More than a stand-up
FEW people can squeeze a humorous story out of thin air, but Melbourne comedian Dave O’Neil seems to do it with ease.
His attention to detail, quick-wit and an itch to push boundaries have helped him build a 20-year career as a leading Australian stand-up comic, TV personality, radio host, actor, and film writer.
While stand-up has long been his bread and butter, he acknowledges that a career as an Australian comic demands diversity.
“In Britain you can get away with just doing stand-up, but over here you end up doing a lot of bad-paying lunchtime gigs at TAFE colleges,” O’Neil says bluntly.
His chameleon-like adaptability is reflected in his recent guest appearances on Network Ten’s The Circle, which is hosted by four female Australian personalities.
“They were talking about leopard-skin underwear and I started to fall asleep,” O’Neil says.
“They’re a good bunch of women though. I’ve actually worked with Denise Drysdale (one of The Circle’s permanent hostesses) before.”
The Australian comedy industry is a community where eccentric personalities connect with like-minded people.
O’Neil refers to it as his “social life”.
“When you see other comedians you tend to get on well with them because you’re all trying to do the same thing,” he says.
O’Neil raises the curtain on some uncomfortable topics that the average person might understandably hide.
“I recently got a vasectomy, so that’s given me some good material,” O’Neil says confidently.
“I just tell stories from my own life – my kids, childbirth and fat camp.”
Also becoming somewhat of an expert at creating humorous stunts to further his career, O’Neil ran as an independent candidate in the 2007 federal election for the Melbourne seat of Gellibrand.
“I got more votes than Family First and the Democrats put together,” he proudly tells Pulse.
“A lot of drunk people voted for me.”
Yet O’Neil believes politics remains a dangerous topic for comedians.
“People get sick of it,” he says. “I got some good material out of Julia Gillard though. I even turned up to her house once but she wasn’t there.”
Consistent as he is adaptable, O’Neil has appeared on ABC’s Spicks and Specks 48 times (more than any other guest), highlighting his ability to repeatedly generate laughs. In the mid-90s he performed at Ballina RSL alongside Eric Bana and is excited about returning tonight to entertain punters once more.
Melbourne comedian, Dave O’Neil, performs at Ballina RSL Thursday, July 28, 8pm.