TWISTED HU­MOUR

Jon Bell is pre­pared to live and die by the skit show sword but hopes Black Com­edy will find an au­di­ence ready to look beyond colour

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - TV - ANNA BRAIN

It’s ei­ther funny or it’s not. That’s Jon Bell’s at­ti­tude to his new skit show, Black Com­edy. The writer and per­former isn’t in­ter­ested in “po­lite laugh­ter, be­cause it’s made by in­dige­nous peo­ple”. He com­pares the sit­u­a­tion to an episode of Se­in­feld.

“You know when his den­tist con­verts to Ju­daism? Jerry goes to his Rabbi, who asks ‘Does this of­fend you as a Jewish man?’ and Jerry goes, ‘No, it of­fends me as a co­me­dian’,” Bell says.

“I think it’s a lit­tle bit like that. I’d like us to be gen­uinely funny, or gen­uinely not. Live and die by the sword.”

Bell’s con­ver­sa­tion is pep­pered with bib­li­cal ref­er­ences, which he says comes from be­ing the kid who sat in Sun­day school and asked a mil­lion ques­tions. This in­quis­i­tive ten­dency led to one of his favourite char­ac­ters, Hezekiah, who quizzes Noah as he pre­pares to build his ark.

“Like, ‘Are you go­ing to sub­con­tract that? Not putting you down. Just say­ing, you’re not re­ally a home handy­man’,” Bell says.

“It’s a nice lit­tle twist on the fact that Noah has to go and build this huge ark. I like the idea that it’s slightly emas­cu­lat­ing him.”

Bell grew up in north­ern NSW, and started to study law in Syd­ney, but quickly found it wasn’t for him.

“What I prob­a­bly wanted to be was on LA Law,” Bell says. “I did a year of uni, hated it, and then I got into per­form­ing arts.

“Then I went home to look after my daugh­ter, and I sort of raised her as a sin­gle dad. I couldn’t do any per­form­ing arts stuff be­cause I had to have a nine-to-five and be a re­spon­si­ble dude. So that’s when I got into writ­ing. I’m com­ing back into the per­form­ing arts now.”

Bell’s flair for writ­ing drama was firmly es­tab­lished with The Gods of Wheat Street and Red­fern Now. He says he be­came “the funny guy” by ac­ci­dent.

“I’ve put scripts to Screen Aus­tralia, se­ri­ous ones, and said, ‘Or, I can make this one about two brothers whose car broke down in a fast food drive through’. And they’re like, ‘Why don’t you do the funny one?’ I don’t know how I be­came a funny guy.”

Black Com­edy has cameos from Matt Day, Jeff McMullen, Deb­o­rah Mail­man, Sacha Hor­ler and Brooke Satch­well.

Jon Bell (front right) with per­form­ers from his new skit show

Black Com­edy.

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