Award-winning British comedian Jeff Green has become a well-known face and voice on Australian TV and radio since arriving for his first Melbourne International Comedy Festival performance here in 1996.
Amongst his many Australian TV credits are Spicks and Specks (ABC), Good News Week (TEN), The Glass House (ABC), World Comedy Tour (The Comedy Channel) and The Squiz (SBS), as well as numerous appearances on the Melbourne Comedy Festival Gala (TEN).
Jeff is also a regular radio contributor on Hughsey and Kate (Nova), The Conversation Hour (ABC), 3AW, Vega and Comedy Bites (ABC). Since quitting the heady world of chemical engineering to follow a hunch that he had more to offer show business than industrial gases distribution, Jeff has performed at theatres, events and festivals all over the world.
Now an Australian resident (he has an Australian wife: some have accused him of social climbing but he disputes that), Jeff brings more than 20 years of experience to every show. He is a fast-on-his-feet thinker, intelligent warm and engaging.
I’m more focused on each show than I was in the glorious amateur days of the late 80s – when it was all just a huge adventure with no map as to where the comedy lark might lead.
It’s more professional now and the new comics are frighteningly talented – but I still manage to keep up with them and the twinkle is still there.
Is it hard not to get jaded or are you the eternal optimist?
When you work in a job that only offers work a few months in advance it’s essential to be optimistic!
I’ve had my down moments but they are just moments; I love this job.I can think of no other way of making a living that is as much fun. Here’s to the next 27 years!
Do you think comedians are inherently negative people? Do you have to be negative to be funny?
You have to challenge the perceived view, that’s all. But it does help to be a certified whinger with a deadly turn of phrase.
What are the issues that boil your kettle at the moment?
My show at MICF this year was about my quest for happiness – I found that confronting and stripping away who I really was – a 50-year-old guy with a bunion, an irrational fear of forgetting to put the bins out, who most nights gets undressed by the light of his iPhone, was a liberating way to find new comedy in my circumstances that an audience can connect with.
What annoys your wife most about you?
It used to be that I could lie in while she had to work, but now I think it’s that I get clapped at work and as a kinder teacher she doesn’t. I explain it’s merely a showbiz tradition but she’s not listening.
Are you able to truly objectively look at yourself? Do you think that helps in comedy?
It does help in comedy but I’m as guilty as the next person in beguiling myself.
I’ve never pretended a gig went well when it didn’t though, which helped me get better when others were using their energy blaming the audience, the PA, the MC etc. I would always say to myself: would Billy Connolly have died in that situation? No. Then it’s your fault – get better and shut up.
How was the Melbourne Comedy Festival run for you?
Great numbers. I loved my show, which explored other areas for me. As MICF is in my home city and my kids are still young, seven and nine, I never partied with the other acts or saw any other shows – which sucked, but hey.
What are you passionate about?
New talent. I mentor some younger comics, which is a lot of fun. My family of course, hot yoga(!), this beautiful sundried country called Australia – I’m an Austrophile, have been since I set foot here in 1996. The environment and the country we’ll pass on the next generations.
I’m passionate about the future and living. I may be 50 with a bunion but I feel 18.
What’s next, Mr Green?
The UK in July, Edinburgh Festival, then more shows back in Australia… but first off it’s Sunday night and that means I must put the bins out.
Jeff Green, an international act performing insightful brilliant comedy. You won’t be able to resist him. And guess what: he’s at the Big Gig at the Ballina RSL, free! 8pm on Thursday with Paul McMahon as support and Mandy Nolan as MC.