Russell Howard On How To Find Universal Connections And 'Be More Russell'

Russell Howard
Joshua (he/him) is from Boorloo, Western Australia. Outside writing for scenestr and FROOTY, he is an active member of the arts and cultural industries, specialising in Film and Theatre management.

Russell Howard talks about his upcoming Australian tour, the inspirations and kernels behind his sets, news, politics, the art of laughter, and the complexities of music analogies: “That’s why it’s such a fascinating job as a stand-up, you’re like a musical instrument, you’re always trying to learn how to play yourself.”

As we reel from one global crisis to the next, Russell Howard is set to put the world to rights and sink his teeth into a uniquely hilarious tour coming to Australia this year. “It’s a completely different show from 'Lubricant' – we did 250 in the UK, and it started off as one thing, then it blended into another. A lot of stuff about death, love and relationships, a bit of everything really.”

But what notes are involved in a tour that will feature many different audiences, and what starts the ball rolling for such an album of creative work?

“I saw some footage of some grandmothers – I assume, they looked like grandmothers – in the Ukraine making missiles, and they were laughing in the video. . . And I completely understood that. Because if your life is that brutal, you need giggles to get through the gloom.”

“That was the first kernel – the necessity of laughter in the bleakest moments, and just imagining these awful, evil granny jokes about Putin – and then it morphed into all the issues and problems we’re going through, like war, and climate change, inflation. There’s this blizzard of clickbait masking everyone’s attention.”

Kicking off at Sydney’s Aware Super Theatre in February, Howard is set to travel the country, concluding his Australian tour in March. Audiences can expect slight differences from city to city: “I would hate to be that comic that walks on stage and does the same version. It’s not me, and it’s boring.”

Howard is known to research the news while in each new city, which comes with the territory of an international comic. While in America [October], he mentioned the ripple effect of Taylor Swift at football games, and how she eclipsed the news of the Middle East and a teetering government. “Janet Jackson had to get her tit out – the game’s changing!”

While this joke worked in America, it wasn’t as impactful in the United Kingdom, he reflects. “You just have to let it go, some things stay in the gig and some have to stay in the country.”

“Sometimes there’s no rhyme or reason, sometimes you’re just not singing in their language. But that’s the best part, trying to find those universal connections – they’re probably love, death, and relationships, food, and sport. Rather than the granular, it’s the emotional.”

On speaking about Will Ferrell’s 'SNL' audition tape, where the actor pretended to be a cat, Howard had this to say: “There’s something important about it, a human being with just the audacity to be a lunatic, and it’s beautifully necessary. I’d be amazed if that video hasn’t pulled people out of real despair.”

“I have such a reverence for stand-up and comedy because I love it, I feel like your job is to make it as great as possible so that people come out feeling glad to be alive!”

Whether you’re new to Russell Howard’s comedy or have seen his viral TikTok videos or YouTube specials, the English comedian has a knack for inspiring audiences with laughter, and new perspectives. When asked what he felt was a piece of advice not widely mentioned in the industry, he had this to say:

“There’s a brilliant documentary, called 'The Zen Diaries Of Garry Shandling'. He was this genius comedian, and you get these snippets of his diary, with Judd Apatow going through them. There’s this phrase he repeats, ‘I need to be more Garry, don’t just write these jokes’. It’s that ‘be more Beyonce, be more Joshua’ whatever the thing is – just be you to the max, rather than adhere to a formula or pattern. I really like the simplicity of 'Be More Russell'. What you find funny, not what will work. Be like yourself when you’re with your mates, when you’re the most creative.”

Russell Howard 2024 Australia Tour Dates

15 February – Aware Super Theatre (Sydney)
17 February – Civic Theatre (Newcastle)
18 February – Wollongong Town Hall
20 February – Canberra Royal Theatre
21-22 February – Palais Theatre (Melbourne)
25 February – AEC Theatre (Adelaide)
27-28 February – Riverside Theatre (Perth)
2 March – Costa Hall (Geelong)
3 March – Brisbane Convention Centre
4 March – Star Theatre (Gold Coast)

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