“The enthusiasm can vanish at any point.” Alasdair Tremblay-Birchall talks comedy
Alasdair Tremblay-Birchall knows what he’s doing. A member of Youtube sketch group Stupid Old Man Media, half of Two in the Think Tank podcast, creator of Alasdair Lists Everything and a writer for The Project as well as Micallef’s Mad as Hell. This year, he’s taking himself and his Amazing Disappearing Enthusiasm to the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. We caught up with him in between Youtube videos to chat pies, polish and his show this year.
Your full name is a bit of a mouthful – do you ever consider changing your name to something shorter and catchier? What would it be?
Ive never seriously considered it, but if I was to fake consider it I’d probably blend my two last names so that my name was something like Alasdair Birlay. I like it cause Birlay sounds like a type of sac.
You have your fingers in a lot of comedic pies (short of being an actual clown), having done stand up, radio, television, Youtube and even a feature film. Are you keen on pursuing any one of them full time, or do you enjoy the variety more?
I like lots of pies to have fingers in, but it’d be great to at times be only focusing on one thing. I’ll never quit standup and I’ll do as much of the others as are offered to me. I like having mix of self-driven things and things where other people are driving. Cause self-driven stuff, you are always kind of working on it and thinking about it, whereas when other people are driving a project, you can just show up and do your bit then go home and do whatever.
Should one catch you at the start of your run where I presume you’ll be the most enthused, or at the end, when it has all disappeared? Or in the middle?
It matters not when you come, at the beginning of the run when it’s a bit more raw or at the end of the run when the show will be super run-in and sounding it’s best, the enthusiasm can vanish at any point during any of those shows. But it can also reappear. It’s like an electron. Quantum enthusiasm. I’m both enthusiastic and not-enthusiastic at the same time.
A common phrase that reviewers seem to use in conjunction with your shows is “lacking polish”. Do you revel in your lack of polish?
I do think polish is a bit of bullshit, but maybe I just think that cause I can’t do polish. But I know that when I watch comedy I like watching people who are flawed, not people with sheen. So I’m trying to become the kind of comedian I’d like to see.
You did a couple of videos documenting the writing of your show – how far along are you now?
Yeah, since most of the show wasn’t written at the beginning of this month I decided to document the process of trying to create a show in a month. It’s been a bit slow going, but it’s coming together. I’ve dumped ideas for the show, picked them up again, I’ve dumped entire structures for the show, I’ve written some bits about pigs, I got stuck for six months trying to write a thing about religion which I just didn’t crack, dumped it, picked it back up, spun it around, looked at it from different points of view…basically what I’m telling you is the show ain’t finished but I’m working harder on this than I have on anything and I believe it’ll be good.
And finally, what are your top picks for this year’s Comedy Festival?
I could recommend a lot of shows. I’ll just stick to recommending Andy Matthews’ show: THEMES.
He’s good, he helps make me better and he’s the guy a lot of people turn to when they need to fix a joke or any comedy thing. (Also we do a podcast together called “Two in the Think Tank” (www.sopod.co) where we come up with sketch ideas. I hear it’s good.)
Alasdair Tremblay-Birchall and his Amazing Disappearing Enthusiasm previews at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival on 26th and 27th March, shows from the 28th March to the 19th April at the Forum Theatre. Tickets are from $15 to $20, get them at the MICF website, Ticketmaster on 1300 660 013, or at the door.