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Judith Lucy co-hosts, Wil Anderson was interviewed, Mat Kenneally featured, and the episode rocked! ’Nuff said.
Oh, actually, I should add that, as this isn’t Smash Hits printing song lyrics, I haven’t transcribed all of my laughter… 
Frank Zappa (?): The way I see it, Barry, this should be a very dynamite show.
This line is sampled from ‘Lumpy Gravy Pt 1’, from the Frank Zappa album Lumpy Gravy, and plays over the wow and flutter of bad radio reception sampled from ‘Reception’, from the Paul McCartney & wings album Back to the Egg. It is followed by the static and noise of a radio tuner being spun through various stations, and then gives way to ‘Holiday for Strings’ by Spike Jones and his City Slickers, until:
Deep ‘Announcer’ Voice: And now it’s time for Radio Ha Ha with Dom Romeo.
Soundbite: Herbet Lom laughs insanely… 
Dom Romeo: Hi, this Dom Romeo on another episode of Radio Ha Ha. It’s chockers, this episode: we’ve got some stand-up from Mat Kenneally; we’ve got two of the greatest stand-ups currently working in Australia, Judith Lucy and Wil Anderson, and one of them — Judith — happens to be in the studio with me, co-presenting the show.
Judith Lucy: Hello, Dom, I… well, I’m blushing. Thank you for that lovely introduction.
Dom Romeo: You’re more than welcome. Thanks for coming in.
Judith Lucy: Oh, my absolute pleasure.
Dom Romeo: Now look, we’re going to tuck into the show, talk about what you’re doing with your current show, I Failed!, but before we do, just to set things up, let’s have a bit of a listen to Mat Kenneally. He’s an up-and-coming Melbourne comic that we played a bit of last week; this is him talking about why he doesn’t trust non-drinkers…
Judith Lucy: Aah…
Dom Romeo: … live at the Mic in Hand hotel. 
Soundbite: Mat Kenneally delivers some clever and funny drinking material, followed by…
Station ID: Radio Ha Ha: just for laughs!
Dom Romeo: That was Mat Kenneally, on Radio Ha Ha, and I’m joined in the studio by guest host Judith Lucy. Judith…
Judith Lucy: HELLO!
Dom Romeo: Thanks once again for coming in.
Judith Lucy: It’s very good to be here. I really need to start saying more than that, but it is very good to be here.
Dom Romeo: Now, look, I played the drinking material up front, deliberately…
Judith Lucy: I don’t know why, Dom…
Dom Romeo: This is about the fourth time I’ve gotten gotten to interview you, and the first time it’s been face-to-face…
Judith Lucy: Isn’t it just so much better ‘in the flesh’?
Dom Romeo: Well it’s also…
Judith Lucy: Don’t you wonder how I get more and more beautiful?
Dom Romeo: You do, actually…
Judith Lucy: I know, I know.
Dom Romeo: And you get funnier and funnier…
Judith Lucy: That’s very kind…
Dom Romeo: I just wanted to say that those first three times were always over the phone, and they always began with you apologising for the sound of your voice because you were, quote: ‘up drinking all night’.
Judith Lucy: Yeah. You don’t know how often I get that. There’s a man called Simon who always interviews me in Sydney — he does a community radio thing — and he said, ‘yeah, it’s been a few years since I’ve interviewed you…’ — because I haven’t done a show for a few years, as we know — and he said, ‘the last time that I interviewed you, you let me interview you in your hotel room, and you were doing it in your bathrobe’. And I thought, ‘gee, that was classy!’ and I was thrilled to be able to do the interview this year fully clothed. And showered. So I feel like my life is slowly coming together.
Dom Romeo: Fantastic! I don’t mind if you don’t bare yourself on this radio show, because I know that you do in your material…
Judith Lucy: Oh well…
Dom Romeo: …on the stage. It seems like whenever bad things happen, you bounce back with a fantastic show. I almost feel bad knowing that you have to go through hell to come up with such… [great material].
Judith Lucy: Dom, I just like to turn my lemons into lemonade! I always say this, but it’s true: I don’t have any imagination, so the only path I have left open to me is exploiting my tragedies for cash, and that is essentially what I’ve been doing for years, as you know. And let’s be honest: getting sacked is a bit of a walk in the park compared to — you know — finding out I was adopted or my parents dying, so this is really easy pickings.
Dom Romeo: Okay, that’s fair enough, so the show’s called I Failed, and it’s about…
Judith Lucy: Excalamation mark!
Dom Romeo: Sorry. The show’s called I FAILED!…
Judith Lucy: That’s right, it’s meant to sound ‘up’ and slightly unhinged, which was how I felt when I was doing breakfast radio!
