Image courtesy of Alex White
Interview with Sydney based comedian Alex White, who is performing in a showcase of Sydney’s comic talent at Melbourne International Comedy Festival (MICF).
The Australia Times (TAT): When did you first start doing stand-up?
Alex White (AW): I started in April 2014. I had moved to Sydney and watched a show and there were some people on that were good, but others that weren’t that amazing, and it gave me the urge to have a crack.
TAT: Where was it and how did it go?
AW: It was at a place called Comedy on the Edge in Chippendale. I bombed beyond belief but so did everyone so I didn’t feel that bad.
TAT: Why do you like comedy?
AW: Standup is so much fun because it’s a creative outlet with the fastest feedback loop possible. You can write a joke and perform it 30 mins later and it’s judged there and then. You can riff lines on stage that you just use from that point on. Very few other artforms are like that. Plus it’s so frustratingly unscientific. People do it for 10-15 years and still don’t have it completely figured out. It’s such a unique learning curve.
TAT: What’s an average day for you like, do you have a day job?
AW: I work in IT, it’s a job I used to really enjoy but comedy just kills the part of your brain that puts up with routine and the mundane so now I hate it. I used to like working in an office because it was laid back but now I just want to make facebook memes all day. A few weeks ago I scheduled myself into a meeting room and hid in there to make a meme about a comedy room that I run. I felt really bad but the meme got some heat so it was probably worth it.
TAT: How do you come up with your material?
AW: Most of my favorite bits just sort of come to me during the day unprompted and I’ll note them down and then work on them later. I’ve tried to sit and actually come up with ideas but it rarely works. Every now and then I’ll go through my ideas list, and I hope this list never fall into the hands of my enemies because it’s mostly bottom tier horrible.
TAT: Who are your favourite comedians?
AW: Norm Macdonald is the best because he is still at the top of his game. Patrice Oneal went out on top as well. They are definitely my two favorites. I used to be a huge David Cross and Seinfeld fan but they both haven’t really fired for me in a while.
TAT: How would you describe your style
AW: Pure observational comedy. In Sydney we call them obsos. I don’t do many yarns on stage. If people wanted to hear a story they’d go to a storytelling night. Get to the obsos!
TAT: “Comedians are damaged people” Discuss
AW: Comedy attracts smart people and then slowly damages them. They are smart enough to know that they would be much more successful in a regular career but they love it too much to leave. Also comedy attracts complete nutcases as well, which is the best thing about comedy. There is a guy called Punny Tourettes who was in the Sydney scene for a little bit and everyone still talks about him. He was just something else. You don’t get that in an office job. “Hey remember that guy who used to work in payroll for a few weeks in 2015? Punny Tourettes?”. I’ll never quit comedy for this exact reason.
TAT: What’s been your favourite or most memorable moment on stage?
AW: Very early on I did a spot at Cafe Lounge in Sydney and did fairly well, nothing amazing but didn’t embarrass myself. Tom Ballard was the MC which was really cool, but then after my set Wil Anderson did a drop in spot and crushed. It was pretty cool to be brought on and then followed by two huge acts like that.
TAT: Do you like audience interaction?
AW: Definitely, as long as I’m instigating it. If someone is just being chatty I’ll only talk to them to try and shut them up. Once they have I’m happy just doing my material. If I’m stinking up the joint I’ll try to do some crowd work to pull myself out of a hole which sometimes can work. I saw John Conway’s fringe show in Sydney where he just did essentially an hour of crowd work with maybe 8 minutes of jokes and it was amazing how effortless he made the whole thing seem.
TAT: Do you feel like it’s you on stage or a character?
AW: It’s definitely not a character. Maybe an exaggerated version of me. If I truly believe in the point I’m making in a joke I feel it does better. I rarely wear my face paint on stage anymore too so I think it’s getting closer to the real me.
TAT: Where do you perform normally?
AW: Sydney has a good scene now. There are five sign up on the night rooms, plus you can get 1-2 booked gigs on top of that if you can be bothered to hustle for them. I run a booked room on Fridays called Powerbomb which I do once a month as well.
TAT: Let’s talk about the show, and the other comedians in it. When did you form as a group?
AW: We had all done various forms of split bills for the past two years before deciding we wanted to do Adelaide and Melbourne, so the idea was to combine forces to make the whole thing easier to manage.
TAT: Are you all friends?
AW: We had 8 of us in an airbnb with 4 beds and 2 couches in Adelaide. If you do a gig, drink all night then share a double bed with a guy, you form a special bond.
TAT: Tell us about your show?
AW: It’s a straight stand up show featuring 5 of Sydney’s best up and coming comics. We have a roster of 7 acts who will be rotating in and out to keep the show fresh. It’s a small, fun room, and based on how it went in Adelaide we’ll all be having a few beers and making it a really loose fun show. There is nothing worse than a rigid, boring standup showcase and we know if we have fun the audience will too, so that’s our aim.
TAT: Why should people come and see it?
AW: It’s a great little showcase of different acts you won’t get to see regularly in Melbourne. Despite us all being friends and doing comedy together all our styles are very different so it’s a tasty little smorgasboard of standup. Ticket prices are cheap and it’s on at 7pm so it’s the perfect little warmup gig to go catch before seeing another show.
TAT: What’s your favourite object?
AW: My USB containing a video of Charlie Mccann’s 2015 Raw set.
TAT: Is there anything else you would like to add?
AW: To any punters out there, come to our show. To any comics out there, just keep getting up.
You can catch Alex, and the showcase of Sydney comics…
When: 12th-23rd April (except the 18th), 7pm
Where: The Bull and Bear Tavern, 347 Flinders Lane
Tickets: $7.80 – $15.30
Other information: Venue is wheelchair accessible