Q: Your current festival show is described as a highlight reel of the best bits of your previous shows. How difficult is crafting a show around taking parts of one-hour shows out of their original context and presenting them in an entirely new light, presumably to people that were not at the original show?
A: It’s been quite a challenge to condense all five hours of comedy I’ve done in Australia into one show. I considered a show containing all the starts of my previous shows, a five-start rated show. But in the end I decided to just jam every single piece of humour into one hour via the method of time warping, speaking quickly and leaving bits out.
Q: A review of your show last year mentioned that it was somewhat jarring to blend your more surreal, absurdist material with that which discussed topics such as religion and the LGBT community. Is it important to you to remain as versatile a comic as possible, not ending up in any particular pigeonhole?
A: I don’t know about any of that. I don’t see why one couldn’t discuss both religion and surreal absurdism in the same show. Most religion is far more surreal and absurd than any of my warped ramblings. I mean, a talking snake? I can’t remember, was that from my show or from that book by God?
Q: There has always been an interesting blend within your stand-up of the observational and the abstract; often where the two combine in the most unexpected of ways. Is it ever an intentional matter of setting out to find a unique angle on common topics, or does it simply stem from your own personal viewpoint naturally?
A: Both. I do often think of things in abstract and surreal ways, but sometimes I just have normal thoughts like ‘I gotta wash this cauliflower’ or ‘Our society and government are cruel and heartless to the vulnerable’. But then it comes out all surreal when I think it. I’m creating new humour at the moment called ‘Literal Surrealism’, and there’s a piece called Immigration X-Factor that is a perfect example of this. It involves a man being deported and being made to sing Rihanna whilst crying. Sometimes the most powerful observations are made by surrealism.
Q: On one of your last visits to Australia, you appeared on a podcast called The Little Dum Dum Club. Your episode went on to become one of the most divisive in the show’s history due to your riffing and derailing. Have you found that being an acquired taste has worked in your benefit – as in, those that quote-unquote ‘get it’ are going to stick with you the most?
A: I don’t know. I’ve just been saying things for years and people seem to like it. So I just keep on saying things. I don’t know if it’s divisive, or an acquired taste. It’s just the things that come out of my mouth. Like Prunella Flagon’s loose leg. Some people love it, some people hate it. Don’t ask me. Blame Prunella.
Q: What are your plans for the rest of the year? With a show that focuses on older material doing the circuit at the moment, are you planning something big for your next hour show?
A: Yes. I have been working on my next hour show since January 2015. It will contain Literal Surrealism, which uses surrealism and madness to make powerful observational points that observational comedy cannot. It will premier at the Edinburgh Festival this August and hopefully come to Australia next March and April.
Q: Lastly, What have been your best and worst moments performing Australial.
A: I loved performing in the Sydney Opera House. That was very exciting. It’s so beautiful there. My worst moment was one night in Adelaide when I went to bed hungry because it was Sunday and all the shops were shut. I had to survive on a few nuts and overpriced sparkling water.
BY DAVID JAMES YOUNG