Dom Romeo: And it’s about losing a job on breakfast radio.
Judith Lucy: Yes.
Dom Romeo: How long did it take you before you went, ‘You know what? This is my next stand-up show’ ?
Judith Lucy: About day two!
Dom Romeo: laughs
Judith Lucy: Seriously! I really thought, ‘Oh my god! I’ve walked into this so naively; this is such a different world from the world I was expecting’. I think I just wasn’t quite prepared for just how high-pressure radio is in Sydney. I mean, I kept being told that I had been offered the ‘jewel in the crown’. Of course, by the time I had finished with it, Dom, it was — I don’t know — a bit of tin foil in a hat made out of egg cartons by a drunk person. In Melbourne, if I had screwed up the radio, it would have been written about in the ‘radio’ section, but it wouldn’t have been in the ‘news’ part of the paper, and it certainly wouldn’t have been in the ‘real estate’ part of the paper. So when things like that started to happen I just thought, ‘this is a disaster!’
I remember saying to Peter Helliar, just after we’d started doing drive, I said, ‘You know, I’ve already worked out what my next show is gonna be… it’s gonna be about that nightmarish year of breakfast radio and I’m gonna call it I Failed!. I just had no idea, at that moment, how much more pertinant that title would become. I didn’t know they were going to sack me at that point.
Dom Romeo: I want to play a bit from the show, but before I do, there was one thing you said there that I just need to backtrack: you were in the ‘real estate’ section of the paper?
Judith Lucy: Yeah, yeah.
Dom Romeo: How did that pertain to… [breakfast radio?]
Judith Lucy: Oh, because… I must admit, Sydney… I’ve never been asked the question more often ‘are you renting or are you buying?’ I was renting. They decided to write that up in the ‘real estate’ section. It‘s the line I mention from the show, where it actually says, ‘no wonder’ I’m only renting in Sydney, because the ratings are so bad.
Dom Romeo: That’s so bitchy!
Judith Lucy: You know, I thought, ‘What’s next?!’ Are they gonna write me up in the Good Living magazine, next to a critique of cheeses: “And that Judith Lucy’s ratings are appalling!” So yes, that took me by surprise!
Dom Romeo: (laughing) Alright. I’m sorry to laugh at your misfortune, but…
Judith Lucy: Hey! That’s what I want people to do!
Dom Romeo: …we’ve got a clip from the 2006 Melbourne International Comedy Festival Gala…
Judith Lucy: Mm hm…
Dom Romeo: …Where you showcase a bit of the material from the show.
Judith Lucy: That’s generally what you do, yeah.
Dom Romeo: Regular listeners might be familiar with this because we played it a few weeks ago, when you were nominated for the Helpmann Comedy Award. 
Judith Lucy: And isn’t that hilarious! Hah! I’m going to be appearing on a stage with Topol and Rhonda Birchmore!
Soundbite: Judith Lucy’s 2006 Melbourne International Comedy Festival Gala set
Station ID: Radio Ha Ha: It’s so funny, it should be against the law. Radio Ha Ha!
Judith Lucy: Aren’t I hilarious! Good god! How do I do it for the prize? 
Dom Romeo: I’ve got to say, thought, that’s a really solid — whatever it is — five minutes? One wonders how you would extend it to a full stage show. And yet, I don’t have to wonder; I was there. It’s a brilliant show.
Judith Lucy: Thanks Dom. That’s the killer about doing those Galas, actually. Most comedians hate doing them because you just have to go out there, and usually, you’re alotted four minutes, and so you’ve got to make the crowd laugh and hopefully go, ‘gee, I’d really like to see the rest of that show’ and so many of us have stories and routines that take a while to set up. But you really do: you have to go out there and go, bang, bang, bang, bang and then it’s over.
Dom Romeo: It’s almost pretty much the opening of the show, too.
Judith Lucy: Yes.
Dom Romeo: So I guess it works that way as well. I mean, if it grabs your audience as the opening of the show, then it’s gonna grab them in the four minutes that you’ve got.
Judith Lucy: That’s kind of the idea, yeah, but it’s not what I’d call a real pleasant experience. You’ll generally see most comedians throwing back a number of drinks after they’ve walk off stage at the Gala.
Dom Romeo: Well there’s always the big party after the Gala…
Judith Lucy: Yes there is, there is indeed. That’s always classy. I remember the year where — I won’t name the comedian — but he was very busy downstairs having sex with someone in front of the toilets and we all had to pass them as we went to the toilet.  You know, we were all probably going to the toilet to take cocaine — IT’S CRAZY!
