Interview: Nath Valvo
As Nath Valvo walks into the Trades Hall bar, he is greeted or hugged by almost everyone within a five metre radius. Clearly he is well loved at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.
“You do gigs with them all year, so you get to know everyone well,” he says of the local comedy scene later. “You call each other when you’ve had a bad show, and you call each other when you’ve had a really good show and you want to brag.”
Anyway, after he drags himself away from his friends, he’s happy to have a chat (but in true Gen Y style, he has his phone in front of him and checks it every so often). “I’ve been really busy,” he tells me. “This is like the one month a year I have a full-time job.” Melbourne International Comedy Festival month is indeed a big one for comedians, and Valvo has been selling out his shows.
He doesn’t rest on his laurels the other eleven months though. On weekends, he presents on Nova FM nationwide. “I’m really not that good,” he says brashly, adding, “Once I had 45 seconds of dead air…”
There’s no doubt Valvo enjoys radio, but his ultimate goal is to host his own talk show. “I think it’s what Australian TV is missing.” His face lights up as he talks about his talk show plans. “In America, they have heaps of talk shows. I want there to be a talk show on Channel 7, and 9, and 10…do you remember Rove?” he asks. Rove Live was arguably one of the most well-known talk shows in Australia. Valvo wants to beat that.
But even with his lofty television ambitions, the Almost 30 comedian probably wouldn’t give up live comedy. “There’s nothing quite like it,” he says fondly. “Robin Williams said…even after all his awards and movies, he still went back to stand up.”
Besides presenting on Nova and preparing to dominate the late night talk show circuit, Valvo has written four shows in the past two years. “Really?” Valvo asks. “I guess I have.” A lot of comedians stick with one show for the whole year, or even two years running. It says something about this comedian’s work ethic (or maybe just the fact that he has too much time on his hands). “I have a lot to talk about,” he explains. And because the queer community is so close (Valvo came out in his early twenties), shows such as Fag Hags and Grindr: A Love Story have big audiences at festivals like Midsumma and the Melbourne Fringe Festival.
“I don’t want to say my Comedy Festival show is generic,” Valvo qualifies, searching for the right words. “They’re just less about that part of my life. Most audiences here wouldn’t know what the Peel is,” he says as a for instance.
Valvo turns 30 this year. He’s not thrilled, but he’s not particularly worried either. “Look at me,” he says bluntly. “I’m 29 and still haven’t hit puberty!” Rather than talking about age, the baby-faced 29-year-old has written a show about his terrible luck with birthday parties.
“Birthdays are a chance to show everyone how cool you are. You can show your old friends you have new friends and you can tell your work friends, ‘Look, I’m cool!'” Unfortunately for Valvo, most of his important birthday parties don’t quite go as planned. For example, he says: “At my 16th birthday party, my mum passed out because she got so drunk.”
It sounds like quite a show, and the interview wraps up about an hour before Valvo is due to hit the stage for another performance of Almost 30. Is he nervous? Does he any pre-show rituals? “Nah. I guess I should something to make me sound more professional. I wank…but I do that most days of the week.” So it’s not really a show-specific wank? “No, it’s not a show-specific wank.” (He’s decidedly delighted by that phrase, and demands to have it featured in the article.
It’s not a show-specific wank.