Brett Blake is the comic mind behind Bogan Genius, coming to FRINGE WORLD in January, 2019. He sat down with TOM ROBINSON to talk about his new comedy show, why it’s an underdog story, surviving school with learning difficulties, and the moments in life that create pure comedy. You can catch Bogan Genius at The Laugh Resort in The Shoe Bar & Cafe, Yagan Square from January 18 to January 27.
Who is Brett Blake? Could you tell us about yourself?
Aw, fuckin’ hell, I’m just a dude from the suburbs. I’m from Forestfield in Perth, so not the fanciest of people in the world, but I’d like to think a good bloke.
You’re coming to Perth soon with your show Bogan Genius; what is a Bogan Genius?
Obviously I’m a bit of a bogan, you’ve seen the mullet. The show is about how I struggled in primary school. I’ve got a few learning difficulties — I’ve got ADHD and Dyslexia — and for years in primary school I was written off as dumb and stupid, but by the time I got to high school, we did an IQ test and they found I was three points off genius; so it’s kind of the underdog story. I had to sit an exam and I thought the exam was going to determine whether I repeat a year or go into high school. So I cheated on that exam, off the person sitting next to me, who happened to be really smart, and that’s what got me into the advanced classes in high school and that’s why they ended up testing my IQ.
The Fringe Festival website says you were in classes for ‘kids that can’t read good’, so can we expect similar educational themes?
Yeah so it’s a comedy show at the end of the day. It’s got an underlying theme of me living with ADHD and dyslexia, but it’s also childhood tales and it’s also tales of what’s happening now. So it’s a stand-up comedy show with a theme about growing up.
I’ve had a look at some of your previous work from YouTube, and you talk a lot about normal, everyday things, is this where you get inspiration for your material?
I’m not a political comedian, I don’t have anything smart or new to add, everything’s just from my life. I like joking about my dad, telling fun stories like that. I find I’m quite relatable, if you want a break from the news and politics, and talking about Trump, come hang out with me for an hour and let’s have a laugh.
Staying on your act, you’re a really good storyteller, did you pick this up from other comedians? Tell us about your influences…
My favourite comedian growing up was Billy Connolly. If you watch any of his stuff, he’s just the best storyteller. My jokes aren’t short, they’re still jokes, like they’re funny, but I love honest true stories that are funny. Every joke I say on stage comes from a place that’s actually happened or something that’s true. So people like Billy Connolly or Judith Lucy are my comic inspirations.
I’ve seen your Prank Wars series, were you a bit of a practical joker in school?
(Laughs) Oh no, where have you found that? Oh God, yeah the lame Prank Wars were fun. Yeah I was an absolute nightmare, school was so boring to me. I was ‘that kid’, you know the one in every classroom, throwing erasers into the fan; I loved a prank. Those prank wars were obviously lame as hell on purpose, but yeah it’s good fun.
What’s the best practical joke you pulled in school?
Aw Jesus Christ. That’s stretching the brain. I was more of a shit stirrer, so I would never line up a big practical joke. One of the worst consequences of me being a shit stirrer was for a whole semester, my desk was moved outside. So I was outside with my pen and paper, and I wasn’t allowed back into the classroom. It was pretty funny.
Did you start out doing comedy in Perth? Or did you start when you moved over East?
I started in Perth, so one of the first gigs I did was for the Laugh Resort, and then this year I’m going back so I’m pretty excited to be going back. So yeah, I started in Perth and then after a couple of years moved over to Melbourne.
Every comedian gets the same question, but when you were in Perth, when was the worst you ever bombed?
I did one gig at a very rough bar. The Laugh Resort used to have a late open mic spot. They did the main show, and at 11 o’clock, they’d say the nights over but if you want to hang around for some open mic stuff you can. It’s usually awful though. During that set, I was doing ok, but someone thought it’d be a good idea to throw a beer bottle at my head, missed me by an inch, so (laughs), yeah, that’s up there.
So as a self-confessed bogan, what does bogan mean to you?
To me, bogans are kind of just blokes, doesn’t have to male or female. I always just think a good person, who happens to like a beer and they’re forward too much, you know what I mean (laughs).
Just to finish up, do you have any plans for 2019 after Fringe Festival?
This show goes to Adelaide, Melbourne, Edinburgh and the Sydney. Then I’m doing the Koh Samui International Podcast Festival next year, so I’m looking forward to doing that.