Image courtesy of Luke Leonard
The Australia Times (TAT): Happy Valentine’s day Luke.
Luke Leonard: This is my ideal Valentine’s day- talking about comedy.
TAT: When did you first start doing stand-up?
LL: Coming on four years now, like most people I just did RAW. Went and did my little one liners. Before that I spent a long time playing in bands, I was always the one talking garbage in between songs.
TAT: How did RAW go?
LL: Good, I remember my then two year old child kept shouting ‘DAD’ and had to be removed.
TAT: Let’s go back to the band, what instrument did you play?
LL: I played bass and sung in some exceptionally unsuccessful bands in the city. My biggest musical claim to fame would be being too drunk to be successful for an audition for Faker, who had short lived success.
TAT: Why do you like comedy?
LL: I can’t think of a better way to spend your time then laughing your ass off. Whether it’s with podcasts or whatever, I try and spend as much time doubled over laughing as possible. Even when I’m on stage, I often end up in hysterics myself. There’s very little money in comedy so you know it’s a philosophically sound choice.
TAT: Do you have a day job?
LL: I manage a hair salon, and I do trivia.
TAT: How do you come up with your material?
LL: My festival show is very different to the rest of my material, it’s narrative driven. It’s a story that’s completely autobiographical. For the most part the comedy was secondary to wanting to tell the story. Then the comedy comes from the story. It wasn’t like I had a bunch of reliable jokes that I decided to use.
TAT: Who are your favourite comedians?
LL: I really like absurdist comics, one of my favourite Australian comics is Neal Portenza, I can see him multiple times doing the same show and it’s just such a an absurdly, joyous, ridiculous scenario. I caught Lessons with Louis this year at the Festival, I saw him doing the RAW National Final years ago and really enjoyed it. I saw the show this year and I was just blown away. Both of those guys have a sweetness and a ridiculousness that I don’t have, I think I find that refreshing.
Absolute idols for what I do- are people like Adrienne Truscott who did Asking For It years ago, and she still does that globally. That’s the show where she performs devoid of pants and the whole thing is about rape jokes. It’s mind-blowing, brave, ridiculously gutsy and hysterically funny with such a light touch on a heavy subject.
Basically I want to see blood on the stage, I want to see someone putting their heart out of stage.
TAT: How would you describe your style?
LL: I try not to play safe which makes for some interesting reactions. I try and make whatever I do emotionally honest.
TAT: “Comedians are damaged people”
LL: I don’t think you have to be, but I’m yet to meet one that isn’t (laughs). No-one wants to get on stage and tell a bunch of jokes and share their inner most thoughts. That’s not a reasonable, self- preserving thing to do, you expose yourself to a lot of harsh criticism. I think it’s something people do out of compulsion.
TAT: What’s been your favourite moment on stage?
LL: There’s a been a few- at one show, I asked the audience if anyone had a shit tattoo, and an exceedingly drunk woman just did a big ‘woo’ and then proceeded to get on to stage without being asked and started taking her pants off to show everyone. She was very drunk and had trouble getting them off and I stood back, because I’m a fan of chaos and a naturally curious person so I thought ‘let’s see where this goes.’ Eventually the venue manger came and pulled her off stage.
TAT: Do you like audience interaction?
LL: Yeah I’m okay with that stuff, I’ve never had any real anxiety about that. I did a lot of vaudeville shows- for about a year I’d do two to three a week. The audiences for those shows are in from the suburbs, or in from out of town and their there for a big night out. It’s the kind of show where they encourage that (audience interaction) in every act, so the audience were very loopy, and I find that fun. Nine times out of ten you’re going to be funnier than the audience, because you’ve prepped yourself- your switched on and their drunk.
TAT: Tell us about your show?
LL: It’s a true story about growing up (myself and my brother) and it’s about how we turn boys into men by teaching them violence essentially. Everything to do with being a man is about violence in some way. There’s phrases like ‘take it on the chin’, ‘harden up’ which is about knocking sensitivity and consideration out. It’s a show about how that can go wrong. A really raw autobiography.
TAT: Why should people come and see it?
LL: I’ve really poured myself into this, probably the best bit of writing I’ve ever done. It’s a show that’s on a prevalent theme- men’s violence.
TAT: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
LL: Yeah- what’ s with airline food? (laughs)
You can see Luke’s show:
When: 31st March, 1st-3rd April, and 22nd-23rd April
Where: Imperial Hotel (Cnr Bourke & Spring Sts)
Special Information: Venue is wheelchair accessible