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TITUS O’REILY Insufficient Intent

Sports satirist Titus O’Reily is heading to Perth as part of his Insufficient Intent tour, performing at the Octagon Theatre at UWA on Saturday, September 2. This hilarious review of the 2017 AFL Season is happening right across the country during the Bye Round Weekend – with no AFL game on, it’s a great opportunity to get a football fix before finals get underway. Titus O’Reily has built a cult following of fans with over 50,000 Facebook followers and over 150,000 Twitter followers enjoying his humorous take on reporting the AFL. Titus O’Reily has been a popular guest on radio, television and newspapers as well as his own stand-up shows which he has expanded to a national tour this year. BRAYDEN EDWARDS spoke to Titus O’Reily on what WA fans can look forward to.

What made you decide to include Perth this year?

I feel like I’m one of the few Melbourne footy writers that realises Perth exists. I’ve always had a lot of followers in WA so it’s going to be great coming over. The show is looking at the season as a whole but it’s looking at the stupidity that seems to surround it on a weekly basis. I’m never short of material. Just in the last few months we’ve had executives punching people, players caught up in extortion cases and that’s the stuff that’s not even happening on the field.

What’s the best source for new material for you? The richest vein of comedy gold?

It’s probably at the moment and consistently over time been the Richmond Football Club. They are the gold standard and every comedian’s dream come true. At times it’s like they’re trying to outdo me. I previously did a show and I described it as being funnier than Richmond’s season. I had to announce that as a promo message halfway through the season and from then on it was like Richmond went out of their way to try and prove me wrong. Even to the point of becoming the first team ever to lose a final to a team that didn’t make the finals (referring to Carlton beating Richmond in the 2013 elimination final).

Essendon have also been great for a long time. I see James Hird is back at the Grand Final to present the Norm Smith Medal this year. It just shows that no matter what you do as a footballer, if you’re a star you’ll be forgiven for everything. It would be nice if that applied to all other walks of life as well.

Do you think being a Melbourne supporter has helped in developing your sense of humour about the game?

As a Melbourne supporter you have to have a sense of humour, because why else would you put yourself through this torture? It’s like being dumped every single weekend. I think it’s taken about ten years off my life going for Melbourne but that’s probably not the worst thing as it’s ten less years I have to watch them. I think Fremantle supporters might have a similar world view. Even when they’re going well there’s this expectation that something is bound to go wrong at any time.

Eagles fans are a little different. They’ve got a sense that they should be winning and they’re used to it so they actually find it a lot harder to cope with. One of my favourite things about going to Western Australia is listening to Perth radio after an Eagles loss. I love how with so many fans they go through one loss and it’s the end of the world and nothing else in life is important anymore. I wrote something about West Coast not playing so well when I did my weekly wrap-up of the round, and I had about five West Coast supporters contact me. I was a bit harsh so I expected them all to be telling me off. But instead they were saying I wasn’t harsh enough. I don’t get that from Freo supporters.

As bad as Fremantle have been in the past there was the best part of a decade there where they won basically every derby and they didn’t mind letting Eagles supporters know about it…

Well you guys have that extra element of sharing a state. It’s such a tangible thing. You go to work on Monday and you’ve got the bragging rights. Melbourne doesn’t really have a rivalry that’s so pronounced because we haven’t been any good. Our rivalry has been ourselves.

What I find interesting is the Victorian coverage of the Perth teams. If you’re no good we never hear about you. If you are good, especially the Eagles, they just run the 2006 drug stories again as a television exclusive. Whenever I see a Herald Sun headline about the 2006 flag being tainted I look at the ladder and go “oh the Eagles are good this year.”

For us it seems to be something they run whenever it’s slow news week. A Today Tonight special about Ben Cousins that doesn’t really tell us anything we didn’t know already…

They think there must be someone who has been on some island and hasn’t heard the story yet and that’s who they’re trying to get it to.

There’s been plenty of criticism of West Coast not being able to play the MCG very well. What do you think about the decision to build the new Perth Stadium to the same shaped field as the MCG? In a way aren’t the West Australian teams shooting themselves in the foot playing their home games on a ground they struggle with?

Well West Coast have at least managed to shed that tag of being ‘flat track bullies’ this year by showing their ability to lose both at home and away. I wouldn’t have thought that was the best way to address the criticism. I think it will ultimately good for the Perth teams. I’ve noticed even teams that usually play at Etihad stadium notice a huge difference when they come to the MCG. The fact that the Grand Final is always at the MCG is one of the great advantages that Melbourne clubs have. Whenever I hear Victorians complain about the benefits that interstate teams have I always laugh. The amount of travel that Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane teams do especially, and that they will never have a home Grand Final.

I was very disappointed to hear though there was a debate on whether you’re going to get mid-strength beer or not. It’s like they’ve gone too far in trying to emulate the MCG in that regard. You can only get full-strength in all the members areas and corporate boxes while all the poor people have no choice to drink what I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy.

Well there’s plenty to get wrong on a project of that scale. We’ve also had issues with the train station bridge for the new stadium not being ready while the stadium itself is on track…

I’m no infrastructure expert but I would have thought making sure people could get in to the stadium would have been one of the key performance indicators in the project. It makes me think of a bloke who has just put together some Ikea furniture and doesn’t look at the instructions until he realises he has got six screws left over.

This has been a hard season to make sense of and I think that has reflected on my tipping being about as bad as I can remember. What’s been the biggest surprise for you?

This season is drunk. It doesn’t know what to do and it’s all over the shop. I figured out pretty early this year that if you know anything about football you’re going to be tipping really badly. It’s the kind of year where someone in your office that knows nothing about the game will be like “I got nine this week. Is that good?” The AFL has also stepped up the nonsense, bringing in phrases like ‘insufficient intent’, or ‘manifestly inadequate’. It’s like someone at AFL house just figured out how to use the thesaurus on Microsoft Word. Overall it has been a fun season and I think for any team that can make the eight they could be right in thinking that anything could happen from here. I think we’ll all enjoy it right up until the point that the Giants win.

I think a lot of people have surprised themselves noticing they are going for Hawthorn as the underdog in some games…

Hawthorn worry me as they have been just close enough to the eight that it’s concerning. They’re like the Terminator, you thought they were dead but there’s still life there. You look at the way Sydney have turned their season around it shows what’s possible. Then it’s been such a crazy season that the fitting winner could almost be Richmond.

As a Melbourne supporter, how do you recommend WA fans get through September if their teams don’t make the finals? 

It’s a great opportunity to catch up on your drinking. Last year I found myself really getting into the cricket. There’s also the draft and trade week, which is unlike the actual season in that there’s a chance for something to happen for every team. As a Melbourne supporter that’s often been the only exciting part of the year for me. Even then they were prone to doing something stupid that would just set us back even more. But as for this year it’s going to be interesting. There’s no team that you look at and think are unbeatable.

So much can happen in the time between now and when I head over to Perth. I usually end up writing the show in the week leading up to it because some things can be so quick to fall from being the big story to being forgotten about in footy so you kind of have to do that. There’s always something new and it never stops giving.

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