Tom W Clarke – Bringing Stories Of His Lap Around The Country To Melbourne

Tom W Clarke
Our eclectic team of writers from around Australia – and a couple beyond – with decades of combined experience and interest in all fields.

Maybe it's time for a getaway.

For comedian Tom W Clarke, there came a time when it felt correct to pack everything up and hit the road with his wife and their son – so they acted on this feeling and never looked back.

In 'Bruce: Misadventures From A Lap Around Australia', Tom takes inspiration from this whirlwind trip, where they jammed into a campervan for a year of silliness.

The show features stories and characters from their extraordinary lap.

Tom will share some of his travel anecdotes with Melbourn International Comedy Festival (MICF) audiences. The show has already had a successful run in Adelaide, and Tom's particularly keen to hit the Melbourne stage as it's a place he once called home for years, before moving to Wollongong.

We learn more about Tom's journey, and the show he'll be presenting in his return to Melbourne.

This show has an interesting premise. For those unaware, what will you be covering in the show?
At the start of 2023, my wife and I packed up our life in Melbourne, threw our four-year-old son into a campervan and took off around Australia for the year. This show is inspired by our stories from that adventure – the characters we met, the things we saw, the animals we were attacked by. . . You know, classic Australia stuff.

How would you describe your comedy style?
The two funniest things in the world are taking silly things very seriously and treating serious things ridiculously. I mix and match between those, with a few high kicks in there for good measure.

Seems like you have lots of stories to tell. Why did you decide to take such a big trip?
We had this un-ignorable urge telling us that we needed to shake things up. It’s so easy to get on a path in life and wonder whether you’ll ever be able to get off it, or how you even got there at all. Life can be so serious. We just wanted to go out and find some silliness and freedom. To hike and swim and play and never check the clock.

What’s something that surprised you the most on this trip?
How much I loved the van life. I didn’t know how I’d handle only showering every few days, or sleeping in a sandy bed in the back of a van, or emptying the portaloo. I thought the van was just a means to an end, to move us around and give us a roof. But I loved it (okay, except the portaloo thing).

What’s a lesson you learned on the trip, that you’ll keep with you?
Honestly, and I know it sounds so wanky, but you are a different person after a trip like this. We are really just trying to keep from falling back into old habits – working too much, being in front of a screen all the time, forgetting to have fun.

What are you most looking forward to about sharing your story?
This is my most personal comedy show, and I’m really excited to share it with people. It’s funny, and silly, and reflective, and I hope it inspires people to take a look around at their life and do what they want to do, instead of what they think they’re meant to be doing.

You actually lived in Melbourne for quite some time prior to your trip. What do you love most about this city?
Melbourne has a creative buzz, a gravity that pulls like-minded people into its weird, colourful orbit. When we first moved to Melbourne, we were struck by how friendly people were on the tram, how passionate people were about music and sport and food, how much people care about everything. It's a fantastic city to be a part of – if only it had a real beach!

You’ve been known to, quote, 'shout about the superiority of instant coffee'. What’s so good about it, and is it even better than a Melbourne coffee?!
I drink a lot of coffee (which is its own separate issue), and instant coffee is both delicious and cheap, which is the best combination of things. The value proposition is unmatched. Having now moved away, I can say that Melbourne coffee is a bit overrated – without the risk of a brick going through my apartment window.

Your MICF dates serve as a bit of a 'return' after having moved to Wollongong. What are you most looking forward to about playing as part of this festival?
The city absolutely brims during the Melbourne International Comedy Festival – it's bubbling and exciting and a little chaotic. Always running around to catch the next show, flying around the city on trams, trying to guess which up-and-comer unexpectedly makes you wet your pants (it'll happen, you just don't know when!).

One piece of advice for someone wanting to pack it all up and hit the road?
Don’t plan it too much – book the major national parks, like Cape Le Grand and Cape Range in WA, and definitely think about school holidays – but for the most part, let it come to you. Because you will find places where you just want to stay forever, and you’ll also find places where you feel like you’ll get stabbed if you don’t drive on immediately.

Describe your show in four words.
Drove far, got stories.

Tom W Clarke plays Whisky And Alement (Melbourne International Comedy Festival) from 3-21 April.

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