We all have parts of our job we don’t like doing and for me, that bit is giving interviews about being a comedian.
I hate giving these interviews more than I hate having to listen to Alan Jones while I’m stuck in a taxi in Sydney; more than I hate hearing politicians use the phrase ‘fair dinkum’; more than I hate the person who convinced me that snorting tequila would be hilarious. (It wasn’t, it hurt, don’t do it.)
The questions are more often than not the same ones I’ve been asked a thousand times before, the interviewer has often not done any research at all and when the final thing is printed, my jokes have been printed as factual statements. (For the record: that time I said my career started when I was working as a weather girl on Latvia’s only English-speaking television station, I was joking.)
That being said, I know if a producer has forked out for my show or tour or to publish my book then I am quite properly obliged to help sell it. I know it’s a small price to pay for a job I love doing.
But if I lived in a world where I could, just once, be a total arsehole and no-one would get hurt or think badly of me or sue me for mental anguish, I’d behave very badly indeed.
Below is a list of the most common questions I’ve been asked in the nearly twenty years I’ve worked as a comedian.
None of them are one-off questions. (So, if you’re a journalist reading this and thinking I’m talking about you, I’m not.
These questions have been asked so many times that I honestly can’t remember who said what.)
Ok, here we go…
What’s it like being a female comedian?
Answer I give: I don’t know, I’ve never been a male one.
Answer I’d like to give: Awful. I wish I hadn’t cut my dick off. Seriously, that’s your opening question? Why can’t I just be a performer? Why does my gender always have to come into it? Do you ask Wil Anderson what it’s like to be a male comedian? Do you ask other men what it’s like to be a male doctor or a male male? Or course not, you’d sound like an idiot.
(Ok, I did give that answer once. I was called ‘nasty’ in the subsequent article. Yeah!)
What do you do if someone comes up to you in the supermarket when you’re buying tampons?
Answer I give: I buy the tampons. (I then smile tightly to indicate the question is answered and we’re moving on.)
Answer I’d like to give: Woah! Enough with the hard-hitting questions, Kerry O’Brien! Honestly, did you just say that out loud? Firstly, who on god’s green earth has ever come up to someone when they’re buying tampons for a bit of a chat? And secondly, what if they did? Where is the shame in that? I’m buying them, not inserting them, you idiot.
Do you get paid to be a comedian?
Answer I give: Pardon? (And then I just keep saying pardon until the journalist gets confused and moves to the next question.)
Answer I’d like to give: Oh no, of course not. I’ve been working for twenty years for free because, you know, who’d pay me to perform? We all do it as a hobby and live off air and happiness the rest of the time. Did you know that Rove McManus agreed to hosting Rove Live because he’d lost interest in lead lighting? True! And Dave Hughes who has been working on radio for over ten years only does it because he likes stealing stationary from other people’s desks. And as we all know, comedians are super needy people who are desperate for attention. It’s never occurred to any of us that we should get paid! Hey, would it be okay if I grabbed you by the back of the head and slammed your face into this table?
Is comedy an ‘art’?
Answer I give: Yes, comedy is a type of highly skilled performance. I understand some people think it’s just standing onstage and talking, but it’s a bit more complicated than that. Perhaps people get confused and think comedy is not a legitimate art form because it seems so natural.
Answer I’d like to give: When you did the air quotes finger-thing around the word ‘art’ I knew I was in the presence of a genius. Let me guess: you normally write for the gardening section of your newspaper, but when a comedy festival comes around, you get some free tickets to a show, get drunk and then write a hateful review that proves you’re a complete idiot with absolutely no understanding of the craft. Do you put air quotes around the word ‘wanker’ when you talk about yourself? Because that would be hilarious!
Tell us a joke!
Answer I give: Oh, I don’t really do ‘joke’ jokes, I tell stories and it’s difficult to put those on the page.
Answer I’d like to give: No, because you’ll screw it up when you write it down and I’ll look like the dick, not you.
Are all comedians depressed?
Answer I give: I’m sure there are some comedians who suffer from depression, it’s a pretty common illness.
Answer I’d like to give: Do you mean right now as I’m having to respond to this ‘tears of the clown’ crap for the hundredth time? If that’s what you mean, then yes—yes I am suffering from an acute attack of depression that will probably clear up as soon as this interview is finished. Do you mind if I distract myself for a while by sticking a fork in my eye?
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Answer I give: Nope, we’re all good!
Answer I’d like to give: I’ve been watching you shower every morning for the past six weeks.
Actually, I think I might use that one from now on.
MORE STORIES BY CORINNE GRANT
*Corinne Grant is a stand-up comedian, MC, presenter, writer and broadcaster and has performed both nationally and internationally. In addition to her years on Rove Live and The Glasshouse, she has appeared on everything from Spicks and Specks to Dancing With The Stars to Good News Week. She has co-hosted successful national radio shows, performed countless solo live shows and appeared everywhere from the Sydney Opera House to the Kalgoorlie Arts Centre. Corinne’s first book, Lessons In Letting Go: Confessions of a Hoarder (Allen and Unwin) was released in September 2010 and went into reprint just months after its release.