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Standing up for laughs

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Standing up for laughs

This year’s Sunshine Coast Comedy Festival shows from Caloundra to Noosa will feature a star-studded line-up on stage. And funnyman Tommy Little can’t wait to get us chuckling out loud.
WORDS: Caitlin Zerafa.

“Comedy is the most honest of art forms. If people are laughing, you have done it well and if they’re not, then you haven’t.”

They are the words of one of Australia’s best-known comedians and presenters – someone who’s eyes were opened after watching a comedy tape as a child.

Tommy Little was amazed to learn comedy could be a career path.

Fast forward to today and Little is soaring, set to land on the Sunshine Coast for a world-class event.

Non-stop hilarity – that’s what is expected when some of the big names and funniest stand-ups in the business converge on the region for the Sunshine Coast Comedy Festival next month.

From November 10-13, a star-studded line-up will be performing more than 30 shows in 15 locations across the region.

Now in its third year, the festival brings internationally renowned, multi-award-winning artists telling their best side-splitting jokes. Little tells My Weekly Preview he is excited to be invited for 2022.

Recalling the exact moment he fell in love with comedy, Little says he was instantly captivated and evidently it changed the course of his life forever.

“The first time I saw stand-up comedy was an old Eddie Murphy tape,” he says.

“I was amazed, ’cause I’d never seen someone standing there talking and a whole room laughing before. I started watching all the Melbourne Comedy Festival galas growing up and I loved it.

“I got into acting first and I sucked at acting. Then I met a comedian and I said I was thinking about doing comedy.

“He told me to give it a shot and that I would either love it or hate it. So, I did a gig and I fell in love with it instantly and I haven’t stopped since.”

Little has created his career with a unique way of storytelling, bringing aspects of every life alive through a comedy lens mixed ingeniously with often taking the mickey out of his own experiences. While he is a regular face on The Project and a daily fixture on the Carrie and Tommy Radio Show, Little says stand-up is his bread and butter and his “happy place”.

“Stand-up is my soul food and my home,” he says. “It’s storytelling. It’s about my life and a chance for people to have a laugh – often at me.

“Some comedians worry whether the crowd is laughing with them or at them.

“Me? I don’t care. If my miserable life makes you feel better, then I’m completely okay with that. For me, if I can give you an hour of your life where you can forget about everything you’ve got going on, if you forget about all the bills you haven’t paid, you forget about the kids giving you the irrits and you can just sit back and relax and wash it all away laughing, then I’ve done my job.”

Little says his latest show, which he is bringing to the region as part of the festival, has been inspired by his own journey to obtain a pilot’s licence.

“It’s so exciting I’m bringing my show to the Sunny Coast. It’s such a beautiful part of the world – what a gig!

“It’s about getting my pilot’s licence, which nobody thought was a good idea.

“Nobody thought I would be able to do it and now that I’ve got it, nobody will fly with me. So, it’s completely useless.

“I’m just finding as life goes on, I’m doing shows about dumb stuff.

“I’ve done a show about running a marathon in Antarctica. This is a show about becoming a pilot and my next show about attempting to swim from England to Belgium. So, I’m just trying to kill myself slowly for your entertainment.”

Although he has been here before, Little admits there is a lot he has not seen.

“I haven’t explored it enough and I would love to so if anyone would like to send me tips, I’d open to them. My Instagram is @mrstommylittle,” he says.

“I’ve also lost some money at the RSL in Noosa and I plan to win it back when I’m there.”

About the Festival

The Sunshine Coast Comedy Festival will run across four nights and three days at locations from Caloundra to Noosa.

As well as Little, other names will include Cal Wilson, Heath Franklin, Steph Tisdell, Andy Saunders, Sean Choolburra and Ryan Gallagher.

Festival producer Rebecca Chandler says the festival aims to delight locals and attract fans of comedy and the arts
to the region.

“We are committed to our vision to build this event into one of the most prestigious and recognised arts festivals in the country,” she says.

“It’s our aim to create a festival renowned internationally for its unsurpassable comedy standard, warmth, community-focus and pure enjoyment for all that participate.

“Fun, playful, inclusive and accessible, this year’s Sunshine Coast Comedy Festival boasts a rich and diverse program, which truly caters to our rich and diverse community.”

