Hey Jeff. Are there any question you hate being asked in interviews?
Oooh, gosh. Try them! Haha. You don’t hate any really, any question is valid. But some you’ve heard more than others and some are really difficult to answer, like “what can the audience expect?”. It’s hard to describe what you do…. Why do they need to know what to expect? Who wants to know what tricks a magician is going to do, you know? They should just expect me being funny, I hope. Can you imagine asking Tommy Cooper what to expect, and you’d think, “I’m not going to that, it’s rubbish!”
You’ve been to Australia many times.
Do you think they have a different sense of humour down here?
No. Well obviously there will be some differences, but they’re surprisingly similar. But the main job as a comedian is to connect, for the whole time that you’re on stage. Well obviously you need material, but the real essence of who you are is more important than what you’re saying. Sometimes, me included, comics get wrapped up in material and routines and forget that actually people are there to see a human being, who happens to say funny things. That’s the long answer and I suppose the short answer is, you have to change the word “duvet” to “doona”.
Have you seen much of the country?
I’ve probably seen more than 99 per cent of Australians have – as backpackers have too. It’ll be the opposite back in London, say. On this Comedy Roadshow, I’ve played in Cairns and all the way down; Townsville, Toowoomba, Mount Isa, Alice Springs…
Wow. What’s Mount Isa like?
It’s a big mining town. Lots of engineers, lots of miners, lots of bikies, they like a good drink during the show and in that way they’re very similar to British audiences. They were boisterous, up for it and they were on your side. The Australian comics were going, “umm, this is a bit scary”. But to me it felt familiar: people tanked up, walking in with six pints of beer. It felt like a proper British comedy club. Very nice people. I’ve also played Port Hedland and that’s basically just a port covered in red dust. It’s really weird. It’s a bit fucking desolate.
Any favourite spots?
Broken Hill is nice.
I love the Red Centre, I love Uluru, Cairns is a great place. Snorkelling in the morning and doing a sold out gig in the Town Hall in the evening is one of the highlights of my career. Oh, and Sydney!
I like Sydney. I have to whisper it, because I’m in Melbourne.
You originally earned a reputation as a relationship comic. Were you ever worried about being typecast?
Yeah. And I was starting to bore myself. When I started out no one was doing relationship jokes. It was great. Other comics were so PC, no one was doing jokes about girlfriends. I told some and it brought the house down. It felt comfortable; I was brought up with four sisters and it seemed to be the thing I loved talking about. It helped me get known, but I started to think it was becoming a bit passé – I wrote three books on it so I had pretty much nailed it.
I wanted to see if I could do something else. Having said that, I still do a good wife joke.
What’s your best ever heckle?
Heckles aren’t generally very interesting. They’re usually just “fuck off” or “get on with it”. There aren’t many Oscar Wildes sitting quietly in the audience. There was this one: I was saying how two out of three marriages in Britain end in divorce and someone shouted out “the other one ends in murder!”. It got this amazing cheer and I went, “I’m having that.”
Do you get tired of taxi drivers and hairdressers telling you their favourite jokes? Ever pretend you’re a teacher?
I do lie, yeah. It’s easier. It depends really. Sometimes I can get away with it. You have to write it on your customs entry card, which is a bit annoying. I generally say I’m a writer and leave it at that. But if you’re talking to fans you’ve got all the time in the world for them, because they’re the people who are buying your stuff.
Are you frightened that one day you’ll run out of good jokes?
Yeah. Definitely. And you get frightened that people won’t want to listen to you anymore. The good thing about stand-up comics is they generally get a much longer career than pop stars. You know, your Benny Hills and Les Dawsons had 40-year careers. I’m 20 years in, so I’ve got 20 left.
And lastly Jeff, what can the audience expect from your show?
Jeff Green is playing the Comedy Store Sydney from Tuesday 2 to Saturday 6 June; info and tix (from $15) at comedystore.com.au
May 28th, 2009