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Hot off the back of a sold out Sydney Comedy Festival, Jack Gow makes his Perth debut this FRINGE WORLD at Cookery at Girls School from Monday, February 10 until Sunday, February 16. Just A Small Town Boy is a hilarious, bittersweet coming-of-age story that explores the idiosyncrasies of growing up as an outsider in small-town country Australia. BRAYDEN EDWARDS spoke to Jack Gow about turning his own childhood into a comedy show, the oddest things about living in a small country town and what he still finds perplexing in his new life in the big city.

It’s great to have you over here for your Perth debut! What’s the main thing fellow comedians tell you about coming over to WA?

This is going to make me sound like a real sycophant, but the main thing I’ve heard is that Perth audiences are almost universally great – apparently you show up en masse and thoroughly enjoy yourselves! I’m really hoping that’s true and that I haven’t jinxed myself.

Your show is about growing up as an “outsider” in a small country town, what was it that made you want to explore this idea through comedy?

I guess people are always trying to make sense of their childhoods, right? It’s the formative moment in your life and yet, for the most part, you’re navigating your way through this turbulent time blindly because everything you’re experiencing – be it emotional, physiological, hormonal, or social – you’re experiencing for the first time.

You have no reference points against which to assess anything, so to look back and try to comprehend what you’ve gone through, especially if, like me, you didn’t feel accepted, seems like a very human compulsion. That said, it’s obviously impossible to assess yourself objectively, so performing and getting feedback from the audience each night helps me gauge whether or not I was in the wrong. As it turns out, I was often the one behaving like an arsehole!

It’s a little indulgent, isn’t it? Were you attracted to comedy as a career because it was one in which it was acceptable to just talk about yourself for hours and expect people to listen?

(Laughs) It’s definitely indulgent! But, as you said, it comes with the territory. Ultimately though, the world is a fascinating place and I think examining the minutiae of it and one’s place in it can be, and often is, endlessly entertaining.

Looking at your own childhood through a comedy lens must be confronting but also therapeutic in a sense too. Is there anything you look back on now that you find hilarious that you never would have thought at the time?

Most of it, to be honest. In this show though, it’s probably the time my under-11s soccer team was interviewed by the local newspaper and they asked what I wanted to be when I grew up and, after all my teammates had dutifully said they wanted to be a Socceroo, I said I wanted to be the Secretary-General of the United Nations… That nickname stuck with me for years.

What’s the oddest thing about living in a small country town that city-dwellers wouldn’t understand?

The claustrophobia; the feeling that, as everyone knows who you are, everything you do is noted and scrutinised. I remember when I first moved to Sydney, one of the most intoxicating things I discovered was how you could be completely anonymous, moving through this teeming city without anyone giving you so much as a second thought.

And is there anything about big cities and living in them that still puzzles you?

Commuting! It used to take my parents five minutes to drive to work and the idea that we’ve all acquiesced to giving up hours of our lives each week sitting on the train or the bus or in our cars, just to get to – not even to actually do – our work, blows my mind! I don’t have an alternative solution, I just wish scientists would hurry up and figure out teleportation already.

Comedians are typically always observing things around them that they can turn into comedy material in the future, what are you finding funny in the world, or in your own life right now that might become the content for your next show?

It’s not so much something I find funny, but, like a lot of people, I can’t stop thinking about climate change and I feel like there must be a way to use comedy to demand meaningful action by keeping it in the public consciousness. So, if everything goes according to plan, that’s what my next show will be about! The only possible difficulty I can envisage is how to turn our cataclysmic, self-inflicted annihilation into something funny… but I’m sure I’ll figure it out!

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