Interviews

INTERVIEW: Ronan Freeburn of Vulture Culture

Interviewed by: Frank Stillman


This year’s edition of the Perth Comedy Festival, kicking off on April 22nd until May 15th, is set to be the most ambitious and spectacular version yet. As always, local comedians will be bringing their own shows to the stage along side rival interstate acts and big international names as well. Today we’re gonna have a chat with Ronan Freeburn who, as part of Vulture Culture, is presenting three different shows (‘Australia’s Funniest Shorts’, ‘Comedy Virgins’, and ‘Next Gen Comedy’) at the 2016 PCF.

 

1. We’re talking today mostly about the three comedy shows Vulture Culture are producing for the Perth Comedy Festival, and we’ll make sure to cover them, but first I was hoping to get a brief rundown on how involved Vulture Culture is in the Perth comedy scene? Some of our readers will have no doubt heard the name on a poster as part of “Vulture Culture presents…” etc. but for those who haven’t, what have you guys been responsible for?

 

We’re definitely a part of a healthy Perth/W.A. Comedy scene, although we kind of answer to ourselves and aren’t overly influenced by what other groups are doing.

 

We’ve been promoting Comedy in Perth since 2009 and that encompasses monthly comedy clubs in Perth metro and South west, creating and managing festivals, curating a national comedy film festival, plus corporate bookings that help comics pay the bills.

I’d say we’re probably most known for Rottofest and Freo Royale (Fringe World in Fremantle program).  We’re not resting on our laurels and we wanna keep pushing forward with new stuff that will hopefully become equally memorable.

 

2. I have to admit, ‘Comedy Virgins’ sounds like an interesting show, wherein you have various “Perthonalities” do stand-up for the first time in front of a live, paying audience. How the hell did you convince people who normally wouldn’t give stand-up comedy a second thought that this would be a good idea?

 

As much as doing straight Comedy gigs is fun, I also get a kick out of trying bizarre concepts like Comedy Virgins. My aim of it was really to get all those personalities involved in other scenes such as live music, media, art etc – to come and find out what the local comedy scene is all about and get an appreciation for what it takes to be a comedian. I mean if I am having a beer with a Perth music or arts type – these people love Comedy and they check out all the big name alternative and international acts when they come to town. But they don’t see much or interact with the local scene.

 

I am a pretty persuasive individual! I usually approach people with the softly, softly method and explain the concept is not setup for them to fail. But rather – have as good and rewarding a Comedy experience as possible.

 

Given that I socialize with people outside the Comedy scene, a lot of the people I ask already know me as a friend, acquaintance or friend of a friend – so it makes it easy to gain their trust. The top touring comedian Ben Darsow will also be holding a few workshops for the participants so they know the basics.

I did flick an email to Tony Gelati from Spudshed plus those two twin girls who share a boyfriend – no word back from either of those camps!

 

3. ‘Australia’s Funniest Shorts’ is the second show being produced by Vulture Culture, and it’s also pretty cool. We’ve covered it at Rotunda before, but for those too lazy to click on a hyperlink, what can the average punter look forward to at this?

Well the good thing about this upcoming screening is it will be all new comedy shorts from what you saw last year.

Crazy part is I am curating these shorts over the next month – if any of your readers want to enter a comedy short, head to www.funniestshorts.com.au . The Comedy Channel is putting up some prize money along with us so it’s a good reason to submit a short.
The format is 60 minutes filled with comedy short film 3-8 mins and then the punchier sketch format which is anything up to 3mins. I like to think this means as a viewer you never get bored if you don’t like a particular film. There is nothing worse than going to a stuffy short film festival and you have to sit through 15 minute duds.

 

4. Finally, the last show you guys are hosting for the Perth Comedy Festival is Next Gen Comedy: The Search For Perth’s Best New Comic. Unlike Raw Comedy, where the judging is done by a separate panel, Next Gen is judged completely by audience vote. Was “letting the people decide who is funniest” part of the thought process for putting this together?

I like how it takes the backroom politics out of who wins these competitions. It’s put in the hands of the people at the show to judge who they thought was the funniest. The counter argument I hear is oh such and such stacked the crowd and got all his friends and family to vote. I find that everyone has the opportunity to do that so it’s a level playing field. Plus last year the winner Rachel Mills brought like four people to the Grand Final and won based on merit. The MC is very careful to remind the audience, vote for who did best.

 

The Comedy industry puts WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY too much emphasis on these new talent competitions.

 

Think of a band like Metallica starting out …they didn’t win a battle of the bands to become Metallica. They worked hard and honed their craft to make it to the top.

Next Gen is just another fun type of gig and your Comedy career shouldn’t be defined by it. We don’t put too much pressure on the young comics.

 

5. The winner of Next Gen Comedy gets a paid spot at Rottofest, another comedy festival being produced by Vulture Culture. You guys seem really keen on hosting more stand-up events and making Perth a comedy destination. Is there anything more in the pipeline that our readers can look forward to?

Yep that’s correct, a paid spot at Rottofest which returns September 17.

 

From day one, we’ve always had the attitude that Perth is one of the best scenes in the country. Lots of people have played a part in that over the last few decades. I like to think Vulture Culture has made a small contribution to that and still has more to offer.

If you’re readers wanna know what we’re up to – just jump on our website or Instagram.