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Talking Heads -

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(generated from captions) I just got up and talked. what you did. And I just thought that's I was a stand-up comic. And then somebody told me And so I had a name for what I was. And I used to make things up I was improvising. but then people told me And...now people tell me and confusing. my shows are disjointed

But somebody soon will tell me that I'm scatological. in all that too. So I'll have a purpose that generations X and Y Well, every day we hear the baby boomer generation, are different from of which you and I are part. Do they want different...? Do they laugh at different things? I think in the essence, no. But the references change. Comedy...not only comedy,

something in common with people. but the arts are about finding And often as a performer, in common with people is breathing. you sometimes think all you've got together now is mass media. But what brings people And particularly, television. So a lot of comedy now

television last night or last week. is referring to what was on or "Have you been to that movie?" Or, "Did you see...?" Well, let's have a look own first giggles came from. at where some of your Oh, OK. (Chuckles) a hippopotamus for Christmas... # SONG: # I want I'm a child of the baby boom. of any city in Australia You couldn't walk down the streets without hearing, "Boom, Waah, Boom!" There were babies flying everywhere. land in your arms and you'd go, You'd just walk along and one would I'll bring it up as my own. "Bugger it, there with the sheep." "I'll put it over It was a very caring time. suburban Melbourne I was born in outer and it was quite rural. My father worked in Fitzroy in a metal-polishing factory. So we moved into Coburg as a tram conductor. and he took a job

And got hit by a truck and spent six months in traction. a job he despised. Then went back to metal-polishing, all do better than that. And insisted we should woman in a rather risque way. And my mother was a very amusing And my father was a very funny man by all that met him. and very much loved for Christmas... # SONG: # I want a hippopotamus always slightly a loner. I think I was probably and I used to play team sports. And I had lots of friends But I was equally happy on my own. for stand-up comedy. I think I was made hippopotamuses... # SONG: # I only like of a wag up the back of the class. At high school, I was a sort attempt at comedy But my first serious was Architects revues. Probably 1968, I think... ..'69, somewhere around there. I walked on a proper stage, From the first moment I just felt extremely comfortable. were sewn there. So I suppose the seeds I had at University, But the five years were very happy years. getting to the end of third year,

I was also called up. And while I was at University, all-expenses-paid trip to Vietnam. they deferred my of the reasons I stayed. And so that was one and withdrew us from Vietnam. And then Whitlam got in then to leave university. And so I felt free pretending to be a woman. I took the dress off and stopped And got on with my life. encouraging and being encouraged I got into theatre by by other architecture students theatre of the Pram Factory. to put on a show in the back

to coincide in the early '70s And that just happened restaurants being opened. with the first theatre SONG: # Some day he'll come along # The man I love... # mutual friends at university. I'd met Mary through In 1972, we got married. changes your life. Getting married always your life is children. But what really changes for many, many months. Our first daughter was very ill She slept only in a car but we couldn't afford a car. So I had to wait for friends to come around at 3am in the morning. and then they'd drive us But there are still people a pusher down Lygon Street who remember me pushing and four in the morning at two and three trying to get her to go to sleep. MAN: Many people believe as I do, stand-up comedian in Australia. that Rod Quantock is the best place - the Comedy Cafe. Now, he's got his new

the important thing. We owned it, that was people who didn't put on good food. We were sick of working for other Have a banana, have a banana. Have a banana, there you go. do when they have babies. That's what the male primates Have a banana, there you are. I'm a father.

