Jarred Christmas

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PostPosted: Mon May 24, 2010 4:31 pm    Post subject: Jarred Christmas Reply with quote

Jarred Christmas
Sarah Kendell finds all her Christmases have come at once as she chats to the charming Kiwi stand-up ahead of his Udderbelly show.
24 May, 2010
by: Sjk

On a sunny 25-degree afternoon, chatting to a friendly Kiwi bloke over a cold drink as the warm breeze blows in through an open-plan roadside cafe, one could forgive this Australian native for thinking she's back in Sydney. And as much as I at times despise the Antipodean stereotype, comedian Jarred Christmas certainly seems to embody all the best bits of it. For one, he's affable – just as we meet up, he spots a mate coming through the entrance too, and stops to chat warmly with him for a few minutes before excusing himself for our interview. For another, he's got that masterful way about him of being able to take anyone with a case of overinflated ego down a peg or two – and it seems no B-grade celebrity is safe.

“I really enjoyed letting the evicted housemate know that Michael Jackson had died on Big Brother's Big Mouth,” Christmas says, referring to his stint on the live chat show last year. “I didn't plan to say it, he was just banging on about how it was such a shock to be evicted from the house, so unexpected and all that. I just went, 'Don't worry about it, mate. Oh, by the way, Michael Jackson's dead.'”

To some, the comment was a cause for outrage – Christmas was subsequently heaped with internet abuse from Jackson fans and even called a particularly nasty name in the street by one overzealous devotee. But to most, it's another example of the winning combination of good-natured goofiness and razor-sharp wit that's won Christmas much acclaim in the circuit. His upcoming show at Udderbelly Festival was the Guardian's comedy pick of the week in Saturday's Guide, and after being nominated four times, he finally took home the Chortle Award for Best Compere earlier this year. “It was really good,” Christmas says of winning the award. “Any award is good because it's an acknowledgement that the hard work you've done for something has paid off.”

But it hasn't always been sunshine and roses for the likeable expat. Arriving in the UK back in 2000 as an uninitiated youngster with a mere two years' experience on the tiny New Zealand circuit, Christmas says his “naivete got me through shit day jobs and gigging for free at night.” He admits it took him a good few years to hone his act enough for the more discerning British audiences. “When I started, I was just talking about weird shit, because I hadn't lived,” he says. “Moving over here really taught me to start writing about life experience.” Luckily since, as we all know, Britain is the country where the nerd is king, Christmas' arguably geeky interests began to play well with his audience. “I was spending a good 10 minutes talking about Top Gun, The Neverending Story, Transformers – just shit that I was really into,” he says.

Still, Christmas endured some tough crowds in the first years of his comedy career, including one particularly brutal heckle in Croydon. “I was about five minutes into a 20 minute set,” he recalls. “There were about 150 people in the audience, and I just wasn't getting anything off them. Then a guy just shouted out, 'You have ruined my birthday.'” Though he acknowledges the brilliance of the call now, Christmas admits it destroyed his confidence at the time. “Looking back on it, I find it hilarious, but at the time I didn't have the wherewithal to just laugh about it and go, 'Yeah, fair enough.' In 2003, I really didn't know how to deal with that.”

Like many comedians, Christmas has also had something of a spin-off career in acting, with a starring role in BBC2 sitcom The Persuasionists earlier this year, but he admits stand-up continues to be his main passion. “With stand-up, you get that immediate response. You know within seconds whether what you've said is funny. The freedom of it appeals to me – you're saying your own words, doing it how you want to do it.” It definitely seems to be a style of work that suits him – now one of the most sought after acts on the circuit, Christmas's new Edinburgh show is going to be all about his journey to become confident in himself as a person and performer. “It's called Jarred Christmas Stand Up, and it's basically just going 'This is what I do'”, he says. “I've spent 12 years doing stand-up and I'm not going to hide the fact that I've spent that long trying to become really good at what I'm doing.”
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