THE YEAR THAT + QUIZ
Ihad been living in Perth for a few years in 1990. We moved there in our mid-20s, young and freshly married. But my marriage split up. There was another person involved, who was a mutual friend. I learned that when a marriage dissolves there are definitely two sides to the story. She got a lot of grief for being involved with someone else but I just said: “It wouldn’t have happened if we’d been strong at the time.” Not that I let that stop me taking all the sympathy that came my way.
The break-up was actually quite banal. There was a discussion where we said: “We don’t have any kids — shall we just separate?” And I moved into another bedroom.
But it was a catalyst to make me re-examine my life. I was working as a computer analyst programmer for the mines department in Western Australia.
“We don’t have any kids — shall we just separate?”
I had already discovered Theatresports, which began in Perth around then. After going along to an introduction they had, I went back to my wife and said, “This is amazing. It’s what I want to do.” I didn’t know many people, so I signed up to perform with a team.
But when I went along on the Sunday night they had replaced me. I was just devastated. I think I actually cried. I’d never looked forward to anything so much.
When I did I get my chance, I seemed to be really good at it. Every Sunday night at the Fly by Night in Fremantle, we’d put on a bit of a show. I was computing all week and doing that on the weekend.
We also started up a comedy club over there as well, so I was obviously gravitating towards that. I’d done a little radio in New Zealand but it was hard to get into that in Perth not knowing people.
But one day I was sitting outside having my lunch and I just decided: “That’s it. I’ll give up my computing career, take a 60 per cent pay cut and go back to writing ads at 2XS in Palmerston North.” Once I’d made the decision it only took a couple of calls to get an offer from a good friend back in New Zealand.
I kept in touch with my computing friends in Perth who later made a lot of money with the millennium bug. But if I missed out on making the good coin, I was a lot happier back at radio.
There is a link between computer people and comedy. When I was at Massey and did my first onstage silliness in the capping review, 80 per cent of the people in the show would have been computer science people and the other 20 per cent would have been the arts students.
When I was in computing, I just wanted to fool around but now I’m a comedian I actually enjoy doing a bit of computing.
Once I went to a job in Perth where the only desk was in a back room, on my own. I was massively productive and they thought I was wonderful. Then they moved me into an area with other people and after a week the boss came to me and said: “Do you think you might be a bit of a distraction?”