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Comedy In The Raw - Raw Comedy Competition

Author: Toby Sullivan
Monday, March 16, 2009

That great training ground for new Australian stand-up comedy talent, The Raw Comedy Comp, is drawing to a close. 3D’s Darryn King spoke to competition producer Toby Sullivan about life in the raw.

Do you remember your very first stand-up experience-
I started just a year before Raw came into its own, and I’ve always been jealous that I couldn’t start with Raw. My first time was going on as the first act of a proper stand-up comedy bill, and of course I sucked balls. It was a very harsh introduction. With Raw, you go to a heat and there are 12 other people on with you so you can compare notes, and the audience is prepared, very warm and supporting. You’re far less likely to have the car crash gig that’s going to turn you off ever getting up on stage again.

The audience knows what to expect, don’t they-
They know what they’re in for. But that doesn’t mean it’s bad. Raw can have some of the most amazing spontaneous moments you’ll see in a comedy room all year. It does add an extra energy to the night too. You’ve got an extra factor – the comedy and excitement of not knowing if the next act will be good or not.

In Steve Martin’s memoir about his stand-up years, he says that he had absolutely no enjoyment during the gig itself, but afterwards there’d be hours of elation or despair, depending on how we went. Is that how it is-

Oh yeah. The time on stage just passes in a blur. It’s only when it stops that you realise how much fun you’re having. The other thing is that you never remember the good gigs. The good gigs pass in a camera flash. You just miss it, you don’t even hear it, and you need to relive moments in recordings afterwards. The bad gigs you remember in excruciating second-by-millisecond detail. You only learn from the bad gigs.

In your time with the comp, you must have seen some acts that blew you away straight off-
There’s usually one every year that you see and go, right, I can see your whole career unfolding in front of you. Celia Piccola is a Melbourne performer, she’s done some work on ABC radio, she won the Best Comedy Award at the Melbourne Fringe Festival during the year – you’ll be seeing a lot more of her in the future. Her first gig was at Raw, and I swear in the first 90 seconds I thought, you’re a bona fide star.

On the other hand, you must’ve seen some train wrecks over the years…
There’s many ways to die. Some people just have a 9-11 moment and just crash and can’t remember, or do their big finish and get a flat line, or they mumble their words, or forget a call-back. Some people crash and don’t realise they’re crashing. One guy in Melbourne last week had three-and-a-half minutes of the most incredibly vulgar, misogynist, racist, cheap, stolen-from-the-internet comedy sewer of material. I was worried someone was going to rush the stage. But if you were watching him on television with the sound down, you’d think he was having a great gig. Then you get straight out weird shit; the time a guy’s big finish was to cut off the head of an Elmo doll with a pair of bolt cutters.

WHAT: Raw Comedy semi-final and state final
WHEN: Monday 16 March / Monday 23