ABC TV star and self-proclaimed musical theatre nerd Sammy J has spent a decade and a half steadily accumulating a loyal fan base that is as diverse as his expansive body of work.
With his new live variety show, ‘Major Party’, the stand-up comedian, novelist, sitcom actor and children’s show satirist will unify the factions by delivering a surplus of laughs.
In the rich Australian sketch comedy landscape, there has always been a preponderance of former law students, including Shaun Micallef and the team behind 'The Late Show', 'Frontline' and 'The Panel'. This pattern has caused many to ask, what is it about studying law that leads students to comedy? For Sammy J, though, it was comedy that drew him to the Melbourne University Law School.
“All my heroes had studied law and done the sketch comedy law review. That was the reason that I did it. It was kind of like the snake eating its own tail; I was furthering that myth by being part of it. Then I did the sketch comedy law review for two years and then I quit. So I’m kind of like the bad example, the mutation of that story.”
Although Sammy managed to escape life inside the pinstripe prison, where his day would have been divided into billable units, he has still worked as hard as a corporate lawyer, producing a staggering output of creative content in his 15 years in the entertainment industry.
While he has graced stages and screens around the globe as part of award-winning comedic duo, Sammy J and Randy, Sammy has achieved the biggest spike in his audience numbers since the debut of the 'Play School' spoof, ‘Playground Politics’ on the ABC in 2016.
A recent episode written in response to the Christchurch terrorist attacks went viral, amassing over 2.5 million views at last count. Sammy explains the artistic motivation behind the video that resonated so strongly with social media users worldwide.
“That episode was a particularly big deal for me, because there’s nothing funnier than a comedian trying to be serious usually.”
“My job’s to make fun of the news each week and there was no way to make anything funny about that particular bit of news.”
“We thought why don’t we just design this to try to explain this to kids, obviously with an adult audience in mind, but the big irony is that then got shared so much because people believed it was a kids show.”
‘Major Party’ will feature sketches featuring characters from ABC TV segments, such as 'Playground Politics', 'National Yoga', and 'Government Coach', but also songs and stand-up sections that will appeal to his long-term fan base. Sammy explains the challenges of combining the two.
“The point of this show is to bring those audiences together and see if I can create a show that has a little bit of everything in it really, that’s edgy enough for the young ones and smart enough for the older ones and with my sense of humour running throughout the whole thing.”
While Randy is not coming along for the ride this time, he has no hard feelings about Sammy going it alone, as Sammy explains.
“He and I have an open-marriage, as we call it, we’re allowed to see other audiences along the way.”
“We’re pretty lucky that we don’t feel we have to work together because we’ve seen enough duos who have been forced together and have to break up. We like to keep it real, mix it up and come together when the time is right.”
Sammy J Tour Dates
6 June – Newcastle City Hall 7 June – The Concourse Theatre (Sydney) 8 June – Factory Theatre (Sydney) 14 June – Theatre Royal (Hobart) 15 June – Canberra Theatre Centre 28-29 June – Athenaeum Theatre (Melbourne) 11-12 July – Royalty Theatre (Adelaide) 13 July – Regal Theatre (Perth) 19-20 July – Brisbane Powerhouse