Peter Helliar: One Hot Mess

ABOUT THE WRITER: With a particular love for fashion, travel and events, Jade Byers-Pointer loves to creatively explore the world.

Audiences first saw Peter Helliar as an up and coming funny man and cast mate of Rove’s popular talk show. From radio to film, writing, producing, and directing the comedian has ticked a lot of boxes throughout his career. Critics have hailed Helliar as comedic brilliance and his stand up shows prove him to be the funny family man that everyone loves to watch. He still has much more to prove, however, now as a full-time co-host of one of Australia’s most popular shows The Project and a new stand-up show in the works. His much-anticipated show One Hot Mess is coming to Brisbane for one weekend only during the Brisbane Comedy Festival where Helliar will entertain his audiences over four packed shows. Here the comedian talks about writing, family and inspiration, and the pressure of making people laugh.

Has comedy always played a role in your life?
Yes. I was drawn to comedy on TV and at the movies and eventually drawn into watching stand-up comedy both on TV like on shows like The Big Gig and live. My family is a family that is close and likes to laugh a lot so there has always been humour in our house.

What is the story behind your newest stand-up show One Hot Mess?
It’s about an inspiring female photographer who gets into a relationship with an older woman. It’s set in the fifties… Hang on, I’m thinking of the movie Carol with Cate Blanchett. One Hot Mess is a bunch of observations about life in 2016. My life and your life, all our lives. Family, marriage, kids, pilates, technology, politics, society, sex and turning 40.

Do you find inspiration in other comedians?
Of course but I will never say which ones. It gives them too much power; it’ll go to their heads. I praised Sam Simmons once and then he goes off and wins the biggest comedy award in the world, so please understand I must keep such things to myself.

How is stand up different to working on television and film?
Stand up definitely involves less meetings. Way less meetings. In fact, I’ve had exactly no meetings with anyone for One Hot Mess. I have at least three a day on The Project. On a film, there are 7,000 meetings every week.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Interviewing Justin Bieber… Or Christopher Pyne tweeting me. To be honest just being able to do my live shows and having people come. Getting to play big rooms or sometimes big tents is something I don’t take for granted

Millions of people tune into The Project and you have sold out many of your stand-up shows. Why do you think so many people are drawn to comedy?
If I knew I would freak out and ruin it for myself. I don’t know but if I was to guess it would be my rugged handsomeness. My chin dimple is the cherry on that handsome sundae.

Do you ever have a fear that people won’t laugh? Is there pressure to make people laugh?
If people are paying to see you and they have chosen you out of lots of shows and maybe they’ve organised a babysitter then, of course, there is pressure. There needs to be pressure but comedians tend to have that pressure built into ourselves. Comics can have a reputation for being lazy. There are no lazy comics, they all quit and are now working at Harvey Norman or Subway.

Does your family play a role in your writing?
They do all my writing. The great thing about having three kids is I have them basically working in a joke sweatshop. They get paid a dollar a day and I expect three topical gags, two generic routines, one political gag and ten puns’ each and every day.

Do you have any advice for aspiring comedians?
Get on stage as much as you can. The way you get into a routine is as important as the way you get out so in other words the set-up is as important as the punch line and finally, don’t be a dick.

What is next for Peter Helliar?
Time Travel.

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