THE YEAR THAT + QUIZ

Jeremy Cor­bett

Weekend Herald - Canvas - - CONTENTS - As told to Paul Lit­tle.

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?”

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