Harley Breen wants to make Australia ocker again

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Harley Breen wants to make Australia ocker again

Words by Zachary Snowdon Smith

“Just because you sound like an ocker Aussie, doesn’t mean you don’t have deep thoughts,” says Breen.

With his well-trimmed chevron moustache and a penchant for checked flannel shirts, Breen could be a Fitzroy native, but the comedian grew up in rural Queensland, where life is a bit slower-paced. In his new show, Flat Out Doing Nothing, Breen asks if many career men aren’t just noodling their lives away.

“Men are so busy, but we’re not actually engaging in life,” says Breen. “We’re not actually engaging the parts of life we should be. So, why are you so busy, mate? You’re actually doin’ nothing. These busy days of trivial pursuits are not actually what life is about. Moments of engagement with friends and family are what we’re actually meant to be spending our time doing.”

You may wonder what qualifies a stand-up comedian to talk about the nine-to-five, but Breen speaks from experience. In November 2017, Breen quit his job as a breakfast presenter on Sydney’s 2Day FM in order to do stand-up full-time. Getting up at 4am and speaking to an invisible audience through a microphone made it tougher to deliver authentic humour, he says.

“Breakfast radio is just filling space between other noise while people are off to their jobs,” says Breen. “Everyone there was great, but you can’t say ‘fuck’ and you can’t talk about this or that because legal are listening. It was a challenge leaving a secure job, the first secure job I’ve had as an entertainer. But if you’re just safe and secure and comfortable, what have you got to talk about?”

Breen now spends his days tinkering with carpentry projects – he’s currently working on a fox-proof chicken coop – and spending time with his wife and kids. Though Breen is the most laid-back bloke you’re likely to meet outside of Surfers Paradise, he’s never really off the clock when it comes to his act.

“Comedy is not a thing where you go, ‘Oh, I might do that,’ and then you rock up on the night and you do it,” says Breen. “There’s months of me sitting in a café or in my backyard or riding my bike, just staring into the distance and waiting for those moments to appear in my mind so that I can convert them to something that I’m performing onstage.”

After Flat Out Doing Nothing, Breen has plans to help launch a comedy TV program, but he’ll always have a foot in the stand-up club scene, he says.

“My preference is always for the biggest room that’s full – it’s good for the bank balance, isn’t it?” laughs Breen. “But, really, whatever the room is, so long as it’s full of people who want to see me, we’re gonna have a good night.”