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Image courtesy of Richard Wielga

Richard Wielga is the creative genius behind one-man show Willem Richards is Bringing Out the Cheeseboard. In Melbourne for the 30th Melbourne International Comedy Festival, The Australia Times Theatre asked him to answer 6 questions about his festival experience:

The Australia Times (TAT): Is this your first time performing at Melbourne International Comedy Festival? If so, is this also the first time you’ve performed this show?

Richard Wielga (RW): First time handing around a cheeseboard to start a Comedy Fest show, that’s for sure! While I know people have really got into the cheeses I’ve been offering, I hope not more so than the comedy!

TAT: What inspired you to write this show in particular?

RW: My Dad. He was one of those larger-than-life tennis-coach Dad’s (self-appointed, of course) through my childhood. I wanted to share my experiences of growing up with my Dad getting more and more involved in my tennis. He’s given me hell but I still love the guy!

TAT: How important is hospitality to you? Is breaking out the cheeseboard an act of friendliness or the epitome of a good host?

RW: I involve the crowd in my show quite a lot so the cheeseboard for me is a fun way for the audience to see me as just a nice, normal guy (hopefully) that wants to get to them rather than a ‘comedian’ that wants to make fun of them. One of my aims as a performer is to have the audience feel supported and loved so the stage is a safe and super fun space for everyone. I know it sounds corny to ‘love’ your audience but its true for me.

TAT: Apart from your show, what would you recommend in MICF?

RW: I haven’t seen any shows yet since I’ve been busy performing. But one of my comedy heroes is Steen Raskopoulos – his show You Know the Drill is one I’m very keen to see. His ability to improvise with the audience with love and support is something I aspire to.

TAT: Favourite place to get a post-show drink?

RW: My place, alone with a peppermint tea infused with fresh honey and lemon. Sometimes I settle for a tea that is not infused. I’m not fussy like that.

TAT: What are your plans after MICF?

RW: Stocking up my supplies of peppermint tea.

You can catch Richard as his alter-ego Willem Richards at the Downstairs Lounge of the Mercure Hotel until 3rd April 2016.