A divine presence is likely watching over British comedian Kelsey De Almeida.
When the COVID pandemic struck, Kelsey was performing in Adelaide. As the world shut down, he became stuck in Australia. Instead of panicking, he took it as a sign and has settled in Melbourne.
“I never intended on living in Australia,” Kelsey says. “I was meant to be back home in April last year, but I’ve just paid ten grand for a partner visa to stay in this country and maybe eventually become a citizen, which isn’t something I planned on happening at all. It’s not by choice, but sometimes the best choices happen upon you.”
The cancellation of last year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival left the city without laughs. But this year the festival returns, and Kelsey will take the stage as part of the 'Best Of The Edinburgh Fest' showcase, bringing laughs to the city that has accidentally become his home.
Kelsey’s comedy career has been full of happy accidents, beginning at age 19 with being booked for his first gig, a comedy competition, when he only meant to enquire. But, 11 months later, he impressed comedy star Stephen K Amos and was asked to open for him.
“I remember opening my notebook and going, ‘I don’t have 15 minutes of material!’ I got to the venue having memorised what I thought was a good 15, and the venue manager said I had to do at least 25 minutes. Stephen said, ‘Just do what you want’. The amazing thing was I did 25 minutes. I don’t know if it was a good 25 minutes, but it was enough for him to ask me what I was doing the next night,” he laughs.
Alongside comedy, Kelsey’s other passion is his Christianity – a trait even he admits is odd but has provided a lot of fodder for his career. “My parents are atheists, but I’m Christian,” he says. “I don’t know how it happened. I guess you could call it a calling.”
“I like playing with the fact that I don’t look or act like the stereotypical Christian. It’s fun seeing peoples’ reactions because about one in ten people ask me if I’m a character act because it’s so unbelievable a 25-year-old can talk about not drinking for religious reasons.”
The reactions to Kelsey’s spirituality have inspired him to explore odd beliefs with his podcast, 'Anti Sceptic'. “That, and unbelievable boredom in lockdown,” he laughs.
Through the podcast, Kelsey has interviewed guests such as a spirit medium, a flat-earther astrologist, and a ghost hunter. “The ghost hunter bought a haunted doll off of eBay,” he says. We talked about what happened in her house, if she got any feelings, and the fact she bought it on eBay. I found it really funny that they charged for it. You’d think they’d just want to get rid of it,” he laughs.
Now that the Comedy Festival has returned, Kelsey is excited to return to his calling, and to make Melbourne laugh again. “I want people to come in and escape from the horrors of lockdown,” he says. “Just come for a laugh; you’re not going to learn anything, it’s not a lecture. It’s about time Melbourne has fun again.”
'Best Of The Edinburgh Fest' plays Forum Melbourne (Melbourne International Comedy Festival) 25 March-18 April.