After 20 years of doing shows in Australia, we’ve officially adopted UK comedian Jeff Green as one of our own. Luckily, he’s done the same thing by becoming an official Melbourne resident. You’ve been doing shows in Australia for over 20 years; what changes have you seen in this time?
To be honest, Australia got richer. When I came over in 1996, everybody used to drive Datson 120Y cars, used to wear tracksuit pants and were just interested in having a barbie, it was really just that Australian, larrikin atmosphere.
Since then, since the mining boom and economic expansion, everyone’s got an investment property, negative gearing, John Howard. I think people are richer, but I don’t know if you’re happier.
In terms of comedy, when I came in 1996, I was a veteran even then and the standard of comedy was quite average. There were a few young kids on the rise: Wil Anderson, Dave Hughes and Carl Barron, they were just starting out. It’s been amazing to watch them grow. I love talent and the talent in Australia has definitely risen.
What changes have you seen in yourself during this time?
Haha, more back hair? I think I’m a better comic. I mean it's natural, you do more work and you get better. I think one of the problems of a comedian is losing relevance. That’s what an audience wants; they want you to be authentic.
They want you to be relevant and the problem with some of the bigger comedians is they’re so rich they don’t know how to connect with real people. I found my problem is that I hadn’t suffered in the way most people have. So since marriage, since the move to Australia, since the kids I’ve suffered and it’s made me a better comedian and it’s made me a better person, I think. You live in Melbourne but born in Chester, UK. How is it as an expat watching Brexit from afar?
I’m glad I’m not amongst it, but I’m very, very sad and ashamed. I think the people that drove Brexit are people like my dad who’s 83 and it’s kind of like: 'Why have you killed my children’s future on your behalf?'. The young vote wanted to stay in the union and the old people voted them out! With the rising of a divided world, Brexit in the UK, Trump in America and the resurgence of One Nation here, there’s been talk that people aren’t taking these things seriously, they make jokes and then are shocked when terrible things happen. Do you think it’s better to fight this resurgence of hate with humour or sincerity?
Ahhhhh humour. Listen, whatever gets people’s attention. I’m not claiming to be a great satirist but there are some out there and you can capture a lot of truth in a good joke. I don’t always have the skill to do that, but when you hear a great joke that also tells the truth it’s a wonderful thing.
I think that’s most important now, ordinary people are looking to the people with the microphones to say something and say something of value.
Your book has sold more than 300,000 copies worldwide. Your radio show had over three million listeners. How does it feel to have so many people taking your advice?
Well, if they actually took it according to my books and stand-up, they’d be me! And I wouldn’t want that for anyone.
To be honest, I don’t dwell on the things that I’ve done. I’m a firm believer in that you’re only as good as your last gig and if you’ve read your own reviews and Wikipedia pages there’s a possibility that you become complacent.
The future's what’s always been important to me, what comes next. Your new show is called 'Honestly'. What’s one thing that you honestly prefer about the Australian stand-up scene as compared to the UK scene?
Honestly, I find I’m more creative over here. The thing that creates comedians is being an outsider. All these great comedians: Sammy J, Luke McGregor, Judith Lucy, they’re all outsiders and that’s a strength in comedy. I’m out of place in Australia, so I get a lot of good material from that. My last question is more of a task. Can you tell me in three sentences why people absolutely have to see 'Honestly' at the Brisbane Comedy Festival?
People have laughed at it previously. Brisbane has always supported me. I tell a lot of home truths and I’m the best in my price range.
Jeff Green Tour Dates
17-19 Mar - Brisbane Powerhouse Sat 25 Mar - Canberra Comedy Festival 30 Mar-23 Apr - Melbourne International Comedy Festival
12 May - Sydney Comedy Festival