Some highlights of the program will include the highly acclaimed Aboriginal Comedy All-Stars line-up, featuring a cast of Australia’s funniest Indigenous comedians on the back of an award-winning jaunt around Europe and back-to-back sell-out shows at Edinburgh Fringe Festival. It is being described as a “unique, highly informative and wildly entertaining showcase of Indigenous talent and culture”.

Best O’ British is also set to be a crowd favourite. The all-Brit show has been nominated as best comedy show at Perth Fringe World and is widely touted as the most popular international showcase on the festival circuit.

The show will feature award winners Georgie Carroll, TikTok sensation Rory Lowe and host-with-the-most Dan Willis.

This year’s festival also includes galas at NightQuarter and The J Noosa, plus luxury river cruises with a comedic twist with Saltwater Eco Tours Indigenous comedy tours. There will be craft comedy beer tours to a selection of local breweries and late-night comedy line-ups, with Nauti Late Nights at the Nautical.

For tickets and the gig guide, visit sunshinecoastcomedyfestival.com.

Get to know the line-up

Ryan Gallagher

How did you get into comedy? – I’m a bit of a silly country larrikin. Always loved making people laugh, right back since early childhood. I’d been writing jokes for about six years before I finally built the courage up to get on stage and do it. First time I gave it a crack, the feeling I got … I’ve been addicted ever since.

What is one of the best reactions you have had during a performance? – I’ve had some strange individuals in the crowd a few times. I did comedy on coach buses at a festival once, to and from the airport. It was just as (bad) as it sounds.

What do you love about the Sunshine Coast? – If I’ve had a good year and can afford it, I go to a nice place like Noosa. Sunshine Coast is a beautiful spot. I’m looking forward to having a bit of sun, NSW has absolutely poured down the last two years.

Andy Saunders

How did you get into comedy? – I am a proud Biripi man from Taree, NSW. I have been telling jokes to large crowds from the age of four. To clarify, the large crowds were my family but we are a crew of about 80 when we get together. I grew up in a very large Aboriginal commercial fishing family. So, you can guess what type of jokes I was retelling. My grandmother, rest her beautiful soul, used to ask me to tell a joke at family gatherings. I was telling jokes or repeating them in my own way that were way out of my age range. So, it had an even funnier delivery. That was when I got a taste. And when I got a little older, I started doing my own arrangements of street jokes. So, it was safe to say that I was hooked. The art of forcing people to laugh at what you said or did is like a very addictive drug. I will never give it up.

What is one of the best reactions you have had during a performance? – I have had two standing ovations in the past which, I must say, was quite exhilarating. I thought only people who play instruments or sing get standing ovations.

What do you love about the Sunshine Coast? – I absolutely love everything about it but my family has not been and I can’t wait to show them around. We all surf and we are a very active bunch so we will explore every square inch of the joint.

Ivan Aristeguieta

How did you get into comedy? – My mum is a psychologist and she treats people with ADHD. She says I don’t have it but one day I was walking down the street and there was a very funny hole in the ground. I was very distracted and wasn’t paying attention to the road. I walked two more steps and I went inside the hole. That’s how I fell into comedy. A bad diagnosis from my mum.

What is one of the best reactions you have had during a performance? – Snorts are always great to hear in the crowd. They are so funny, reactive, involuntary and beautiful. When I hear a snort in the crowd, I feel as if someone blew me a kiss.

What do you love about the Sunshine Coast? – To breathe warm tropical air through my nostrils.

Steph Tisdell

How did you get into comedy? – My mum is a psychologist and she treats people with ADHD. She says I don’t have it but one day I was walking down the street and there was a very funny hole in the ground. I was very distracted and wasn’t paying attention to the road. I walked two more steps and I went inside the hole. That’s how I fell into comedy. A bad diagnosis from my mum.

What is one of the best reactions you have had during a performance? – Snorts are always great to hear in the crowd. They are so funny, reactive, involuntary and beautiful. When I hear a snort in the crowd, I feel as if someone blew me a kiss.

What do you love about the Sunshine Coast? – To breathe warm tropical air through my nostrils.

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