How are you going to fill the hall? Have you got advance bookings? Oh, people, mainly... LAUGHTER show here called 'Tram'. We had a very successful to get a new show. And then we had three weeks we hadn't written anything. And with two days to go So one of the waitresses said, "Why don't you do a show on a bus?" on to the bus now, please. Thank you, make your way Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. here at The Dorchester. Mini Tour A, the mens toilets Do you wanna take it? It could be yours. Well, then, take it. Might be mine. Street and it's yours. Take it back to Russell into just a group of people Ultimately, it turned who don't know where they're going know they're coming. to visit people who don't Ah.. of the interesting things... Now, Rob, one I'm just getting used to my life! (Laughs) Hang on. Isn't that amazing? If you wouldn't mind. We can play more of it later.

of that for years! I haven't seen any and married Mary Kenneally. Now, as we saw, you met and I was doing Architecture. Yes, she was studying Law directing the Architects Revue. But I was producing and And she was the first non-architect the Architect's Revue. to perform in And Mary's deal was that she'd only do it if she could wear a wig. So I said she could wear a wig.

so she had to do it without a wig. But we couldn't afford wigs ever trusted me since. And I don't think she's And you were married in '72. So it's been a long-term collaboration,

both personal and professional. Yes, well, we work together but separately. I worked with a group of... ..as many as seven people when we began. The running order was always... Rod's spot, Mary's song, then the name of a sketch. And then Rod's spot and then a sketch and then Mary's song. So I don't feel terribly comfortable onstage with other people. Because I lose my relationship with the audience, if you like.

I can't hear the audience if there's somebody else on stage. You can't hear the audience - what do you mean by that? Well, if I'm there by myself I know everything that's going on in the audience. I mean, that's not literally true

but I know enough about what's happening in the audience. I know whether they're laughing as much as they did last night. And "Could they laugh more at this? "Are they finding that sort of joke funny or that sort of joke...?" I edit it and change it as I go. What do you do with that? If you find they're not laughing at what they laughed at last night, what options does that give you? Bad night? Well, I did a one-man show at the place we owned, the Comedy Cafe... And I'd been doing the show... I ran it for about four months. I'd been doing it about a month and it had been going really well. Then I had five nights in a row where nobody laughed. I mean, literally nobody laughed for five nights. And at the end of that, I was almost suicidal. I mean, I'd tried everything. I'd come at it from different angles. And then the next week they started laughing again. So what do you draw from that? (Sighs) Oh, people are mad. They can't be trusted. I shouldn't have sold them tickets. But, no, you can... I found myself at different times being able to work out tomorrow's shopping list while I'm performing. It's really quite bizarre what happens when the relationship between you and the audience

is running so smoothly. And because you've been doing it for four weeks or eight weeks or however long a long run is, you can actually be doing it, responding to the audience and thinking, "Now, I've gotta drop the kids off for school. "On the way back I'll pay the rent and then I'll get some milk." So you can do that. But stand-up comedians, because of...the very fact that they're there on their own, have a rather special relationship with the audience. And what you're doing is... I'm saying something, I want you to laugh. And if they don't or they don't laugh as much or differently,

then you think, "Well, they're a bit different tonight. "They don't quite like that sort of humour." So more particularly now, I'll do a show, say... I don't know, in a comedy venue that has eight people on a night, where the average age is in the mid-20s. And my average age now is in the mid-50s. So culturally, we don't...

In terms of what they watch on telly and what I watch on telly, what I read in the newspapers and what they read in magazines,

are worlds apart. So I spend the first five minutes just fishing to see what I can talk to them about, yeah. We saw the bus. Yes. You became famous for the bus. I did, yes.

And you explained a little bit of the background to it. Which was that it was the suggestion of someone that was working as a waitress. Yes, Sylvana. What was it all about though? I mean, why did it work? How did it work? For people that aren't familiar with the bus.

We actually had a psychologist come on it. The '7:30 Report' at the time sent a psychologist on to work that out. And he basically said it let people be uninhibited. And that's exactly what it does. You give them their little funny nose. They're anonymous, they're in a group. All responsibility is with me, not with them. And I just open doors to them and say, "Well, you can now be silly. "Or you can misbehave or you can trespass." So people loved it. And I mean, most people are in some way quietly repressed.

The rubber...chook. Mmm, Trevor. Yes. Yeah.

