INTERVIEW: Tom Gleeson

Published in The Music (NSW) on, May 2017

Tom Gleeson Has Noticed A Shift In The Aussie Comedy Scene

The rise of streaming services in Australia is having a strong influence on local comedy, says Tom Gleeson. He has a Great chat with Daniel Cribb.

“If I started now, man, I’d be putting all kinds of crap on there,” Tom Gleeson laughs, looking back on his early career, well before the rise YouTube.

With social media such an influential platform and streaming services like Netflix and Stan surfacing in every direction, it’s an interesting time to be a young comic, something Gleeson is thankful he doesn’t have to endure.

“I must admit, I think it would be a nightmare because I was as confident when I started as I am now, but it was completely unfounded,” he tells. “I would have filmed my first gig, I would have loaded it up on YouTube, waiting for everyone to think I’m a genius and as a result, I would have had some very crumby stand-up online just in the ether forever.”

With those tapes locked away, the majority of footage you’ll find of Gleeson’s stand-up – including new Stan special Great – displays a comedian at the top of his game. And although he’s constantly working to improve his material, it’s still important to Gleeson that its delivery is raw and organic. “I accepted a long time ago that stand-up isn’t something you can perfect; it’s something that you can do a lot, but you can never go, ‘That was 100% perfect.’ Because there’s always something you’d change,” he explains.

“When I see other stand-up, I never like it when people are a bit too polished, it feels like the performance would have existed whether the audience was there or not.”

That’s why his One Night Stan special – one in a series of original comedy specials that includes Wil Anderson, Judith Lucy and more – hasn’t been chopped and changed. “At the end of the show, I invite the audience to correct me or guess which bits are true,” he explains. “I left all that in. There’s a lot of heckling at my shows. I didn’t cut the show at all, it’s a complete take off one live show, so when you watch it, I’d like you to think you’re in the theatre.”

Maybe that’s why he’s fonder of life on the stage rather than TV and radio, where he continues to develop a strong fan base on shows like The Weekly and Hard Quiz. “I like to think when people see me live, it’s better than they expected, and you can take that two ways – it means I’m good at stand-up or bad at TV. But the truth is, stand-up is the thing that I have been doing consistently for 30 years – that is my day job, it always has been.”

Over that time, Gleeson has noticed a shift in the Australian comedy scene; something he attributes to the rise of streaming services. “I certainly have noticed a big shift in Australia because I feel like a lot of younger comedians who are coming through are more influenced by America than the UK,” he says.

“When I started, I reckon 95% of comedians were just completely UK focused; they really liked UK comedy, whereas I feel like American stand-up has had a real resurgence due to online stuff, obviously with people like Louis CK, Bill Burr, etc.

I’ve always had a real strong American flavour to the way I do things. The way I put a routine together is probably heavily influenced by Richard Pryor or even Jerry Seinfeld.”


Show Review: Green Day 30.04.17

Published on, May 2017

Green Day

Perth Arena

Apr 30

Drawing on nostalgic ’90s skate punk vibes, SoCal force The Interrupters had everyone ready to Take Back The Power as they rolled through an eclectic set of instant hits.

With bass so chunky you could almost take a bite out of it, a refreshing dose of ska was unleashed with She Got Arrested and This Is The New Sound, all delivered with a husky charm from vocalist Aimee Allen screaming with ear-piercing precision between gritty, uplifting melodies.

The Interrupters proved they were one of the most fun bands you’ll see live. Punk is alive and well.

“This is not a fucking tea party, this is a fucking rock’n’roll party, baby!” Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong screamed between fireworks and the infectious chorus lines of Know Your Enemy.

It was an opening of finale execution and saw the entire room yelling along and bouncing in time, ending with a young punter pulled from the audience to sing the final chorus.

The energy in the room transformed it into a sauna, amplified by overwhelming pyrotechnics for new singles Bang Bang and Revolution Radio. As soon as Holiday kicked in the insane production stopped, suggesting the new songs still need training wheels to stand up against the classics.

“No racism, no sexism, no homophobia, and no Donald Trump,” Armstrong pleaded through the darkness before unveiling an Aussie flag and rounding out the song with bassist Mike Dirnt by his side, trudging through heavy bass lines.

Green Day’s fourth member, Jason White, strummed away for an intimate rendition of Boulevard Of Broken Dreams that had the entire room echoing the lyrics in one of the show’s most powerful moments – despite Armstrong leading a corny “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie” chant to break the atmosphere.

For many, the energetic vocalist was a god-like figure so when he called a punter out for filming (“It’s fucking destroying our lives.”) it became a new testament and a sea of lights slowly flickered off. A short-lived pleasantry done away with when Dirnt joined Tre Cool on the drum riser for the rolling intro of ’94 hit Longview.

“Real old school fans” were treated to Kerplunk‘s 2000 Light Years Away, another high point of the evening but not received as well – perhaps why Armstrong doused the first few rows with a hose and then tried to do away with punters in the nosebleed section Maude Flanders-style with a T-shirt gun.

Punk mainstay Jason Freese consumed the spotlight with a sax solo into to Operation Ivy’s Knowledge, which meant one lucky audience member would soon be plucked from the crowd to join the band on stage to play guitar.

The 16-year-old who volunteered may have exaggerated her credentials in order to get close to her idols, with Armstrong needing to assist throughout – a smart move that scored her a guitar and moment she’ll never forget.

Many a voice was torn to shreds during the nostalgic smorgasbord that was Basket Case and She back-to-back, and then the night’s boldest number unfolded in the flamboyant King For A Day.

Still Breathing heavily after the insane burst of energy, Armstrong had little time to regroup before returning to the runway in a denim jacket and screaming his lungs out during Forever Now and American Idiot, leading into a theatrical finale in Jesus Of Suburbia and touching solo performance of Ordinary World and Good Riddance (Time of Your Life).

“Tonight is about unity,” Armstrong pleaded earlier in the evening, and by the set’s end, Green Day had achieved that, no doubt changing a few lives in the process with a powerful performance.