Comedy powerhouse, Pauly Fenech has almost done it all. After more than two decades entertaining Australians both on and off screen in a multitude of roles, he’s decided tackle the elusive comedy song! SIAN CHOYCE spoke to him about his motivations, his dumb luck and his soon to be Number 1 hit single. Don’t miss Fat Pizza + Housos live at the Astor Theatre on Friday, December 1.
Did you think for a second when you entered Tropfest all those years ago with a short film about being a pizza delivery driver that you’d end up where you are today?
Never in a million years. I guess I always kind of hoped, I was always ambitious… but I mean, I was just a regular kind of guy, sitting around watching TV. I was working in TV, but I was never really on TV or anything. Then to go from Tropfest to winning a Logie, it was like “wow!”. When I was a kid I remember sitting there watching the Logies, then I was tripping out just being amongst it all, you know? Its been a wild ride. Obviously someone up there likes me.
And obviously, a lot of people down here like you as well that’s why the work has done as well as it has…
(Laughs) True, true.
What made you decide to branch out into music? You went from short film, to TV projects, to longer film and live tours…What prompted you to start your own music label?
Yeah, we’re doing so many live performances that I thought I’ve gotta start doing some music. I’m not a great singer, but I can do it a bit. And there doesn’t feel like there’s that many comedy songs out there. I wanna bring back the comedy song!
The comedy song used to be huge in Australia. Obviously, Chris ‘The Bloke’ Franklin comes to mind. Maybe you guys will have to go on tour together, bring it to the masses? He’s well known for his love of the double-plugger (a reinforced thong/jandal/flip-flop for any international readers…)
Well, this is true. He has actually toured with me on some stage shows and we might actually be doing a show on New Year’s.
Ah, there you go… you heard it hear first with X-Press! Keep an ear out Australia. I’ve had a listen to the song, I got a really strong Oz Rock kinda vibe. A bit AC/DC sounding, perhaps?
For copyright reasons I can’t say it sounds anything like AC/DC…
Oh… um, I meant it reminds me of batteries…?
(Laughs) I’m joking, its fine. I wanted it to have that Oz Rock/70s kinda vibe. I’m a big fan of that genre, so yeah, that’s what we were after.
Oh good! Well, that vibe definitely comes across. You’ve been touring like crazy recently doing packed, live shows across the country. Do you prefer creating and recording stuff and slowly watching the public react to it, or do you prefer the immediate response of a crowd at a live show?
They’re equally satisfying, to be honest. I did something like 15 years straight of a movie or a TV show every year and for the last year I’ve just been doing live stuff. It’s been good to do one and not the other, but I do love them both. A TV show is like a relationship, it lasts longer and there’s upkeep along the way but its great. A live show is like a one night stand; short, fun and you don’t have to think about it too much the next day. The movies and the TV kind of exist forever but the live shows sort of come and go, they’re unique. I wouldn’t say I like one more than the other. I’m just greedy, I love it all! Acting, directing… why not a hit song now?!
Triple threat, hey?
I want to prove that I’m the ultimate entertainer in Australia. Who can match me? Producer, director, writer, actor, singer… and comedian. Who can match me? Tell me?
No one is springing to mind straight away…
There’s none, mate. Even in the world, there’s almost no one who does all those roles for a film. Some of them produce and act in it or write but they never direct as well so, I’m the ultimate entertainment masochist obviously (laughs).
Do you ever feel like you’ve taken on too much of that? Maybe you should’ve handed some stuff off?
Not really, you know. In all honesty, I used to be a boxer and I’ve had a little bit of military experience and after those real hard things in life, this is a bludge! Just a joy. I’ve had real jobs, they’re hard! (laughs)
Do you think those things (boxing and military) because they’re so focus and commitment driven have helped you in being able to manage all those roles at once?
100%. It may not look overly disciplined when we’re doing all our different things but its about; make a plan, follow it through, tough it out. Those three things are just a great ethos in whatever you’re going to do. we make our mission to make people laugh and we’re gonna do it. There’s been a lot of dumb luck though. I make it sound like it’s all hard work, but there’s been quite a bit of dumb luck. This is dumb luck for you: when we were gonna make the first season of Fat Pizza we did a pilot for SBS and the guy who had to make the decision, he hated it. Didn’t want to do it. We waited two years while he was just umming and ahhhing. He suddenly had a heart attack and his replacement came in and gave it the green light within a week! Dumb luck at its best.
(Laughs) He didn’t get a special pizza delivery to his house with some secret ingredients or anything?
I swear to God I didn’t jump into his office and scream “BOO” or anything like that (laughs).
Bogan Hunters was a very successful doco-style parody that you made and a lot of people don’t know that early on in your career you made a more serious documentary called More Than Legends, which highlighted Indigenous culture through the eyes of Leaders from a few different Aboriginal groups including the Noongar people of WA. Have you always been a big Documentary fan?
It’s a Wiki-fact a lot of people don’t know about me, I’m a mad fan of history. I probably watch more documentaries than anything else when I’m just chilling out. I’m a big conspiracy nut too, so documentaries are always my thing.
So, even if it’s just in a parody style, do you think you’ll direct anything else like that?
Look, unfortunately I actually made a few docos back in the day and it just felt like people didn’t want to hear brutal, honest truth. Which is what docos are about. But, they do like to hear the truth through comedy. So, I feel like I’m doing the same thing, just indirectly.
That’s a very good way of putting it. So, no doco, but what else does the immediate post-tour future hold?
Heaps of things. I’ve just finished a book called The Bogan Bible which will be out at Christmas, so I’m an author as well now! We’ve written another movie, looking at doing some more TV next year. Oh, I’m writing a musical too actually, so there you go. It’s ridiculous.
Final question, do you sleep at all?
I get a little bit of sleep, not as much as I’d like. But, believe it or not, you can get a lot done in the day if you just sit down and do it, you know? Stop looking at Instagram, go out and make something. That’s my advice to everyone.