Brendon Burns

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Joined: 25 Apr 2006

PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2008 10:57 pm    Post subject: Brendon Burns Reply with quote

'After 17 years of slogging along, the possibilities seem limitless'
Brendon Burns on winning awards, respecting the audience and cutting to the funny
Interview by Chris Wiegand
Friday May 9, 2008

You won Edinburgh's if.comedy award last year. How has it helped?
It's a real deal-sealer; I was made all sorts of offers in the first week. It used to be that whoever won the award was on television by the time they handed the award over to the next winner the following year. I'm taking a bit longer than that to make my pilot, but we're getting there. After 17 years of slogging along, the possibilities seem limitless. It's perfect timing. If I'd have won the award when I was younger, I'd have made too much money and I would be dead.

Have you prepared this year's Edinburgh show yet?
It's pretty much written. I write early - a lot of guys leave it quite late. This is the one year that I'm going up to Edinburgh with no strict narrative thread. Last year's show was very scripted. In previous years, there was a lot of improv going on in the middle because I got bored. Then I realised that's down to petulance. It's not fair on people who are buying a ticket to see you in a show that's been reviewed - and reviewed well - for you to change it because you got bored.

You appeared in a straight play at Edinburgh last year. Did that affect your comedy?
Doing that play gave me discipline during the day to turn the stand-up at night into the pointless folly that it should be. When I approached stand-up with that mindset, to just be as funny as I can, everyone started writing about it as though it was deep philosophical thought, but I was just cutting to the funny. In previous years, I'd tried so hard to be magnanimous with the subjects I was broaching that it stopped being funny. When you stop being funny, no one cares what you're saying.

You started doing stand-up when you were living in Australia. Are Aussie audiences different to British ones?
I used to say that there was no such thing as the British sense of humour. But now I think I've got it. The British sense of humour is more complex in its language - British people understand the algebra of jokes better. Sometimes you can leave the punchline hanging and they'll write it in their heads. My favourite jokes are the ones where people are confused what the target is. The release is when they realise that the target is them.

What about the size of venues?
In a small club, you can't do Chris Rock-level performance shtick. You can't have that level of polish. You can see every face and smell every breath - there's no sense of occasion when you walk on stage. You're basically commanding a conversation. If the venue's bigger, you're working the room, which is physically taxing. You use every corner of the stage; you sell every bit like you're singing it.

Do you watch a lot of comedians?
God, yeah. It's tough if you're on the same bill, because this is the most self-absorbed art form, and also the most controlled. But I'm more laidback these days and I will enjoy other guys on the bill. I was so lucky because I moved here at an exciting time - with so many really cool voices. These days, my career is such that I don't have to work Saturday nights, so if one of my mates is on in town, then I go. And I can just sit back and enjoy it.

· Brendon Burns performs I Suppose THIS is Offensive Now at Soho theatre in London May 22-31
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 08, 2010 6:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How We Met: Phil Nichol & Brendon Burns
'A lot of comics want to be taken seriously, and don't see the preposterousness of that notion'
Interviews by Rhiannon Harries
8 August 2010
The Independent

Brendon Burns, 39, is an Australian comedian, known for his confrontational delivery and controversial subject matter. A regular on the UK circuit for more than 15 years, in 2007 he won the if.comedy award (previously the Perrier) for his show 'So I Suppose THIS is Offensive Now'. He lives in Northamptonshire.

Phil won't remember the first time we met, because I was a fan – and it makes him feel old when I say that. I was in Melbourne in 1992, I'd just started doing open spots and I'd been to see Phil's act at a pub gig the night before. They were coming out of their hotel the following day and I went, "Great show, guys!" Phil turned round and shouted "Thanks very much" and I thought, "What a nice chap!"

Then, in 1994, I moved to the UK, first stop Edinburgh Festival. I was living with a group called the Gadflys and the Scottish comedian Phil Kaye who is a really good friend of Phil's. One of the first times we met was when they went to play football one morning. They were getting thrashed when I woke up at home and saw that they'd all gone out to play without me. So I put on my kilt and ran out the apartment, screaming, Celtic warrior-style, all the way down to the meadows. I think I amused Phil in real life, which is why we became friends.

A couple of years later, Phil had nowhere to live so I put him up at my place. He was in a bit of a bad state, post-Edinburgh blues, depressed. He wasn't getting out of bed, wasn't washing. I'd worked on a farm, and one day I came back and the smell in the flat was reminiscent of chemical fertiliser. I dragged him to the bath by his ankles, showered him and gave him a pep talk.

At that point there was a lot of the Aussie still in me, maybe one of the reasons I didn't get on with a lot of people at the beginning was that I didn't really give a fuck about anyone's previous record. The whole point of getting into this job is that you don't have a boss, and sometimes guys who had been around a bit longer would act like they were your boss. Phil never behaved that way so he was able to take my advice on board. And, according to a lot of people, if Brendon Burns tells you you need to get your act together, you've really got problems.

So I got him out of his funk and then turned around and got myself an addiction and hit rock bottom. And then cleaned up, I should say for the record. He has been very nice about it. He was one of the few people I could count on to be supportive.

Phil was always a comic hero of mine and I took a lot from the way he worked. If a gig was dead, he never let the energy drop – he'd do whatever it took to shake the shit out of the crowd. Of everyone I know, he's the least afraid of looking silly. A lot of comics want to be taken seriously and don't see the pure preposterousness of that notion.

Phil Nichol, 45, is a Canadian comedian, actor and singer-songwriter. He began his career with the musical comedy trio Corky and the Juice Pigs, before beginning a solo stand-up career. He was nominated for the Perrier in 2002 and won the if.comedy award in 2006 with 'The Naked Racist'. He lives in London.