Introduce us... Tell us again about Trevor. Oh, Trevor... I don't know where... I mean, I know the evolution of Trevor. And Trevor comes from those flags that tour guides hold up at the foot of Mount Fuji, when there are 700 buses arriving at once. And you've gotta look for your numbered, coloured flag. And before we got the noses, or I got the noses into the show, I actually couldn't tell who was on the bus and who wasn't. So the chook became their way of finding the way back to me. But we'd sometimes go out with 45 people and come back with a bus with 60 or 70 people on it that we'd just picked up along the way. It mustn't have been a bad party.

So the noses became a sort of ticket. And that way I could tell who was with us and who was against us. Well, television became your next big medium. Let's take a look at that. Oh, OK. OK, good morning, class. Settle down, everybody relax. Hey, you, the exchange student. Stop eating the desk! Through ABC Education we did 'Magic Bag' and 'Words Fail Me'. So we learnt a bit about writing and performing for television. And then Mary and myself went to Sydney to make a series called 'Ratbags' for Channel 0 as it was then. Mary, with her character Debbie, made an extraordinary hit in Sydney. And we became the first comedy ever produced by the ABC in Melbourne. SONG: # Australia, you're standing in # Standing in it for Australia. # What Tim is actually doing, right... ..is a very excellent workshop of a confrontation situation with a telecommunications hierarchy, right? Look, can I speak to the fascist in charge, alright? Excellent. ROD: The thing we were proudest of was that it was the first time that women had actually been equals in comedy. So it was a very significant break for women. And in one half-hour, more people saw us than had seen us on stage in ten years. So that was very nice. The ABC wanted us to do some more programs. But there were only four of us who wrote them. I probably ended up writing...40% of it because I didn't do much of the acting. I just did my little spot. OK, so we put in three tired British comedy... ..and a tired new variety show. And we toss in a few ABC pretzels. LAUGHTER And...just making a laughing stock of the ABC. LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE In the end, working on television, you work so much in it and you do it every day. And you're seven days a week thinking about it. There is no other world. And that's why television often gets very self-referential. The price is right. So the four of us were just exhausted. And we said to the ABC we'd like to do a few specials. And the ABC said, "No, we're not interested in specials." So we just drifted back into the world. And that's when, as a group, we really split. After 14 years working as an ensemble. I needed money 'cause I had a family. So I went and just became a solo performer. Oh, my God! She's got third degree custard burns! Where did you get your influences from? Because everybody is influenced by everybody else, aren't they? Um, no. (Laughs) But in your case? I grew up with radio comedy. And I grew up with Australian radio comedy which... Which is largely dead now. Entirely dead, really.

I mean, there's some funny things on radio but I don't think... They're not meant to be... Alan Jones, I think, doesn't realise how funny he is. But there were commercial comedy programs on in the '50s and '60s that I remember. of 'The Naked Vicar Show' Well, I think which was in the early '70s too. of 'Life with Dexter' and... No, but I'm thinking 'Yes, What?'... Greenbottle and co -

Oh, 'Guess What' which is... Yeah, yeah. 'Yes, What?'. possibly the funniest radio show 'Yes, What?', which I think is ever produced in the world. Fantastic comedy. But television... And done from Adelaide. and the show - And then Mavis Bramston Graham Kennedy, all those... Gordon Chater, Noelene Brown, with Digby Wolfe, I remember 'Revue 61' who then took the idea to America and started 'Laugh-In'. So there'd been that tradition. And obviously, Kennedy... Graham Kennedy did comedy. British humour too? British humour, especially, yeah. American? No, I like the Marx Brothers and I like WC Fields.