Dom Romeo: How do you come back from that?! I hope it’s a special bonus on the Gala stuff that they’re gonna release any minute now… 
Judith Lucy: Well, yes; if only someone was filming backstage. That would really be interesting. There was also a photographer called Peter Milne, who I’m actually a very big fan of. He was the official photographer for the Comedy Festival for many years.  He’s moved to Brisbane now, I think. But there was one year, also at the Gala party, where he decided — because he likes taking candid photos of people, so he has a lot of photos of me drunk out of my mind… and at this particular Gala party, he decided — that he would just shove himself under a toilet door in the women’s toilets, and take a photo of a woman on the toilet who he’d heard crying. Big controversy!
Dom Romeo: That wasn’t you…?
Judith Lucy: No, that was not me! I actually don’t think it was a comedian — but I think it was someone involved with the Comedy Festival. He was given a bit of a smack on the wrist for that.
Dom Romeo: Is that why he’s no longer the official photographer… [for the Comedy Festival]?
Judith Lucy: No, no, no, no, no. He just moved on. But yeah! Backstage is probably a lot more interesting than what’s going on onstage.
Dom Romeo: Well, I think we also should move on, and that is such an aweful segue — I failed! — um…
Judith Lucy: (laughing) Hey, back off! That’s my line!
Dom Romeo: I’ve got an interview with Wil Anderson, who’s another…
Judith Lucy: My stablemate!
Dom Romeo: Yes, you share management and you also share a history of — well, let’s face it: giving up breakfast radio and concentrating on stand-up comedy.
Judith Lucy: Although, as I said to you off air, Wil was lucky enough to leave his post voluntarily. I was pushed. I’ve gone back to stand-up comedy because there’s simply nothing else I can do! And, you know, god knows — April 19 is the end of the tour and I will be unemployed, so look out for me at a sandwich bar near you!
Dom Romeo: laughs
Soundbite: An opening routine by Wil, about how hard it is to open a performance; he quotes the infamous heckle a chubbier Ross Noble once received, on his way across the stage to the mic, that necessitated his first words to be an excellent comeback  — and then Wil points out how the heckle would have differed, had it been uttered by an Aussie punter instead of an English one. Recorded at a book launch  at the Comedy Store
Dom Romeo: Wil, your comedy clearly has become edgier since you haven’t been doing radio; some people have described it in terms of being ‘like Rod Quantock, but for a younger demographic’. That you’re still getting the kids in, but actually giving them a message under all the comedy. What do you think of that?
Wil Anderson: I like to think that it’s like Rod Quantock, but that you’re talking to people who don‘t already agree with everything that you agree with. I love Rod, and I think Rod could work to any sort of audience, but you go to a Rod Quantock gig, and it’s preaching to the choir. Do you know what I mean? Everyone in there already agrees with everything you’re saying.
I would like to think that someone who voted for John Howard, and to be honest with you, listens to Shannon Noll’s music, could still come to my show and laugh for seventy minutes. I think all the jokes are there. Then I think there's that whole different layer to it, hopefully, that gives people an accessible way to get into things that they would normally tune out for.
Normally if you say the words ‘Australian Wheat Board’, people go, “it’s wheat; I’m bored”. What I try to do is get people interested in things, through comedy, that they wouldn't normally be interested in. And sometimes people go, “oh, you just did an ‘Amanda Vanstone’s fat’ joke”. Yeah well, sometimes you’ve got to do a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down, you know? Occasionally, if you’re talking about immigration or whatever, chuck in another joke to keep it going. I don’t see any shame in that. In fact, I think, as an entertainer, it’s your job to be entertaining, foremost.
I always like to think that good comedy is like a Kinder Surprise: you can just eat the chocolate, and you can enjoy the chocolate. But there’s a little toy in there if you want that as well. I think I’m getting better at that. I’ve always tried to do that, but now that I have the time to think about that, and I’m getting better at that. I’ve always tried to do that. But now that I have the time to think about it and I’m getting better as a comedian, I’m getting better at making that work together.
Soundbite: A routine that begins with the Corby girls Schapelle and Mercedes, in order to construct an argument as to why bogans should think twice about what they name their kids, likewise, recorded at the Comedy Store
Dom Romeo: What I love is that there are people who are far too young to vote for John Howard, who like Shannon Knoll, who come to your show and laugh.
Wil Anderson: Yeah, well, that‘s nice too. I was talking to Andrew Denton about this one day, and I was saying that comedy was most important to me, in opening my eyes to how the world worked, when I was about thirteen or fourteen. When I was growing up in the country, we had two TV stations: we had the ABC, and we had one of those composite TV stations — you know, where they take the worst stuff of every channel, and combine it into one channel. It’s like The Young Divas of television.
