Since ditching his career in chemical engineering, the British-born, Melbourne-based comedian Jeff Green has made a living by making people laugh. For the Rock With Laughter event at The Star this month, Green promises “a broken-down version of my Sydney Comedy Festival show [All Guns Blazing!], which I did live at the Comedy Store – this will be a more succinct version of it I expect, plus all the new ideas I’ve got rolling around my head.”
Green insists that living in Australia has changed his work for the better (he’s now a permanent resident). “I think I’m a better comic now and one of the reasons for that is that there’s a mania often, an energy in UK comedy rooms, which tends to mean that you have to keep feeding the audience jokes, which is fine, but I feel like I’ve got more time onstage to explore things, which is making my stuff a bit more interesting.”
His comedy is very much grounded in his everyday experiences. “My stuff has always been about my life, and it’s about being authentic to an audience and so I like to bring the audience into my world … I don’t write surreal jokes, I don’t write necessarily satirical, political jokes; a lot of my stuff is in pointing out the everyday nuances and minutiae and giving it a twist for the audience,” Green says. He explains that his material comes from “stuff that I find frustrating, stuff that I find that makes my mouth drop open – anything where there’s emotion. My best jokes come from a visceral connection with an event that I think, ‘I wonder if other people have experienced this?’”
We delve further into this sort of everyday speculativeness when I ask: if Green were a kitchen appliance, what he would be? “I’d be a mortar and pestle,” he answers. “I like to mix things up. My wife would probably say that’s my debating skills – sort of bashing until I get a result, in a verbal way. Also, I’ve got a thing about mortar and pestles – I used to have a joke about them about getting one for my wedding present and just wondering what people thought I wanted, who they thought I was, whether they thought I was Merlin.”
While he’s worked across various media – television, radio, writing and stand-up – Green readily admits he has a steady favourite. “Always stand-up. Stand-up is by far the best thing you can possibly do. It gives you everything: it gives you a buzz, it gives you a sense of worth, it’s a creative outlet, it’s why anybody who’s anybody wants to be a great stand-up. It’s raw, there’s no props, there’s no sets, there’s no actors, it’s just you and a mic and the audience. And all the applause is yours, and all the booing is yours too, if it comes down to it. There’s that immediate adrenaline rush – in fact, I haven’t done a gig now for a couple of weeks and I’m getting… I just feel like whatever it gives me, an endorphin rush, I’m missing and I’m starting to get a bit anxious that I’ve got to get back onstage. It’s like a physical dependency.”
Catch Jeff Green at Rock With Laughter alongside Mikey Robins, Jackie Loeb and Dane Hiser at Rock Lily, The Star on Thursday August 28 and entry is free.