After that comedy died. So what don't the Americans get? Or why is it different? They have no sense of irony. They think irony is something you get from the tusk of an elephant. And they have no concept at all of irony. I've never been. a broad generalisation. I mean, I'm making that don't become me but... And exhibiting degrees of prejudice I never responded to. It's just something American stand-up comedy.... is very much about the moment. And stand-up comedy in America... So if you're not living I remember watching Bob Hope American politics through him. and learning about But not laughing at it,

the prime...president was. just learning who of Defense was and so on. And who the Secretary And pay checks are worthwhile things to have if you're in... Yes, they are. ..comedy or in the arts. Or if you're acting. Yes. And Capt'n Snooze certainly provided that. And with any bed set sold, you'll get a free sheet set! There's a lot of things about Capt'n Snooze that were good

and a lot of things that were bad. And the regular income was very beneficial in terms of raising a family. The Capt'n Snooze factory bedding clearance...

get up to with a mattress but... It's amazing what you can Many mattresses. those, it was very uncomfortable. There was a pea at the bottom of Unbelievable. It ran for 17, 18 years... I think only Stuart Wagstaff cigarettes had a longer run. who was advertising And I came within three years record for Hertz Rent-a-car. of beating OJ Simpson's an achievement. So yeah, it was quite you lost the contract for that? Is it true that in the end a public figure around some protests It coincided with you becoming around Albert Park in Victoria. Yes, I don't know what part played in all of that. my political activities I tried while I was doing Capt'n Snooze to be responsible. Because it's a franchise so every store owner basically is just a mum and dad

who've invested their life savings in starting up a business. Did that put pressure on you? No, no, no. Never had any pressure on me. At one stage, I was hosting or emceeing a rally down in Albert Park against the destruction of the park. And the imposition of a... Grand prix. A dollar-sucking grand prix.

And I was photographed with other people on stage. and put in the 'Herald Sun' commercial radio and said, And somebody rang local on there protesting... "I saw that Capt'n Snooze

from them again." "I'll never buy a bed there goes the contract." And I thought, "Well, But they said... say anything really. Well, they didn't

good relationship with them. I had an extraordinarily with was probably the most... And the man who I dealt and decent person He is the most ethical

my professional life. I've dealt with in Well, your connection with corporate Australia continues to this day. So we should have a look at that. (Laughs) Yes, a vexed relationship. I'm a celebrity. I get involved in politics. You pay a price. I went to the World Economic Forum. And I was beaten up by the police there. The police said that me and the other people there had nuts and bolts. They had potatoes with razor blades in them. They had...urine-filled balloons. LAUGHTER Urine-filled... Now, look. I've tried... LAUGHTER I have tried. to tell you how painful this is. And girls, I cannot begin LAUGHTER

exam for al-Qaeda... That's the entrance in the best that people can be. I have an intense interest in the evolution of society. And I have an intense the world isn't perfect. I don't understand why

that really confounds me. And that's the thing MAN: Please welcome Mr Rod Quantock. a very poor suburb and very tough. I grew up in Coburg, which was Any kid with two ears was considered a sissy when I was growing up. The first corporate thing I did was almost 30 years ago. The community of business is often, in my mind, tainted by the behaviour of business. The individuals in it you take on face value. So often I'll refer to their industry critically. And occasionally I'll refer to national politics as well. But in the main, I'm engaged to add a light tone. (Laughs) This is my dream come true really.

I'm here in a sea of young people secondary college in Melbourne. at an outer suburban on the history of mathematics, And I'm here to give a talk which began as a hobby and sometimes a burden. and now has become an obligation I knew what I wanted to be. When I was your age, And I wanted to be an architect. Now, architects design buildings. small, it'll bend and crack. If he puts in one too And the roof will fall in. And you'll all DIE. their children to school to die. Now, not many parents send BACH FUGUE AND TOCCATA of my shows here at Trades Hall. I've done eight did the first theatre show here. And I think I'm the person who And now it's become a venue for alternative theatre of all kinds. And I like it here because you bump into workers. And they call you 'comrade' and it's very, very good.

