Image courtesy of Stewart Walker- (second from the right)
The Australia Times (TAT): When did you first start doing stand-up?
Stewart Walker (SW): It was during the comedy festival 5 years ago, thanks to a stunt on Adam Hill’s talk show Adam Hills in Gordon Street Tonight. In late Feb 2012 I was in the studio audience for Adam’s show and about a month beforehand they get you to do an audience survey. I mentioned that I had a bucket list wish to do a show at the comedy festival and that led to Adam calling my bluff on national TV!
I thought I was just going to watch his show being recorded but little did I know I was going to become part of the show. They booked a room at the Town Hall and even had a mobile billboard driving around town with a 3 metre tall picture of my face on it! You can check it out on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WbjDMFWWuqw
I then had 6 weeks to put together a 30 minute show. I wrote 8 new songs, chucked out a couple because they were rubbish and then did the remaining 6 plus a few I’d written previously.
TAT: Where was it and how did it go?
SW: It was in the Regent Room at the Melbourne Town Hall. On the night I had Dave O’Neil doing warmup and there was a live cross back to Adam in the studio. The audience had a great time and so did I, so I kept on doing comedy gigs and here I am 5 years later.
TAT: Why do you like comedy?
SW: As a performer I get a real buzz from creating something that amuses me and then sharing it with other people and seeing if they like it too.
As a punter I like comedy because it makes me laugh and I love laughing!
TAT: What’s an average day for you like, do you have a day job?
SW: Yeah I still have a day job. I’m a user experience specialist at a software company – my job is to make our software easier to use. So an average day for me is fitting in writing and performing around my day job. Sometimes I work on lyrics in my head in the shower or while shaving, then make some calls while I’m at lunch and do a gig in the evening. Last year I did a warm up gig before the comedy festival at work too.
TAT: How do you come up with your material?
SW: Inspiration can come from anywhere, whether it’s seeing the funny side of something that happens to you or taking the mickey out of celebrities or politicians. Recently I was listening to Gold 104 while driving and the song Centerfold was on. I had this flash of insight about the song being old-fashioned because these days people watch porn online, and that gave me an idea for making some jokes around how some classic hits might be different if they were written today. That resulted in a medley where I do technology-based updates to several famous songs including Hotel California (Air BNB California) and Big Yellow Taxi (Shiny Black Uber).
TAT: Who are your favourite comedians?
SW: Being a musical comedian I’m a big fan of The Scared Weird Little Guys. I was lucky enough to have Rusty from the Scaredies as the headliner in my comedy festival show last year. And of course amazing musical comedians like Weird Al, Eddie Perfect, Tripod and Tim Minchin are up there too.
With non-musical comedy my favourite would have to be Frank Woodley. Apart from his great standup I love his physical comedy and clowning – 2 things I have absolutely no talent for! Frank is a comedy genius and also did some great musical comedy with Colin Lane back in their Lano and Woodley days.
On the local scene my favourite is Geelong comedian Jake Budge. He’s a future superstar I reckon. Recently we were on the same bill at the Comics Lounge and in Jake’s 5 minutes he had more applause at his jokes than the several big-name pro comedians had combined that night.
TAT: How would you describe your style?
SW: The warped love child of Paul Kelly and The Scared Weird Little Guys! I do a mix of originals and parodies, and my parodies are mostly of classic hit type songs. In 2015 I did a solo comedy festival show that was all parodies of Beatles songs.
TAT: “Comedians are damaged people” Discuss
SW: I don’t know that we’re more damaged than anyone else. You might think this is a copout answer but everyone is damaged in some way and that damage affects different people differently. Trust me, there are plenty of damaged people working in IT!
TAT: What’s been your favourite or most memorable moment on stage?
SW: I do a parody of Cold Chisel’s Khe Sanh called Bo Ganh, based around a bogan from Frankston. The climax of the song is a lyric that says ‘it’s crap living in Frankston, but at least it aint Geelong’. I’ve done that song in Frankston and in Geelong too, and in both places it got huge laughs and I lived to tell the tale!
TAT: Do you like audience interaction?
SW: Maybe it’s because I do musical comedy and I’m making too much noise but I’ve had very little heckling. Sometimes I’ll get the audience to sing along or join in other ways. In my Beatles parody show I get all the audience joining in with some air drumming when I do my Come Together parody, Melbourne Weather.
TAT: Do you feel like it’s you on stage or a character?
SW: It’s definitely me. I don’t have enough acting chops to pull off doing a character!
TAT: Where do you perform normally?
SW: Most of my gigs are at various comedy nights around Melbourne and country Victoria. But I did some gigs in Shanghai and Hong Kong last year too, which was pretty cool.
TAT: Tell us about your show?
SW: I’m producing and performing in a show called the All Star Musical Comedy Showcase with Greg Champion & Friends. The show is on for one night only on Saturday 1 April with 90 minute performances at 7pm and 9pm. It’s a musical comedy variety show where the headliner is Greg Champion from the Coodabeen Champions radio show on 774 Melbourne, and then there’s Rohan Windle and me plus a feature act. The feature acts are cabaret star Claire Healy in the 7pm show and multi-award winner Geraldine Quinn in the 9pm show.
The show is on at the Australian Institute of Music at 120 King St Melbourne.
TAT: Why should people come and see it?
SW: People should come and see the show if they love musical comedy and variety. It’s not just blokes playing guitar and singing. We have other instruments and some amazing female musical comedy talent thanks to Claire and Geraldine.
TAT: What’s your favourite object?
SW: In China last year I bought a collapsible travel guitar that I use when doing gigs where I need to fly. It packs down into a carry on bag so I don’t need to risk a guitar in the cargo hold. And it sounds amazingly good. Love it!
TAT: Is there anything else you would like to add?
SW: Tickets are available from https://www.trybooking.com/NWMQ
You can catch All Star Musical Comedy Showcase with Greg Champion & Friends
When: Saturday 1st April
Where: Australian Institute of Music at 120 King St Melbourne.
Tickets: $25.30- $30.30
Special Information: Wheelchair accessible, suitable for ages 13 +
Links: FB, Stew Walker – Comedian