It's not every day you get to chat with a Logie winner before breakfast.
So it was a lucky day for this writer, chatting with Dilruk Jayasinha – Most Popular New Talent 2018 for his role in ABC sitcom 'Utopia', among other things – currently featuring in the Melbourne International Comedy Festival (MICF) Roadshow.
The annual comedy convoy has line-ups touring the nation simultaneously, taking the festival to 80 regional and capital cities and towns across every state and territory.
More than ever it’s making the most of homegrown talent with Andy Saunders, Dave Thornton, Nath Valvo, Randy, Geraldine Hickey (Winner, Most Outstanding Show, MICF 2021) and adopted Aussies Cal Wilson, Bob Franklin and Ivan Aristeguieta joining Dil, along with his own current favourite.
”Nikki Britton is someone whose work I’m really blown away by year after year,” Dilruk says. “She’s really funny. Anyone who hasn’t seen her work should seek it out.”
International comedians who’ve been ‘trapped’ down under since 2020, Carl Donnelly (UK) and Japan’s fastest rising comedy export Takashi Wakasugi, have also boarded the tour bus with soon-to-be-household-names including Jude Pearl, Brett Blake, Chris Ryan, Michelle Brasier, Kirsty Webeck, Ben Knight, and Canadian-raised Tor Snyder.
Despite border changes, Dilruk fans can thank a WA love interest for ensuring the usually Victorian-based stand-up entered the state in plenty of time to make his next scheduled Roadshow appearance.
At a gig last month north of Perth, Dil demonstrated not only his incredibly high LPM (rate of laughs per minute) but commitment to the art, making a three-hour round trip to perform in a marquee during a rain storm on a day he’d put his back out – dedication for which the crowd showed ebullient appreciation.
The energetic and affable Sri Lankan Aussie accountant (“not a good one” he confesses) turned comedian seems a hit wherever he goes and his spirits aren’t at all dampened by the fact that’s currently confined to this continent.
“In 2017 my mum and dad saw me headline one of the big comedy clubs in Melbourne and I was like ‘ah, this is what I’ve been chasing, their joy and excitement to see me do this thing that I love’,” Dilruk says. “From there, everything I’ve done has been like a bonus.”
That includes acting alongside 'Xena Warrior Princess'’ Lucy Lawless (“if I told that to a teenage me, ah!”); a stint on 'I’m a Celebrity…' – the 24-hour intensity of which Dil says no amount of hours in a Torago with comedians could have prepared him for – and his podcast 'Fitbet' about two comedians’ epic weight-loss journeys.
“Prioritising my health hasn’t been something that comes naturally to me. You can’t spend 32 years overeating and drinking too much and automatically just stop and you’re suddenly healthy; it takes a daily effort to try and not fall back into those habits,” he says.
“Especially during lockdown and the pandemic; it’s nice to have a community to reach out to and chat through those difficulties.”
While, from the outside, Dilruk seems to be crushing all aspects of life and living up to his name (Jayasinha translating to ‘victorious lion’), the joyful comic remains humble.
“I literally have, career-wise, done more than I ever thought I was going to, (but) this could all go south tomorrow, so I don’t want to be one of those people that looks back and goes ‘oh dammit, I wish I enjoyed it more when I had it’.”
Be like Dil (don’t be a dill) and do seize the opportunity to seek some laughs in some truly unique and beautiful locations around Australia right now with some of our best lol-makers.
For information on the tour, head to the Melbourne International Comedy Festival website. The Roadshow is on until early July.