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Burns' Victims - Brendon Burns Interview

Author: Darryn King
Monday, April 6, 2009

Australian stand-up ex-pat Brendon Burns once had monoped Adam Hills remove his artificial right foot – and proceeded to ‘blow’ the stump, live on stage. All par for the course for Burns, who has put out a new DVD of his edgy, provocative comedy – So I Suppose This Is Offensive Now! He spoke to 3D’s Darryn King.

What do you say to your detractors- Have you met any of them-

I have. I’ve befriended them into a false sense security and am waiting to pounce. I’m in a tree as we speak.

Do you find you offend more English people or Australian people-
Unless we count my youth, it has to be the English. Only as a sheer numbers game though, given that I’ve done most of my work there. There is a difference between the humour though. Australians find subtext dishonest. In short, the British sense of humour is more sophisticated – the Australian more honest. Both have their merits and make each equally challenging and fun. Although it has to be said the Melbourne crowds lean more towards the British. The good and the bad.

We know that it’s healthy to get things off one’s chest – so how cathartic is your stand-up for you-

Good – I’m glad you asked this. The catharsis of comedy is something that every comic goes through… then grows out of. ‘Catharsis’ in the modern sense seems to mean ‘quick fix’. I’ve seen way too many comics, when dying on their arse (myself included in the past), hiding behind ‘catharsis’. I fail to see how not being funny when you’re supposed to results in self-awareness and discovery. It achieves the perfect opposite: self-delusion. These days I don’t touch anything painful for me until I’ve given myself time to process it in real life.

But you wrote a bunch of shows about a break-up and your descent into insanity…-

Artistically I’m proud of it and a lot of people have approached me and said it helped them with their problems but, in hindsight, I know it wasn’t good for me. The whole thing was self perpetuating. Getting on stage every night and reliving the same angers and paranoias and people laughing it off – then my presuming that I’d found my quick fix I’d get up the following night and doing the whole thing all over again. All the while thinking, simultaneously, “I’m OK now. Have I gone mad- I’m OK now. Have I gone mad-” over and over. As Woody Allen said, “tragedy plus time equals comedy”. I’d say “tragedy plus time times zero equals catharsis”.
Some of your fellow comedians provide a commentary on this DVD… Can you tell us about that-

For sure, rather than having the traditional circle jerk I thought I’d give Ed Byrne his chance to get his revenge. When his DVD came out I suggested he have his mates take the piss. And we did. Quite brutally. It was done with such love though. It seems to have caught on quite well. Here the honours are taken up by Ed Byrne, Adam Bloom, Dave Hadingham and Ben Norris. Ed, Adam and Dave are three guys I started out with. We were the youngest guys on the circuit back then and were nicknamed the crèche by some. Ben is renowned as the world’s funniest man. When he’s had a few drinks, comedians just sit around him and let him go. If he ever works out how to make it translate to stage he’ll be a millionaire.
So I Suppose This Is Offensive Now! is available now on DVD.