Tom Gleeson is one of Australia’s favourite comedians. And what’s not to love? He enjoys a dig at himself, he enjoys a hilarious but honest dig at others, plus he’s graced the prime time TV scene with some classics over the years with the likes of: ‘skitHOUSE’, ‘Rove Live’, ‘The Project’, ‘Thanks God You’re Here’, and currently asks the hard-fast-cracking questions to celebs on ABC’s ‘The Weekly’ with Charlie Pickering.
Tom’s stand-up is deservedly acclaimed also. It’s an aggressive and witty stroll through life’s moments that’ll make you laugh, think, and laugh even more. The three-time Helpmann Award nominee is following up his self-titled tour of Australia in 2015 with a trip to Brisbane Comedy Festival in March. He keeps his cards close to his chest, gives us an insight into what comedy means to him and tells us what else he’s up to when in Brisbane next month.
Comedians have really come into their own being able to wear a few hats: on radio, television, the big screen, in print or online, while also touring their shows around the country. How have you managed to become a part of everyday life?
Why is Comedy so important to society?
Making fun of important people is a great way to drag people back down to Earth. That includes me! Comedy hammers the ego’s feet firmly to the floor.
What do you think is a comedian’s role in today’s society, particularly when it comes to touring shows?
It’s often said that comedy is a way of getting people to forget their troubles. At my shows, I like people to remember their troubles and then laugh at them and then shit on them.
What would you call your own signature style of comedy? What do you try to achieve with each show?
I don’t know…an abrasive cynical joy to watch? ‘Achieve’ is a weird word. It makes the gig sound like a task as opposed to the freewheeling form of self-expression that I aim for.
Political correctness is so rampant these days: how do you manage to deal with it when being a comedian sometimes means taking the piss out of anything and anyone? When does comedy step across that line?
You can say whatever you want. When I was in Afghanistan, an officer said I could say whatever I want, so long as I didn’t say c***. So I went on stage and said, “He said I could say whatever I want, as long as I don’t say c***.” It got a big laugh and no one gave a shit. I didn’t get sent back to Australia. In fact, they invited me back.
How do you push yourself to develop as a comedian?
I do a brand new one hour show all the Australian festivals every year. New material forces you to be relevant and true to your current point of view.
Where do you find new material?
I try to stick to the stuff that makes my friends and I laugh late at night. The good gear; politics, religion, families, idiots…
How do you balance your science background with comedy?
I don’t. I graduated from Science 20 years ago and never used it. So the scales are weighted very heavily towards comedy.
What do you look forward to when you come to Brisbane?
Warm weather and I’m usually without kids, so I also like visiting the Museum of Modern Art and the movies, where I catch up on family unfriendly films.
What can audiences expect from your upcoming show for the Brisbane Comedy Festival?
They can expect to be surprised because I’m not giving anything away here.