Interviewed by: Luke Hickey
Q1. The 2016 edition of Fringe World will showcase (among others) your debut solo show, ‘Sex, Lies And Videogames’. No doubt with a title like that you’re sure to attract a few interested punters who haven’t seen a Jez Watts show before. How would you describe your act?
By turns genuinely clever and exceptionally dumb. I do a lot of dirty stuff, but not just for shock value – I just find ‘clean’ comedy boring. Up until recently I’ve been a neuroscientist alongside comedy, so there’s one bit that tricks the audience into learning an actual science lesson. It’s also super funny, but I stand by the science in it. I actually named the show 6 months ago – a better name would probably have been “Sex, A Bunch of Drug References, Some Other Stuff, And One Joke About Videogames” but that doesn’t really roll off the tongue the same way, and I just thought I would write way more videogames stuff. There’s funny jokes and a bunch of stories of me being a dummy in various contexts.
Q2. And on that note, who do you take influence from in comedy?
Big question. Obviously there’s the greats – your Carlin’s, Bruce’s, Hicks’. Your Patrice O’Neal’s and your Mitch Hedberg’s. Of people working today I think Ari Shaffir (This Is Not Happening, Ari Shaffir’s Skeptic Tank) is my spirit animal. Stewart Lee, Greg Fleet and Big Jay Oakerson are in my top 10.
Q3. In addition to your own show, you’ll also be appearing in other Fringe acts such as ‘Comedians vs. Rappers’ and ‘Darren the Explorer: The Musical’. Any Fringe favourites of yours or don’t-miss acts that people should watch out for?
I mean, there’s loads of cool stuff in the festival. R Kelly’s Stuck In The Closet With Sam Cribb is going to be supercool. Sam was just voted the best comedian in Perth by the community, and I’ve seen him working out the concept for this show at Infinite Jest. It’s gonna be amazeballs. Also I’m really excited about The Nasty Show. There’s big names performing gross stuff, alongside really funny locals – Xavier Michelides & Greg Fleet both doing the first night. Everything I’m in is great, obviously.
Q4. You’re also responsible for Infinite Jest, an experimental comedy night running every Monday at The Flying Scotsman. What have been some of the best experiences/acts you’ve had in your time hosting?
It’s been such an awesome time running the show. We’ve been around for 2 years now and just got voted best room in Perth. We do a different experiment every show with a really talented comic – throwing them into the deep end of some comedic challenge. Just weeks ago we had Sean Conway do “Punchline“, which has been modeled after the improvised standup challenge “Set List” (where a bunch of previously unseen topics/phrases are projected behind the comedian and they have to make up material about it on the spot). Our version of it has morphed over time into a really personal take, where we use all the stuff we know about that comic to personally set up an almost roast of them. My favourite part of the set was when Sean went off on a rant about how “big words are dumb” because I knew there was a slide later on which literally said “I Hate Big Fancy Words”. When the audience saw that come up they lost their minds. Probably the coolest thing we do is every 3 months we have every comedian in Perth get up to do 3 minutes of completely untested material at “50 First Jokes”. Every time that happens it’s an incredible night. The first time I headlined I took my pants off at the start of the set. That was fun. I’m sure this Fringe will make new memories. Apparently Brendan Burns will be doing the show this Monday, which is super exciting.
Q5. Finally, you’ve already supported some fairly big names in your comedy career thus far, including Duncan Trussel of the Joe Rogan Experience podcast and Joe Mande (Parks and Recreation, Brooklyn Nine-Nine). Anything else on the horizon we should watch out for?
Yeah, I’ve been super lucky. I’m actually opening for one of my comedy heroes in April. Brian Posehn. He’s been in everything, since I was a kid. I remember liking him when he played “Kevin the mail guy” in Just Shoot Me. He was on Mr. Show and The Sarah Silverman Program, and his podcast Nerd Poker is awesome. He also co-writes Deadpool, who’s my favourite-est superpowered dude ever. He’s a really great standup. Hell, he was in The Comedians of Comedy, and this is his first time in Australia. Everyone should go see him.