Comedian Andrew Lee on 'morality and how hard it is to actually be good', as part of Sydney Fringe.
This year the Fringe will showcase the comedic talents of Andrew Lee, who is no novice when it comes to standing in front of crowds and making them laugh.
His latest show, 'White Knuckle Airlines' will touch on things such as racism, narcissistic people's reactions to tragedies, childhood trauma, mental illness, and trying to afford free range chicken.
What most frustrates you with the state of the world at the moment?
What frustrates me the most in the world is probably the tools that we have that are able to execute simple acts of altruism, but we give them too much weight. Like, sharing a post and getting some sort of hit of narcissistic ego boost from a simple act of pseudo-altruism. I know that is a dumb thing to get frustrated about but it's the idea of people invading the suffering of others for some sort of self-gratifying reason. I know that there are plenty of genuine issues in the world that need rectifying, but for some reason this is the one gripe I have with the world right now and I wish it wasn’t because essentially what I’m doing is getting pissed at people caring, but I’m concerned with the motive and validity of their care factor.
What can punters expect out of the night?
Punters can expect me to sit down on a stool for 45 minutes and get them to laugh at some pretty good jokes that I’ve spent a lot of time nailing down, and also I will talk to them, because I like to talk to the crowd and have them get involved with the premise of the joke. It’s more engaging when you can talk to the crowd as a unit, and they don’t feel nervous to interact. The content of the show is not for everybody but anything that I’ve chosen to do a joke about, I’ve thought really hard about it. I have a comedian friend that told me that my show makes TED talks look like they should be for kindergarteners, so if anything they’ll be interested for 45 minutes.
Why have you called the show 'White Knuckle Airlines'?
It’s a line from one of my jokes I do about getting depressed. I don’t think I use the line anymore in the joke, but it seems to fit the theme of the show which is a lot of things being brought up that might make things turbulent but I straighten it out. It’s essentially a 45-minute show of watching somebody trying to land a plane of ideas safely on the ground.
Do you draw a lot of your material from personal experience?
Yeah, either personal experiences or genuine beliefs about things. With the personal experiences it usually has to do with anxiety and mental illness, which I know is completely unoriginal but I still like to talk about it. Also about having a pretty strict dad who I love very much as well, but I mined some gold out of that childhood which felt pretty nice. With the personal beliefs, I know that they’re not for everyone but if I shape it in a way where people see where I’m coming from, even if they’re not on board with the point of view, they’ll laugh at the joke.
Are you more excited or nervous to be a part of such a big event that is Sydney Fringe?
I’m both nervous and excited which is normal, but I really love doing a longer set on stage instead of just doing five to ten minute spots. There’s more time to breathe on stage.
What made you decide to pursue stand-up as a career?
I originally wanted to be a script writer for comedy stuff but I didn’t know I was funny. So I signed up for an open mic and it was the best feeling ever. I always liked stand-up comedy, but never thought I could do it, because I was dumb and thought that people just say what’s coming from the top of their head and it’s hilarious. Then when I learned that stand-up is just about failing a bunch until something sticks, I thought 'I can do that'.
How has your stand-up changed over time?
My stand-up for the first three to six months was probably some of the most heinous things you could say just for the sake of saying them. I thought people were laughing, but they weren’t people, they were just other comics. So then I re-evaluated (I was told I had to stop saying horrible things for the sake of it) and decided to write stuff that was more personal to me. The jokes still came out dark and funny but it was about stuff I cared about saying on stage. I have a dark sense of humour and learned that if it comes from a place of authenticity, genuine curiosity and intrigue, the crowd usually can tell and it helps them ease into what I’m saying.
Have you thought about taking your material elsewhere in Australia, perhaps for a national tour?
I might take the material to Perth next year, or possibly Adelaide, but I’d really like to be able to make this just a really great hour of well thought-out jokes and then move on and do another show.