, somewhere to show their stuff. Here, it’s like, ‘what are ya doin’ that for mate? What are ya doin’ that for? That’s a bit stupid. A bit weird. A bit negative, isn’t it? Where’s the ball?’ Anyway. Stuff like that.

Dom Romeo: I guess the last question would be, ‘why don’t you come back more often?’ but you’ve kind of answered it…

STEVE HUGHES: It’s so far to come back, isn’t it? Not like my Canadian mates. They can go home from England. Seven hours!

Dom Romeo: But it’s not just the time and the distance it takes to travel – it’s also the philosophy and the mind-set. That’s far away, too.

STEVE HUGHES: Well, I don’t know. Because I’m really enjoying it, being here now. Only because I haven’t been here for so long. And the gigs are brilliant. And I conquered so much of England. A lot of guys who I met who started doing comedy in England ten years ago, as much as it’s fun to work there, you still start to go a bit mad, just on the comedy circuit for years and years and years and years, you go, ‘right, I gotta do something different now’. I did all of England. I thought, ‘what am I doing? What am I doing?’ I’ve done tons of Europe and stuff. Just kind of like, need something else to do. Because they laugh good, Australians. They laugh their guts out. They don’t fake laugh. They knee-slap laugh. They’re a little conservative – but I don’t believe they are, really. Cos they’re the one race I know that actually say ‘c*nt’ all the time. So, they have this constant paradox, Australians: they swear like f*cken dockers, and they’re next minute they’re like, ‘oooh, oooh, can you say that?’ It’s like this f*cken paradox, the Australian psyche. Which is good. Paradoxes are where secrets to the universe lie.

But I’m enjoying doing gigs here, because they do laugh from their guts, and it’s fun: you’ve just got to sneak in under their shell. The next minute, they realise they’re f*cken pissing themselves, so it’s just good fun. Plus I can do tons of old jokes I haven’t done for years!

Dom Romeo: What are you doing at the end of this residency at the Comedy Store? You’re not heading back to the UK, are you?

STEVE HUGHES: No. I’m going to Queensland to stand in the bush.

Dom Romeo: Hopefully you’ll come back and do some more gigs…

STEVE HUGHES: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’ve got the Laugh Garage – the Parramatta one – on the 13th. Which I don’t know how I’m going to get out to, because I went for my driver’s licence test the other day and they failed me. Because I didn’t stop at the stop sign for long enough. Even though the guy said, ‘I know you can drive’. Well give me the licence then! ‘No, you didn’t do it to the correct rules…’. But you know I can drive, why do you have to waste everybody’s time? Anyway. Come to a show and you can hear me rant about that, if I want.

Dom Romeo: All right. And the last thing is, we need to know when you’re playing the Fairfield RSL.

STEVE HUGHES: Oh, right. The Fairfield RSL. I’m doing a one-month run there. Five nights a week. Come on down. You get a pie and chips. Make sure you take your hat off before you go in. Show respect. That should be a great month’s run down at the Fairfield RSL. We should get anywhere up to six or seven people a night. Seats four hundred. I’m sure it’s gonna be a great gig.

Dom Romeo: Steve, it’s always a pleasure to catch up with you.

STEVE HUGHES: No Problems, brother.

Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2007


I have had the pleasure of watching Dave Jory develop as a comic, having judged his very first Raw Comedy heat in Sydney a few years back. He was a bit scary then - the bald head and the suit made him resemble one of those villains in a Guy Ritchie flick.

I was kind of eyeing the exits to make good my escape if he proved to be as dangerous as his image threatened.

Afterwards he came up and asked for advice. I told him he needed to be less scary up front, to win the audience over - one of the other judges thought he might cut them.

He learnt pretty quickly. Now Dave Jory lives up to the the title of his show - he's a polished stand-up comic.  Hence his Melbourne International Comedy Festival show, Dave Jory is Polished.

You should come and see him live.

Book now.

