Interview with Tom Gleeson

Tom Gleeson’s at the Brunswick Picture House

Best In Show

Gold Logie winning Tom Gleeson is truly one of the smartest of the southern comedians – he has enjoyed his covid lockdown in Byron Bay. Ironically he had a go at us on his Go Away with The Weekly – but here he is! (It’s a fabulously funny segment btw).

‘The idea in Getaway was to focus on three good things about a place, so I came up with Go Away and talk about three particularly bad things, and recommend you never come here.’

It’s probably the best thing a celeb has done for locals in years! And Byron, while up itself one moment, is also up for the laugh… unlike some tourist towns.

‘When I was doing it around Byron I’d tell them I was doing a travel show and I was going to tear Byron Bay to shreds, and most people, they said, “Fair enough there’s a lot to make fun of” but when I did Cairns, it felt like the whole town turned on me!’ says Tom.

‘It’s weird to read headlines in the Cairns Post that say “Tom Gleeson is an unfunny drongo” and then to read quotes from the mayor who is upset because I pissed in the pool in the esplanade. It’s a TV show – I squeezed water from a bottle into the pool. It got closed down for a once a year refurbishment [after that] and everyone thought [it was because] I had pissed in the pool! The mayor had to squash the rumour.’

Gleeson has been in Byron since August, and aside from getting a tattoo, a colonic and changing his name, he’s loving it.

‘I have been coming here for 20 years for holidays, and the longest in the past was two weeks, not being here for a long time, like now, I realise that it’s smaller than I thought: in a two week window the possibilities seem endless.

‘The main reason I came here was because it was the furthest north I could get.

‘The best part has been avoiding the Vic winter and the second wave of the pandemic. We got the kids in a local school, the beaches, the weather – are all fantastic – the hardest for me is knowing my friends are going through misery in Victoria. Now the numbers are down, and I didn’t realise how much it was getting to me, I can feel the weight come off my shoulders – I hear them saying, “Oh dear, it must be so difficult living with the guilt”.’

You don’t move to Byron without bumping mindsets!

‘Last night I had a party at my house and we had a couple over and they were telling me, at length, about the virtues of Ayahuasca – I enjoyed the conversation, as it was clear they got something out of it, you would never get that in country Victoria, but I don’t fancy the idea of taking it myself – I quite enjoy reality. Between Netflix, going to the beach, unpacking the dishwasher and putting the kids to bed, I can’t see where to do it.’

Tom Gleeson brings his one-man show Lighten Up to the Brunswick Picture House – back where it all started.

‘I won best comedy show at the Adelaide Fringe and then the pandemic started. It’s the same show, but it is a different show already. One of the themes was moving on from the horrible summer we’d had, and a routine about having too much free time – and that has become more than true! If anything the show has gained more relevance than it had before – kind of spooky!’

Tom Gleeson presents Lighten Up at the Bruns Picture House 9–13 Nov at 7pm.

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