“[Co-writer] Heath and I had been doing comedy for 14 years, and now we've got kids that are growing up and wanting to see our shows. And they should never, ever be allowed to watch our regular stand-up shows. So we thought, 'why don't we put a show together that our kids can come and watch?' And that's what we did.
“I'm not saying that I'm the best kids entertainer in the world. In fact I don't think I'm even close to the top rung. But there's something that really upsets me that I've noticed since my child was born, and that is how adults talk down to children. I don't think children are stupid. I think they're idiots, but they're quite intuitive and smart. If you talk with them I think they get more out of it.
“And that way you can also include the parents. The way to achieve that is with some very well-hidden innuendo. We even drop jokes that are not necessarily rude, but just are at a different level to a four- or eight-year-old, and it’s just to keep the parents entertained. From a purely marketing point of view, if you get the parents, they're going to tell other parents, and the parents are the ones with a wallet.”
At this year's Brisbane Comedy Festival, Harley has ditched the Captain Funpants moniker, instead focussing on the smaller things in life, like smelling the penguins for his new solo show. What!? You'll have to trust Harley on that one.
So how does writing a traditional stand-up-routine compare to Captain Funpants? “I don't think there's a difference in the writing. Captain Funpants is more of a pantomime. I was going to say it’s a bit more base humour, but if you've seen my live show, then, well I’m already pretty base.
“The main difference in the writing style is that for me as a solo stand-up, I'm writing for myself, I know what my voice is, I know what I'm talking about. And after this many years I'm fairly intuitive with what will work. Whereas writing for Captain Funpants is a collaborative show, it's about Heath and I knowing each other, and knowing our voice. This is my number one rule: understand the importance of a duo having a straight man and a funny man. You can't both be out there competing for the gag.”
Even after a career as his, Harley is still slightly resistant to the 'funny man' label. “It's really hard to even say that you consider yourself funny. I only consider myself funny on the purely analytical, professional level. I am funny because my job requires me to be, therefore I am.
“I think there's a difference between being a funny person and being able to write funny. The funniest people in my life are not stand-up comics. I have two mates: whenever I'm around them I'm in constant fits of laughter. But if you put them in front of a crowd, they'd seize up completely. They've helped my routines over the years, if only just in recounting my friends' stupidity.” Because really, what else are friends for?
Harley Breen's Smell The Penguins Dates12 Feb to 13 Mar - The Garden @ Adelaide Fringe (excluding Mondays & 28 Feb)
15-20 Mar - Brisbane Powerhouse @ Brisbane Comedy Festival
24 Mar to 17 Apr - Melbourne International Comedy Festival (excluding Mondays)
Captain Funpants And The Mystery Of The Funomatic Funwand Dates13-27 Feb - Adelaide Fringe (Sat & Sun only)
26 Mar to 3 Apr - Melbourne International Comedy Festival (Fri to Sun only)