Weird, bitter man still very angry with the world puts on a Fringe show
On Dit magazine speaks to the enemy, former founding editor of (the shortly lived) Spur Magazine.
James McCann is an angry man. He’s also a comedian and a graduate of the University of Adelaide. Spending a lot of his time rabble-rousing, music making and freelance writing, McCann has worked at Pedestrian tv, Rip It Up, as a NewsCorp columnist and various short stints in commercial radio.
Like most comedians, he has kicked off the year with a Fringe show. In the past, he’s put on shows with titles like “The Sound of Nazis” and “Wolf Creek the Musical”. This year, he is keeping up with the dark humour theme with his show Deplorable.
The show’s concept is political incorrectness and how Political Correctness has marred one’s ability to think freely, critically, independently. It will tie in commentary on recent political events that shook the world.
“I love Donald Trump. He is a genius and exciting. I also love Kanye West. They are smarter than us. And if you look down on them just consider for a moment that they know some shit that you don’t.”
McCann’s jokes are more of an acquired taste than a palate pleaser, often choosing to hone in on his own experiences with “political correctness GONE MAD” and exploring them in ways that might differ from the norm. Eliciting responses (usually laughter) has become a part of his agenda and personal branding. It’s really tempting to categorise McCann into the alt-right fuccboi category. He’s even got the fuccboi ‘fade’ haircut.
“Maybe PC culture is good because people are a bit lame and it’s easier to not offend than to make an offensive comment.” He says with an air of conviction. McCann is quite blase about the imminent backlash for speaking on controversial topics have long been a passion of his. Most of this stems from the roots of his tertiary education.
“I went to the O’week media lecture and walked out because it was just so stupid.”
McCann graduated with a BA in classics and creative writing. When asked what he gained from his time at university, James is quick and adamant in his reply.
“A shitty creative writing minor. The classics department are wonderful but other than that, the uni culture was dead and I was depressed. I enrolled in honours but dropped out and spent the year on Centrelink benefits writing long essays about whatever I wanted for my vicious magazine that was anti-On Dit. I was a bitter weird man. I am still really angry with the world”.
According to McCann, universities were once the battleground of new ideas, exploration of unconventional topics and heated debates over everything and nothing. It’s the reason why he wanted to attend in the first place. But over the years, there have been changes which quickly dismiss his initial perceptions.“The university culture on campus was on its deathbed when I was there and all the signs that I keep seeing, it’s only getting worst”
This is what concerns McCann most. Being around new people and writing angry essays ended up being more practical for his real life ambitions than the formal education he received. Touching on another nerve is the university’s decision to sell off the Rhino Room; a community which he has used to pedal his comedy career.
“I don’t think the physical space is important. The next Rhino Room will find a new place and it will be better and bigger, hopefully. There are heaps of reasons why this one in particular was successful; there are plenty of nooks and crannies and it is comforting for performers.”
McCann has been part of the Adelaide Comedy scene for a while now, collecting awards for Adelaide Comedy Newcomer in 2009, SA Raw Comic of the year in 2010.
Because of all this, he is now somewhat a successful adult, juggling work in the fickle creative industry which has both high and low moments. Perks include getting paid for performing and writing.
Having written for some of the country’s largest youth-orientated news and entertainment websites, McCann has seen first hand how changing university culture has impacted wider community. “I’ve had to take the word “Hansard” out of political articles because the reader didn’t understand it”, he recounts. “But throw the world “shit” in there to appeal [to the readers] and get clicks. And then people don’t take you seriously because you’ve infantilise the story.”
“This is the horror, you reduced the standards because no one wants to read or do the work. Not even the dropkicks. We talk about fake news, but we should really talk about dumb news.”
When asked if he regrets his education and the four years spent at university, his reply was the most salient point he had made during the 45 minute interview.
“No. Absolutely not. University puts you into context with those who control the culture. You get to read what you want to read, do what you like. And most importantly, you meet an unbelievable number of fuckheads”
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Deplorable is running now until the 4th March!
Where: Drink, Eat, Work (DEW) Cafe, 101 Hindley St, Adelaide, 5000.