Stand up. I didn't ask you your name. Trevor. Trevor! I used to have a chook called Trevor... ..on a stick. Now, your name? Oh, Brody. There's a generational gap, isn't there? Trevor... Brody. OK, now, Trevor, stay just there. a little sign here. Now, Brody, I've written It says 'the crime'. Brody, I want you to take that and pin it on the businessman. No, no, that's resting. No, just pin it on him. Pin 'the crime' on the businessman. No, he can't hold it. No, that's very... Just pin 'the crime'. No, that's stuffing. No, I want you to... Just pin it on him! Just pin 'the crime'! BRODY: It can't be done. Just... Thank you. "It can't be done." You can sit down. more than being on television I still like being onstage or any other place to be,

except perhaps the golf course. place for a comedian. The world's a wonderful if you don't have any power. And it's a horrible place But I don't change the world. I'd like to, but I don't. That's it, that's basically it. of thing I do, you know? That's the sort isn't it? (Clears throat) Silly, really, (Laughs) It IS a nice line. It's a nice line, isn't it? Well, I was going to say that. So true even today. the essence of it, isn't it? Being silly is Um...part of it is, I think. been to be nothing but silly. I mean, my dream has always I prefer to call it. 'Nonsense' is what And I'd love just to be nonsensical. a wonderful thing to be. I think that's Did you see it as therapy? the people that come? Mass therapy for Look, the response people give me for being a public voice." is often, "Thank you Particularly now around issues like, and the war on Iraq. I suppose, refugees I'm not the only public voice. But there were periods, around the Kennett Government, particularly in Victoria a significant public voice. where I was And so people take heart from that. I mean, the world's... And Australia at the moment and depressing place is a really stressful got any sensitivity for anybody who's to the sufferings of others. And any sense of our history. And our culture. the other way, hasn't it? So much comedy's gone become not political observation That comedy has but social observation. And the observation of families, and the absurdities therein. And when it's done well like 'The Simpsons' or 'Seinfeld', it's just fantastic. And I'd love to be able to do it. I'd love to be a renaissance comedian, if you like, with the capacity to do all of that. But as I said earlier, my interests are politics and economics. And more latterly, I suppose, the history of civilisation, if you like. That's a big topic. What is it that really fires you up? Oh... I hate people taking advantage of other people. And I hate people taking advantage of trees and fish and birds and bears and whatever. I hate people exploiting other people.

That's the thing that offends me the deepest and makes me the angriest. It's fascinating when you... As we saw, you're working with kids. Does that give you joy and...? Oh, kids are... A sense of connection, sense of hope? No, kids are fantastic. But I think kids are much more burdened by the world than I was. Much more conscious of the problems of the globe than I was. I mean, the big issue for me when I was growing up was... The Cuban Missile Crisis is the first really significant thing that made me think I could die tomorrow at the hands of an utter and complete stranger. And that's a scary thing to think about. And I think kids now are perfectly aware that the water will run out. The timber will run out, the oxygen will run out. Everything is going to run out. Whether it's true or not, that's what they think. If those messages are around in the world so much, what about hope? Has comedy got a role in actually giving people hope? I always try and finish on an up note in my shows. Most people leave my shows terribly depressed. But I try and end... Yeah, I think there is hope. And the hope lies in people. And I meet through all that I do the most extraordinary people.

I mean, really heroic people. People who are little in the scheme of things. But brave, heroic, hopeful and determined people. And most inspiring, make me feel very, very small. And a bit of an upstart and a usurper. But that's the hope. You've always been an upstart and a usurper. Yes, I have. But the hope is in people, you know? And getting to people... I think my contribution is, to those people, I give them a night out that is both for them relevant and amusing. And on that hopeful note, we'll say - thank you very much for coming in. It's a great pleasure and thank you for reminding me I had a life. (Laughs) Next week on Talking Heads... Mr John Williamson. JOHN WILLIAMSON: People were always saying, "Don't go changing." And "Thanks for making us feel proud to be Australian."

And all that sort of stuff, which is the best compliment they can give me. JUDY TIERNEY: Tomorrow night on Second Opinion.

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