Interview by Austin Frape
To begin with, what were your influences that got you involved in comedy?
I grew up watching Jim Carrey movies and loved the voices and the elasticised face would make. In primary school, I’d always wanted to make jokes and be funny and perform. When I was 8 years old, my teacher said to me, “If you behave during the week and do the right thing in the classroom, on Friday afternoon, I’ll let you perform in front of the class.” I lived for that each week and would think about what I wanted to do on that Friday. I’d make up little skits or sketches and perform them to the class, and my mate would perform with me. I was asked by my friend if I was going to be a comedian and I just went, “Yup”.
What was it like being a teacher to becoming a stand up comedian? Did your students know about your night job and did that affect your performance?
My job as a teacher was what made me start stand up much later than what I would’ve liked. I wrote my first hour and I got to perform at the Adelaide Fringe in 2012 while I was studying at uni. I graduated from uni in that same year, but I still loved writing that hour and continued performing at the Fringe each year, and eventually at the Melbourne Comedy Festival. Being a supply teacher was a great way to earn a decent income while travelling and doing comedy, but it wasn’t what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
My students did know about my comedy — not all of them — but it was definitely something that would be thrown around sometimes. I taught Year Sevens, and it ended up affecting my stand up because I was conscious their parents might come to my shows, which did happen sometimes (laughs). I was stuck in a conundrum because during the day, I was professional and was helping to shape the minds of the next generation. By night however, I was a stand up comedian which is a more adult role that takes place in an unpredictable environment.
Describe the process of what type of jokes you want to include in your shows like Doubting Thomas; do you think it’s easier to find humour from life experiences or is it easier to plan punch lines/improvise from made up scenarios?
I’m a story telling comedian, so my life experiences become my stand up. I’m not a one liner guy or have ever been able to write like that. For me, I’ll have an idea in my head where I think about a funny story and write about that. In this show for example, I talk about leaving religion, transitioning to the UK, what I miss in Adelaide, how I got really ill last year while being in the UK. So I’ve taken all these stories over the past three years and have kind of formed them together as one big story for this hour. I like the idea of having an overarching message in the show so it all ties together.
Finally, what was it like making Freddy Got Fingered?
(Laughs) You know, funnily enough, I did actually get to meet Tom Green at my first hour at the Fringe in 2012. Of course, the one year I was doing my first show, Tom Green decides to perform at the Adelaide Fringe for the first time. So I was like, “Thank Christ I didn’t go by Tom Green for my show otherwise people probably would’ve bought the wrong tickets” (laughs). I ended up meeting him at the Rhino Room and he was super lovely. He actually asked me to come into his show at the Arts Theatre and got me to sit in his audience of 600 people, jump out halfway through the set and start heckling him, telling him that I was the REAL Tom Green. We had like a improv screaming match in front of an incredibly confused audience (laughs). But then he got me to stand up on stage and he introduced me as the local Tom Green and to come to my show.
He didn’t have to do that. But he did and was super nice about it. But to answer your question, it was great directing that weird-ass movie (laughs).
Thomas’ show DOUBTING THOMAS will be playing from the 6th till the 17th of March at the Rhino Room in the Raj House. You can book tickets to see his show here: https://adelaidefringe.com.au/fringetix/thomas-green-doubting-thomas-af2018