Interview: Alexis Dubus
If your MICF experience is feeling a little uncultured, why not throw some spoken word into the mix? Alexis Dubus is bringing Cars & Girls to Australia. Winner of Mervyn Stutter’s Spirit of the Fringe Award 2013 at Edinburgh Fringe and one of the Top 25 Best-Rated Shows Edinburgh Fringe, it’s certainly one to keep an eye on. We caught up with Alexis to talk about his “raconteur” status, his poetry and clean versus dirty comedy.
You’re doing a spoken word show in Melbourne this year. How has that experience been compared to doing straight up stand up?
To be honest, I was a bit unsure about doing a spoken word show at a comedy festival – I thought “spoken word” might seem a bit of a euphemistic way of saying “joke-free.” I think I’ve kept enough nob jokes in there to keep stand-up fans happy…
Have you done a lot of written poetry, or did you go straight into spoken word?
I’ve done little bits, here and there, and I’ve always enjoyed a bit of wordplay in my routines, but putting together a full show was a really fun challenge. I’ve always been a fan of John Cooper Clarke, Murray Lachlan Young and Phill Jupitus’ Porky The Poet alter-ego, and wanted to emulate them in some way, as well as the Beat poets, with a more modern spin, and a bit less casual misogyny…
There’s ben a bit of debate amongst comedians these last few weeks about clean comedy versus the alternative. What’s your opinion on the whole thing?
I think you need to take each show and performer on its own merits. You could call mine a relatively clean show in that there’s not much swearing in it, but it covers topics that some might still consider “unclean” – sex, drugs, general debauchery. The world seems to be getting more reactionary, and we need to keep comedy and theatre as that bastion of freedom of expression. That said, a “clean” comedian with a clever, well-honed routine is infinitely more enjoyable than a comedian trying to be edgy simply by throwing out shock words or phrases without intelligence or craft.
The other shows you’ve created don’t sound particularly “clean”, does your spoken word follow that?
Ha, I guess not. But I actually created “A Bl**dy Brief History Of Swearing” and “A Surprisingly Tasteful Show About Nudity” as a response to a wave of “shock comics” that were coming to the fore at that time. They were more comedy lectures than stand-up – I thought it would be interesting to take a comedic peek at why these topics are taboo in the first place.
You’ve also done a lot of TV work. Would you ever consider going into that full time?
Live comedy is still my main love – I like the fear factor that comes with it, and the immediacy. When it comes to TV, especially with stand-up, I hate the feeling of it being out of my control, having routines I’ve spent a long time working on suddenly edited, or having to do another take, knowing it might have lost some of the magic the second time round. But I do have an exciting project coming up in the UK that I’m sadly not allowed to talk about just yet, where I’ve got a lot more creative control. If all goes to plan, hopefully you will hear about it soon…
A word that shows up a lot in describing you is “raconteur”. Do you think that’s accurate?
I hope so, it’s a great adjective. I had the pleasure of meeting Billy Connolly in New Zealand a couple of years, king of the raconteurs, and I have fond memories of Clive James and Dave Allen’s shows as a child. I’ve got a lot of respect for those who find wonder in the minutiae of life, as every good raconteur does, and there are some wonderful examples of this at the Festival this year – Jon Bennett, Des Bishop, Hannah Gadsby and David Quirk, to name just a few.
To book tickets for Cars & Girls, head to the Comedy Festival website – you’ve got less than a week left!