Jarryd Goundrey: ‘Becoming a chef was almost like a gateway drug to being a comedian’

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Jarryd Goundrey: ‘Becoming a chef was almost like a gateway drug to being a comedian’

Words by Joanne Brookfield

Comedians tend to fall into one of two camps, those who picked up a mic when they were still slinging schoolbags over their shoulders or barely old enough to be legally allowed in the pub for the open mic night in the first place; and then there are those who live a life, taking different jobs and a much more circuitous route until they find their path to the stage.

For Jarryd Goundrey, he most definitely fits into this latter category. While some who work in showbiz will refer to those who don’t as ‘civilians’, it’s not a term we can use to describe Goundrey’s former life, given he was in the army for many years.

“I kind of joined by accident,” the Melbourne-based comedian says. Growing up in Perth, with friends going into trades and mines and knowing “that wasn’t me, I needed an escape” when his mum texted that she was going to be an hour late for a lunch meeting, Goundrey wandered into the army recruitment centre nearby “picked up a pamphlet and I was away”.

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“I was in the military from 18 to 25, which is just too young for anyone to make crazy decisions like that,” he admits. However, the experience saw his rise to the rank of Lance Corporal, where he looked after another eight soldiers, specialised as a Combat First Aider and travelled to countries like East Timor with the UN on peacekeeping missions, which was “amazingly eye-opening”.

However, a desire to create was stirring within him and having discovered an ability to cook in the army (“I used to make amazing things out of ration packs”) his next move was into the world of fine dining, working as a chef in Hatted restaurants.

Goundrey would find plenty of similarities in a professional kitchen: being overworked, working on your feet, and being yelled at. “But less knives in the kitchen,” he quips. “They’re just different colour uniforms, one’s green, one’s white, the same amount of tattoos, the same amount of drinking, so I fitted in quite well when I got there!”

It was during this time, working in Richmond, that fate would see to it that he’d attend an open mic night. He says it took him four months to build up the courage to have a go and he hasn’t stopped since.

“I’ve never felt so alive,” he says of the appeal of performing. “In life, you’re either thinking about the past or thinking about the future but when you do stand up, there’s no other way, you just have to be in the moment.”

“It’s like I always had this creative side, it was always in there trying to break out, and it was kind of like becoming a chef was almost like a gateway drug to being a comedian,” says Goundrey, who is now a full-time comedian.

Last year’s festival show, Incoming sold out its run at the 2022 Melbourne International Comedy and this year he returns to the festival as part of his first national tour with his latest hour-long show, Good Lord!

With such a varied background, Goundrey has no shortage of material but it’s his stories about being in the military that have seen him amass quite a following on TikTok, where his takes on veteran life have seen him clock up over 10 million views.

He’s now determined to use his platform (he’s also a podcast host) to not only entertain but to inspire and educate veterans and the wider community on the importance of mental health and support for those who have served our country.

As he talks with Beat, he drops in some stats that are sobering to say the least. “Since 1999, 41 Australian soldiers have been killed on active service but the number of soldiers that have taken their lives from serving in the same environment is over 1,600”.

Goundrey says he tackles this head-on in his shows, given humour is “such a great way to knock the walls down”. He says he’s frequently blown away by the people who come up to him after his shows, telling him how they have family members who have served but never really spoken about it until they’ve been able to have a laugh and then they start talking.

“Or they say ‘Hey, I’ve seen your stuff online. I thought I’d come down and just like to say thanks’” he says. While that side of things constitutes a big part of Good Lord!, Goundrey says the show, which he describes as high-energy storytelling, covers the gamut from the rise of technology, anxiety in dogs and discovering that his teenage daughter thinks he’s “lame”.

“It’s a joyful journey into the life and times of a 30-something-year-old Lord who can’t reign over his land, let alone keep his phone charged,” he says. A Lord? Yep, he sure is, but you’ll have to see the show to find out how that came to be.

Jarryd Goundrey is playing The Collection Bar in Richmond on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from March 30 until April 23. Grab tickets here.