The first time we met, according to Brendon, was when he waved hello to me in the street after seeing a gig. I don't remember – Brendon's memorable but he's not that memorable. We met again in the mid-1990s at the Edinburgh Festival. He was living with friends of mine in one great big crazy flat across the meadows and we all used to end up there for some extra-curricular partying.

Brendon was one of those big personalities you get around the festival. He's larger than life, even to this day, but back then he was full-on to the point of annoying people. I found him endearing and we became friends immediately and have stood by each other since.

One of the good things about this industry is that we are allowed to remain children, and Brendon is one of the biggest kids going. He comes across as being a brash, abrasive person, but that's a deliberate facade. If you know him, you know that he's one of the most gentle, compassionate and generous people you'll ever meet.

There are different ways of approaching comedy and our entire friendship group has become known for a style that discusses subjects from obtuse angles and Brendon certainly has led the way in saying the unsayable and then rationalising it to the audience to make them think about it. It's the last bastion of free speech, because it's the one place you are allowed to say things you don't mean.

We all inspired each other. There are lots of people, especially nowadays, who get into comedy to become TV presenters – there's nothing wrong with that, but there are other comedians who want to entertain and enlighten. Of all the people I know, Brendon – even when he was being the whipping boy for comedy critics for being loud and stupid – has maintained his focus on achieving respect for his style. It has come slowly but it's happening for him and that's just through slogging away.

Brendon's had difficult times – as have I – but I don't judge my friends, ever. It wouldn't change the way I feel about him if it he turned up off his tits tomorrow. I love all my friends, drunk or high or sober.

Nichol and Burns are both currently at the Edinburgh Festival ( ). 'Fear of Hat Loss in Las Vegas' by Brendon Burns (Bantam Press, £10.99) is out now
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 21, 2010 7:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Brendon Burns is on fire
Dave Freak talks to comedian Brendon Burns about writing, religion and career overkill
Nov 21 2010
Wales On Sunday

IF Brendon Burns’ book Fear Of Hat Loss In Las Vegas reads like it would make a great movie, that’s because its author hopes it will be. “I wrote it with a film in mind,” says the fast-talking Aussie who appears at Cardiff’s Glee Comedy Club this week.“I’d like to write the script for the film, or write it with someone else, or I might just sell the rights,” he adds.

Published last summer, Fear Of Hat Loss In Las Vegas: Crisis, Chaos And Stand-up Comedy In The Nevada Desert to give it its full title, has all the ingredients for a cracking bad taste buddy movie. When best mate and fellow comedian Barry Castagnola is dumped by his fiancé, Brendon, Barry, Barry’s dad Keith, and comedian/actor/movie-maker Paul Provenza plan the ultimate road trip. Cue vast quantities of booze and illegal substances, along with gun-toting lunatics, bar brawls, swearing, gambling, women and UFOs, as the deranged quartet try to find happiness and redemption in the US of A.

“It’s all about living your life as a movie, kind of like Hunter S Thompson in Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas. We all have these weighty ideas when we start these things, but it’s really just about getting messed up,” says Brendon of the tome, which Provenza is now enthusiastically “handing out to his movie producer mates to try and get turned into a film”.

There’s no concrete deals yet, but Brendon’s already thinking about casting.“Who would I like to play me?” he ponders. “That’s a real question; it may be something I have to think about if it did get made into a film. I would hope it would be me, but it’s never going to happen.”Though his star is in the ascendency in the US – with well-received TV appearances and a celeb-filled LA residency under his belt – Brendon has due reason to feel un-confident about playing himself given his experience auditioning for Channel 4’s ComedyLab instalment, Turn The World Down.

“I had a part written especially for me, and it was even named after me, but Channel 4 made me screen test for it many times. “They even got all these other comics in and said to them, ‘Can you act more like Brendon Burns?’ And to their credit they all said, ‘why don’t you just get Brendon Burns?’ which they had to do in the end,” he laughs. “You know, I have gone for the part of me before... and never got it!”

Hailing from Perth, Western Australia, and inspired by such comedians as Richard Pryor, Brendon began making a name for himself in the UK in the early ’90s, eventually winning the main Edinburgh Fringe comedy award in 2007. Famed for his plain speaking, his career is littered with controversy, from walking off live TV shows, to handing out magic mushrooms to Glastonbury goers. He’s also had a breakdown, and ended up in rehab, but his fondness for controversy continues with his new touring show, Y’Know Love ’n’ God ’n’ Metaphysics ’n’ Shit.

“The origin of the show goes back to before me and my then girlfriend split up, when I was a different man, which I was in the last year of that relationship. “I did a lot of other people’s thinking for them, and the only way to be true to any belief is not to force anyone into believing it.” From the starting point of the relationship breakdown, Brendon brings in failed sexual encounters, racism, quantum physics and religion – or rather atheism.“Atheism is branching into fundamentalism. Atheists have got a figurehead and they’ve got a book, which people agree and disagree with, and run hogwild with,” he says, of Richard Dawkins and his The God Delusion. Horrified by how God is evoked in the US – “American politicians daring to speak for God!” – Brendon sees atheists and agnostics as guilty of “so much bull”.

Surprisingly, given Brendon’s outrage at US politics and religion, there’s a good chance the tour will find its way to US TV screens next year as well as gaining a DVD release. “It’s a good time,” he says, adding that he’s pleased to be back on UK TV as host of ITV4’s FHM Stand-Up Hero, a talent search for the UK’s best new comic which culminates with a £10,000 prize final at 9pm on November 30. “I have a book out, a tour, and a TV series – I’ve never been so close to overkill before in my entire career!” he laughs. “This level of overkill would be lovely for the next 10 years – that would be great.”
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 27, 2010 7:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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