I should also tell you that the basic design of Dave's flyer is by Kim Longue, who does the poster artwork for Sydney's original Comedy Store.

going halves

I am also producing Going Halves, a show also featuring two comics on the rise. James Lieutenant I have been watching in Raw Comedy for several years now; it's not something that crops up in the normal corse of interacting with him as a stand-up comic, but James is a gifted visual artist on the verge of something major. The same is true of his comedy.

Tom Gibson has been doing comedy for about as long, and last year placed third in Canberra's 'Green Faces' comedy competition.

These guys are the fresh face of the next generation of Aussie stand up.

Book now.

And I want to add a note about the flyer. James organised the photo and insisted in no uncertain terms that I was to use it as is, without manipulating it in any way. I guess he wanted to ensure I didn't do to it what I did to the photos that made up the flyer for his Cracker show, Painful Truths, in which he split the bill with Ben Ellwood.

Radio Ha Ha Episode 34

Episode 34 was a tough one to do — it was the first one without co-host and co-founder of the show Tammy Tantschev, who has accepted work overseas. She's not left the country yet, but she has left the show — for all of a week — and I already miss her!

Anyway, this is the first episode to feature a 'guest co-host', as it were — stand-up comic Dave Jory.

The first time I met Dave — in fact the first time I met all the comedians in this episode, and Tammy for that matter, was during a heat of Raw Comedy, that competition to locate fresh talent run by the Melbourne International Comedy Festival every year.

As we discuss in the episode, my first impression of Dave — in his black suit, with his bald head, doing dark and shocking material that wasn't necessarily funny — was that he was scary enough to be one of those crims in a Guy Ritchie crime flick.

In addition to playing a bit of Dave’s stand-up, and discussing his development as a comic, we also feature an excellent piece from Sam Bowring. Sam's got an interesting story — having started doing comedy at age 17 at the now-legendary (and sadly defunct) Harold Park Hotel, formerly in Glebe. Since he was under-age, his father had to accompany him to the venue, as legal guardian. But his father wasn't allowed to see him perform — potentially, too embarrassing for Sam!

Not so now — I saw all of the Bowring family at a recent performance, where I got to record Sam. The routine involves him spitting venom at the proprietor of a pie company responsible for the worst pie he‘s ever ingested, and it was recorded — as was all the comedy apart from a little snippet of Dave’s stuff featured early on —live at the Mic In Hand; that’s the Thursday night gig at the Friend In Hand Hotel, Glebe, run by Sam Bowring and fellow stand-up comic Kent Valentine. (The other Dave Jory snippet was recorded at the Comedy Store, at Moore Park).

Actually, now that I think of it, Sam insists we met long before he tried out in Raw Comedy. When he was a 17 year-old open mic comic at the Harold Park Hotel, I was an earnest wannabe publisher, of a comedy zine called Stand & Deliver!. I don't remember encountering him there, but he certainly remembers me and my little zine — which still almost kind of exists, as my blog, also entitled Stand & Deliver!. Before I move on, I think I'd be withholding important information if I didn't add — for the less familiar — the fact that Sam Bowring was shortlisted for 'best newcomer' at this year's Melbourne International Comedy Festival. And Kent Valentine enjoyed a sell-out season (much to my embarrassment, virtually the only Sydney act I didn't see down there — only because every time I set aside an evening to see him, he was, of course, sold out!)

The other comedian whose work gets a run in Episode 34 is Mat Kenneally, another comic from the ranks of the legal fraternity (that gave us the likes of John Cleese, Tim Brooke-Taylor, James O'Loghlin and many others I should be able to name but can't off the top of my head right now). I got to know Mat this year because he was one of four comics appearing in The Comedy Zone — the show the Melbourne International Comedy Festival puts together by selecting a bunch of up-and-comers from a series of auditions. Of course, Mat insists that I saw him in a Raw final (he would have been a law student in Canberra then; I would have seen him in a NSW State final) and that I commended him on a particular routine for being politically aware and still very funny. I don't actually remember the conversation or the bit of material, but I can still commend Mat for producing that sort of comedy. In fact, it was a joy to see him MC at the Mic In Hand a couple of weeks ago; he was the MC at The Comedy Zone, and was great, but he's already come a long way since then!

If any of this interests you, you may read the transcript of the episode here;


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