“I do like that idea of the audience seeing you grow.”
Simon Taylor: Epic
The Toff in Town
Reviewed Sunday 18 April
No stand-up comedian has had it easy over the past two years, and Simon Taylor is keen for his people to know. “I’ll never take a crowd for granted again,” he says as he closes the show.
He certainly didn’t. Playing to an appreciative gathering of about 40 in a large room he had packed out the previous night, Taylor brought the love with the affable, bouncy energy he typically exudes, especially when embarking on one of his story-time routines.
Freshly married and full of beans, Taylor repeatedly hit home with a solid set that included a lovely spot of mimed magic, some amusing, if somewhat lengthy, poetry and the travails of being a reluctant wedding planner.
His satirical edge proving as sharp as ever, he hit a peak with a killer bit about radio hosts, reserving his deepest bites for FM commercial presenters and their habit of howling with laughter at every conceivable opportunity.
Taylor’s travels across America are the focus here, his proven ability to paint vivid portraits with words in full flight as he takes us through his experiences with theme parks, Greyhound buses and the cross-section of colourful Americans he commuted with across the Wild West while trying to make a flight to take him back to his ailing grandfather.
It wasn’t exactly a tough room, yet Taylor was clearly working hard to keep the crowd on side. And they were.
Though there weren’t as many laugh-out-loud moments as we typically get from a Simon Taylor gig, he kept the vibe from ever dropping below titter level with a strong, breezy, chiefly anecdotal show that, unlike his trek across America, had a smooth run before a receptive, if somewhat muted, crowd.
Long-established as a fixture on the Comedy Festival program – this is his 12th MICF – Simon Taylor finds himself better able to manage the stress that comes with the ebb and flow of performing, no longer getting grumpy when his rooms aren’t full, or his audience isn’t as boisterous as they usually are.
After signing copies of his debut novel One Night Stand and children’s book Sally and The Magical Sneeze (both published by Larrikin House), Simon Taylor retired to his far-flung dressing room on the top floor of Curtin House to discuss the gig, his comedy and various other matters.
These include his upcoming Opera House show, how he keys in to the vibe of an audience each night and what part luck has played in his comedy journey thus far.
Famously, Taylor landed a writing gig for American talk show titan Jay Leno when he was 24, a job he landed through pure happenstance. He has also written for Shaun Micallef, Comedy Central and Netflix.
He is now looking forward to being a life-long beneficiary of the greatest generator of comedy material – marriage.
Though he says he will be mindful of how much he’ll reveal – “I think, generally, I’m a prude,” he admits – he believes the permission he has granted his new wife to paint a naked portrait of him should earn him some license.
Simon Taylor interview index
00:00 Assessing the gig and which way the energy flows;
01:04 Not taking audiences for granted after the last two years;
01:40 No longer grumpy;
02:10 12 MICFs in, does it get any easier?;
03:00 Better at “killing my darlings”;
03:55 When he knows where the crowd is;
05:10 Nutshelling his CV; Jay Leno, Shaun Micallef;
06:10 Writing endeavours;
07:00 “It doesn’t feel like work when you’re really excited about it”;
07:50 How big a part luck has played;
09:15 Comedy God – does he believe?;
10:20 Working out how long he’s been at it;
11:10 What justifies the risk of being a career comedian?;
12:10 Opera House gig;
13:00 Diversity – is it still an issue?;
16:08 Importance of supportive local comedians;
17:30 Classic comedy influences;
17:50 George Carlin;
19:20 Bill Cosby; Peter Ustinov; Michael Birbiglia;
20:45 Joan Rivers;
20:52 Talk show influence; Johnny Carson; David Letterman;
21:20 Sacrificing gags for story;
22:50 One Night Stand novel; “Painful” writing process;
25:10 Second novel; Exclusive – The Hidden Power of Parker Ray King;
26:25 Marriage as a source of material; “I do like that idea of the audience seeing you grow.”
27:55 “I think, generally, I’m a prude.”;
28:45 Team Rock or Team Smith?; “I’m Team Mental Health”;
29:30 Using his Italian heritage a tad more;
30:52 Pre-comedy jobs;
31:20 Making a living out of comedy;
32:00 Bonus content.