The only thing comedian Andrew Barnett knows is that he knows nothing.
That’s the premise of his latest live solo comedy hour, ‘Why’s Man’ in which Andrew puts the Socratic adage that the only true wisdom lies in knowing that you know nothing to the test.
“I’m very confident I know nothing,” Andrew says. “Because I’m 35 and I’ve got kids I thought that by now I’d know more than I do, that I’d actually have some knowledge. I realised that with young boys, at some point I’m going to have to give them some advice and so I’ve been trying to sort out some actual conventional wisdom I can hang my hat on for them.”
“The only thing I can really pass on to them so far is never step frontways into a hot shower because you might burn the end of your junk, but that's about the only real practical advice I can give them so far.”
Andrew will be performing ‘Why’s Man’ as part of this year’s Sydney Comedy Festival, and says he’s feeling positive and looking forward to revelling in the talent. “I’ve done the Sydney Comedy Festival for the past couple of years and every year the crowds build a little more and I love the festival. It's a fun month for Sydney comics, especially because everyone comes to you.”
“The good thing about the festival is that it brings everyone in and you get to see people you haven't seen in a while or you don’t see regularly enough and it's a really good vibe. The Sydney Comedy Festival is growing year after year and I’m very excited to be part of it again this year.”
Don’t be fooled by the punny title and pseudo-philosophical premise. Andrew has absolutely no intention of imparting anything other than undiluted belly laughs mostly at the expense of himself and his loved ones. “Audiences are probably best coming with no expectation of actually learning anything,” he says. “It's not one of those festival shows where you walk out feeling like you’ve gained insight into almost anything other than the fact I’m probably a bit of a dolt.”
“It's mostly a bit of silliness and you can probably expect that I will make fun of my kids and maybe my wife, but mostly myself. The idea is that these are the people I care most about in the world, so let's not pretend they don't have flaws.”
As Andrew continues his quest for sage advice he can pass onto his sons, he recalls the only wise words from his own father which have stayed with him through his life: “I realised the only advice my old man gave me which was great was: 'sometimes it's not what you say, it's how you say it'. I’ve thought about that a lot; you can say the same thing but in different ways so that the meaning is completely different.”
“Depending on how you say 'oh look she's all grown up', really changes with the context. You can say it as a proud father or uncle, or you could say it like a creepy guy, or even worse you could say it the way Rolf Harris would, with a disappointed tone. Context is everything.”
Andrew Barnett performs at the Enmore Theatre from 17-21 May.