So I used to watch the ABC all the time, and I came from a very conservative up-bringing, a very narrow point-of-view. When my world got open to issues, it was through comedy. It was through watching shows like The Big Gig, and watching Andrew Denton do shows like The Money or the Gun and Blah, Blah, Blah and shows like that. And I said, “It‘s really important,” because I was thirteen or fourteen years old, and I was looking at how I would view the world — on social issues, on political issues… you know? And it was comedy that brought me to that. So I love that my comedy goes to people of that age. That‘s really important to me. In fact, I’m much more interesting in appealing to someone who’s starting to make their mind up about things, than people who have already made their mind up about things. So it‘s really exciting to me that the kids are there.
Soundbite: Wil spots a kid in the audience who turns out to be only ten, and warns him that he’ll be encountering new words — and presents him with one pertaining to anatomy. Recorded at the Mic in Hand.
Wil Anderson: Andrew Denton said it to me when I was doing Triple J, and I suppose it’s less so now, but his great quote was — and I love this; he goes — “you know, you probably talk to more young people in this country than anyone other than Delta Goodrem” and young people do, in some ways, come to my work. So if they’re coming to you, you have a responsibility to… firstly, to entertain them. I’ve always said this, Dom, and you know this. If you’re a comedian, number one, it’s got to be about the jokes. If you’re doing a seventy-minute show, it’s got to be seventy minutes of laughs. If you ever lose a joke to make a point, then you’re a public speaker, not a comedian.
Dom Romeo: One thing that happened this year that I really loved, I really enjoyed it playing out, was the whole Today Tonight ‘going you’ for your Shannon Noll material.
Wil Anderson: Yeah, it was nice, because I always wanted to be on Today Tonight and I thought I was going to have to start a dodgy washing machine repair business to get on there. I actually haven’t seen the report yet, but I do believe the words “when comedy goes to far” were used, which I enjoyed quite a great deal.
Wil Anderson: The joke in question — I did a joke about Shannon Noll’s dad’s name. And it was in the context of a routine I used to do about funny names, like Apple Martin and, you know, I had a girl at my school called Rachel Kuminmeyer and I had a whole routine about kids named after brand names that were all in last year’s show. And in that context, there was also a joke — someone had told me that Shannon Knoll’s father’s name was Noel — so I did a joke about ‘Noel Noll’; I thought it was a funny name. Turns out his name wasn’t Noel Noll; it’s Neal Noll, and we all know there’s nothing funny about that. But I’d been doing the joke for twelve months in my stage show, and I did it at the Melbourne Comedy Festival Gala. I had done this joke everywhere, you know what I mean? I’d even done it in front of Dicko, who’d said to me, “Shannon would think that was funny, blah-blah-blah…”
Wil Anderson: So I’ve done it at the Gala, which happened to coincide with the week that Shannon was releasing his single dedicated to his dad, and so it all blew up in the media. I should have got the name right; I’m always big on, if you’re going to talk about something, you should get it right. So I apologised and I said I should have got it right, I hoped the family weren’t offended by it and I kicked in some money to charity to show that I was genuine about that. But now he wants to punch me in the head. So now I have ten minutes in my show all about that. So it’s had the opposite effect. You know, he was on the TV saying he’d like to challenge me to a game of Scrabble just to get me in the same room, and I was like, “I’d like to play Shannon Knoll at Scrabble, seeing that none of the words he uses have vowels.” This is a man who named his album Lift. It’s lift music. Surely he has a sense of humour! What’s his next album going to be called? Mobile Phone Ring Tones?
I enjoyed it being played out in the media because it was kind of funny. I mean, I never intentionally go out there — and you’ve known me for years, Dom, you know this to be true — I never intentionally go out there to really hurt somebody. I like to rough things up, make some trouble, make sure people are still alive, keep it all fun-and-games, say something I should say — that sort of stuff. Because I think that’s fun. I think that’s what comedy should be about. But sometimes in comedy you know where the line is only when you look back over your shoulder and go, “Oops! It was back there. I should have stopped.” So, you know, I wouldn’t make any jokes about Shannon Knoll’s dead dad in the future; that was probably a mistake. But, will I make jokes about Shannon Knoll? Bloody oath I will!
Dom Romeo: Wil, thank you very much.
Wil Anderson: No worries, Dom, always a pleasure.
Station ID: You won’t die laughing, but you might mess your pants! Radio Ha Ha.
