BENNY BOOT: DEFCON 4
Australian born Benny Boot has been reviewed by the likes of Tim Minchin, Jimmy Carr and Frankie Boyle. So naturally, we thought we’d jump on the bandwagon.
His new Edinburgh festival show ‘Defcon 4’ promises to be contemporary, unconventional and totally original. We are living in an ever changing media landscape, and comedy is no exception. According to Benny, comedy has gone sexy. We are talking to a man here who has signed boobs! He’s even been asked to sign a pregnant woman’s belly, and would consider signing the new-born! He’s yet to have a g-string thrown at him however…
We chatted about the rules behind comedy, performance and the comedians he himself admires. Also the latest craze is apparently people shouting out joke requests like a rock concert. ‘They go nuts for it! Some comedians have timeless and repeatable humour. You enjoy the way it’s written, the premise, the structure and appreciate it’.
It is often said that comics can be hilarious on-stage and something totally different off-stage. For Benny Boot, this is not the case. The man is witty, personable and just generally seems to love his life. He talks to us about his unique approach, comedy schools, and why having anybody other than the general public in his audience can be nerve-wracking.
Oh, and his favourite song is ‘Foster the People – Pumped up Kicks’.
Benny nice to meet you. So, I’m going to play you at your own game here, playing comedy by the book. Start big and end big is one of the main rules so start big! Tell us about a Benny Boot show! Make it big!
Do I have to sell it over the top? I feel like I’m already defeating the purpose! If I go on stage and I’m feeling quite silly and confident it’s probably gunna be a big show. If I’m relaxed and there’s nice rhythm, that’s probably me making it big. And the audience has to be f*cking savvy too. If it’s not then it’s usually just f*ckin press play and my mind diverts. I like the turbulence. That’s a better analogy. More turbulence! Turbulence – good, none-turbulence and I’ll just sit back and go onto auto-pilot.
You have a theme for deconstructing comedy. Your last Edinburgh show ‘set-up, punch line, pause for laughter’ did just that. Explain the idea behind ‘Defcon 4’ and how you’re going to feature it in this year’s show.
Defcon 4 is a reference to a joke that I did last year where I said that if a joke didn’t work I told the audience not to worry ‘cos I have a list of my jokes. At the bottom of this list are my defcon 4 jokes for if the shit went sour, I’d use the defcon 4 jokes. Then I would jokingly say ‘you’d be surprised at how often I’ve used them’ and they’d all go ‘hahahahaha’ and then I’d say ‘I’ve already used them….’
I’m trying to reach that stage where you can say pretty much anything and get a laugh. It’s almost like you could say the most racist jokes, and the audience would go ‘yea, I love that shit! We love you!’
You’re a comedians favourite. Is that level of responsibility scary?
Some comedians enjoy watching me. I’m not a comedians comedian yet though… A comedians comedian is who other comedians look up to. Either they don’t give a shit or theres something really really different. Rev. Obadiah Steppenwolf, he’s amazing to watch. Eric Lampert is quite nice to watch cos he’s quite off the cuff and just goes f*ckin’ crazy on stage.
What, if anything, do you find is the scariest thing about performing?
Scariest thing about performing? Oh man there’s so many scary things but at the same time you get used to’ em. Dying (on stage) isn’t scary. I think it’s scary if you’re doing a gig and there somebody in the audience that your tryna impress or like get something out of like say a TV audition or something like that.. I guess if there is a reviewer in, that’s horrible because there’s so much pressure. This is f*ckin’ scary, if you’ve got your mates in the audience! There always like ‘hey, yea, really good dude, let’s go get a drink! You did comedy for how many years? Was that like a good show or what’s the deal?’ This is where you ended up 4 years after leaving high school…
People can play to the rules of comedy and still die a death. What do you think makes a person naturally funny?
If your endearing and people automatically like you, it’s a massive thing. ‘Cos if your stuff’s not working they’ll still really laugh and enjoy you, they’ll laugh even if you die. If you’re an endearing and engaging person, that works. I’m a big believer in not overcomplicating your jokes. You can make them intelligent, but don’t make them too wordy. If you can go from point A to point B in every joke with the least amount of words and still get the message across, it becomes really concise. Also have a unique way of looking at stuff. And be f*ckin’ funny and not boring!
Tim Minchin thinks you are ‘f*ck*ng funny’. Who do you admire and why?
I love Tim Minchin, I love Stephen Wright, I love Demetri Martin.. Kitson, er, the late Mitch Hedberg. They are the ones I really look up too. I like Flight of the Conchords as well, them and Minchin are quite different, quite jokey. Martin Wright and Hedberg have short jokes. Kitson, I mean he’s just on another level. Whenever I go and see him, he makes me feel better and more intelligent when I walk out. Better about the world and myself. You leave feeling nicer, with a better vocabulary and more of a human than before you went in there. I have a laugh and go back to my arse-hole self.
Do you think it’s important for a comedian to be able to laugh at themselves?
I have been slated in the past for laughing at my own jokes by reviewers. I think it makes you feel comfortable if you’re willing to laugh at yourself. Not taking it all serious all the time.
Do you think they should teach comedy in schools? If so how?
No. You can’t f*ckin’ teach comedy, people try and mass produce it. I hate comedy courses, I have a weird thing about them. You can’t teach somebody to be funny. Some of ‘em (people), they come out and they are all the same. They are mass produced, same delivery.. the courses are just creating androids.
Maybe you could do a course ABOUT comedy, like an English or history course where you learn about comedy. If they like it they can read more information about the people they like.
Where are you going next? Both with your career, and physically?
Physically – on stage to perform to 300 children under the age of 12. They get comics to do their same set obviously without the swearing. The kids do laugh at it. They laugh at the imagery more than the word play and stuff. That’s where I’m going physically which is gunna be a hoot!
In career.. I dunno, there’s a few things on my life scale that I wanna get ticked off. I wanna get invited to Melbourne, The Kilkenny Comedy festival and the Montreal festival. Hopefully they’ll happen soonish. Like, within the next week.
‘Defcon 4’ runs from the 1st to the 26th of august at the Wee Coo, and its only 6 quid! You’d be mad to miss it.
Ticket information here.