AS SHARP OF TONGUE AS HE IS OF WARDROBE, THIS STAND-UP IS BRINGING SMARTS BACK TO COMEDY.
WORDS JAKE MILLAR PHOTOGRAPHY TIM ASHTON STYLING OLIVIA HARDING
In August 2014, Joel Creasey was on stage in New York. It was a big deal. Not only had he just received a five-star review for an earlier show, but he was also opening for Joan Rivers – his comedy idol. Creasey introduced the legend and retreated into the wings, but she was having none of it. “Joel Creasey, get back here!” yelled Rivers, before pulling out his review, reading it aloud and demanding the audience book tickets to his remaining dates. “Now,” she said, turning back to the young Australian, “Get the fuck off stage!” Creasey’s remaining shows sold out. We meet the now-26-year-old backstage at the Sydney Opera House, where he’s appearing in the TV special Just For Laughs. He’s often on air – The Project, Family Feud, a 41-day stint in the South African jungle for I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here – but stand-up will always be his first love. “I still get a kick out of being on TV,” he says. “But I love stand-up, and I’ll never give that up. My ultimate hero has always been Joan Rivers. From the moment I could start understanding stand-up comedy, I immediately fell in love with her.” The Perth-raised, Melbourne-based Creasey wanted to be a comedian from the age of 15. His first gig came the following year in the country’s most prestigious open-mic competition, Raw Comedy.
“Once I got that first laugh, I thought I could do it for a living,” he says. “It’s addictive. I was way off being paid, but nothing feels better than a room full of people laughing with you.” It was also around that time that Creasey came out as gay to his parents. It was more of a practical move – at 16, he was too young to attend gigs without them, and he was planning to discuss his sexuality in his act. “It was such an anti-climax – my Dad was like, ‘OK, cool.’ And my mum goes: ‘No worries. We’re having pasta for dinner.’ It was so disappointing.” In person, Creasey’s friendly and chatty, but onstage, he unfurls an acid tongue – targeting celebs, ex-boyfriends, even his own management. Still, he’s harshest on himself, with hilarious tales of hook-ups, break-ups and various other humiliations. “I’ve never written a joke in my life. All my performances are stories. I hope my live shows are like having dinner with a sassy friend... Fingers crossed outrageous things keep happening to me.” He’s not likely to run out of material. Creasey’s Instagram feed is a mixture of travel, gyms, more travel, and what could politely be called B-list celebrities. They’re his favourite kind. “I’m obsessed with all the Real Housewives,” he says. “If you’re at the Logies, hang with them – you’ll have more fun. Anyone winning
“IT’S ADDICTIVE. I WAS WAY OFF BEING PAID BUT NOTHING FEELS BETTER THAN A ROOM FULL OF PEOPLE LAUGHING WITH YOU.”
a Logie? Boring. I was on Shane Warne’s table this year – I’d much rather be there than with 800 Words. I’d drink myself stupid.” That earlier New York performance was significant. Not just for Creasey – it would also be one of Rivers’ last. Two weeks later, she fell into a coma during routine surgery and never woke up. “I kept telling people she’d be fine – she was the toughest person I’ve ever met,” recalls Creasey. “I was on the treadmill at the gym in LA and the news of her death came up on the TV. I was devastated. Of everyone I’ve met in the business, she was the most humble. I’ve seen Australian celebrities with really extravagant tour riders, but hers was so old school – one glass of house red wine and a prawn cocktail. I thought that was just so cool.” Sharing Rivers’ legendary work ethic, this year Creasey performed well-received routines in New York, LA and Montreal, appeared on TV countless times and is currently writing a book. “[ Joan] told me to not say ‘no’ to anything. And I try to follow that as much as possible.” As for the future, he has somewhat large plans. “World domination,” he states. “But if I had to quit comedy, the only other thing I’d do is be on The Real Housewives.” We can all dream.
Left: Wool suit, $1945, by Paul Smith; cotton-blend shirt, $239, by Sandro at David Jones; satin ‘Majestic Diamond’ bowtie, $165, by Le Noeud Papillon.
Wool pants, $1945 (part of suit), by Paul Smith; acetate sunglasses, $360, by Prada; vintage robe.