Dom Romeo: And that was Wil Anderson, who is also currently touring a show. So, we’ve got a lot of choice in Sydney, we can either go and see Judith Lucy in I FAILED exclamation mark, or Wil Anderson in Wil Communication
Judith Lucy: Or both!
Dom Romeo: Definitely both! Now, Judith, a question I’ve got for you: someone in a Sunday paper recently likened your style to, of all people, Dame Edna.
Judith Lucy: I’ve had that before.
Dom Romeo: Tell me: can you see that? What do you think of that?
Judith Lucy: I really can only put it down to the fact that, I guess, one could argue that there is a little bit of sarcasm in both of us. But I think a lot of it’s that I have a fairly nasal voice, and when Barry Humphries is Dame Edna, there’s a bit of a nasal thing going on there as well. I mean, you know, it’s weird, because on the one hand it’s incredibly flattering because Dame Edna is one of the funniest things that’s come out of this country ever, but on the other hand, it’s a man dressed up as a woman, and I actually am a woman. So that comparison is a little peculiar on that level.
Dom Romeo: I think, maybe, there’s a bit of a lilt in the voice…
Judith Lucy: Yeah…
Dom Romeo: … The music of your delivery…
Judith Lucy: There’s something about the delivery, yeah.
Dom Romeo: … if I can dress it up in as nice a term as I can…
Judith Lucy: Thank you Dom.
Dom Romeo: … Digging myself out of this hole, desperately!
Judith Lucy laughing: Move on!
Dom Romeo: Well, Judith, we both have to now; it’s the end of the episode.
Judith Lucy: Damn! That was fast.
Dom Romeo: How was this radio experience for you?
Judith Lucy: Well, you know, you’re not in a position to be able to sack me, Dom, so really pretty positive. And we didn’t have to play any Nickelback, so it’s a win-win…
Dom Romeo: Aah, so WE SUCCEEDED!
Judith Lucy: Exactly!
Dom Romeo: Yay! Thanks Jude.
Judith Lucy: Thanks Dom.
Soundbite: Last segment of ‘Holiday for Strings’ by Spike Jones and His City Slickers.
Soundbite: If you’d like more free information and entertainment podcasts, log onto www.freedigitalcontent.com. That’s www.freedigitalcontent.com.
- This is a reference to the fact that whenever Smash Hits used to publish song lyrics, they’d transcribe every skerrick of onomatopoeia, every scatted syllable, every fleeting phoneme (or, to quote Karen Carpenter, “every sha-la-la-la, every whoah-oh whoah-oh…”). I haven’t gone quite to that length.
- …as Chief Inspector Dreyfus in Return of the Pink Panther (1975). Chief Inspector Dreyfus has found out that, having finally been able to dismiss Inspector Clouseau, he has just been forced to reinstate him.
- Ie live at the Mic in Hand, at the Friend in Hand Hotel, Glebe. Only one bit of the Wil Anderson material that plays later was recorded at the Mic in Hand, the rest comes from the Comedy Store.
- In Episode 32, which also featured the other nominees for the inaugural Helpmann Award for Comedy: Lano & Woodley, The Umbilical Brothers and Akmal Saleh.
- A reference to the actual Helpmann Awards, I realised afterwards, and therefore, a missed opportunity; it could have been interesting to continue discussing this.
- I might even know who that comedian was. That is to say, I remember at one Gala after-party — when the celebrations were still held at Melbourne’s HiFi Bar — a particular comedian so desperately putting the hard word on the beauteous chick™ that, as I made my way to the loo, intent on not making eye contact, the comic stopped me in order to demand I put in a good word for him then and there — as if this critic’s opinion could help him receive that sort of audience love. It’s hard enough just convincing the public-at-large that they ought to like comedy, let alone love comics. Oh, and then there was the year when one comic decided that… well, let’s leave this here, shall we, at least until it’s time to write a new version of Peter Baskind’s Easy Rider, Raging Bull — about the Australian comedy scene! (Ie, an Aussie version of Sunshine on Putty!)
- According to the Melbourne International Comedy Festival website, the Melbourne Comedy Festival Best of The Gala Collection DVD — a three disc box set highlighting the 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006 Comedy Festival Galas — will be out in time for Father’s Day 2006. Bonus features depicting comics in various degrees of backstage intimacy is unlikely.
- Milne, it turns out, was in fact the very first official photographer of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, and is responsible for one of my favourite photographs of comedians, ever — from that very first Festival that was launched by Sir Les Patterson and Peter Cook. Sigh.
- Ross Noble once revealed in conversation that he was in fact using a comeback by another portly comic, Phil Jupitus.
- The book was Have You Heard The One About…, compiled by Dom Romeo!