Comedians Damian Callinan and Mickey D will be visiting Sydney’s west this week for Road Trip, their new travelling comedy show. Theonly problem is, they haven’t written it yet. As unconventional as it seems, this is Road Trip’s raison d’être – to base an entire show on a town as they arrive.
The concept makes sense for Callinan, who’s accustomed to travelling the land telling his jokes. “There are certain kinds of comedians who really take note of where they are when they’re touring and turn that into the material, and Mickey was one of those and so was I,” Callinan says from Ballarat, another of the tour stops. “We’re fairly competitive beasts so it turned into a competition to see who could do what we called ‘local colour’ for as long as possible, so that’s kind of how it started. I think we were on [the Melbourne Comedy Festival’s] Roadshow in Bathurst and we said, ‘What if we did a whole show just about the town?’ When we came up with the idea of a camera crew following us we really thought, ‘OK, this could be a thing.’”
Unlike the age-old comedian’s tactic of injecting titbits of local knowledge into their stand-up – for example, ripping on the local shithole – Road Show promises to delve well beyond the surface level of a place and find the hidden gems that lie beneath. The results are filmed, making up a large section of the finished product.
“The show is pretty much entirely based on surveys that we send out to the community,” explains Callinan. “Rather than just flicking through tourist brochures, we ask the real locals questions, which can involve anything from tourist sites to actual local issues.
“We also ask people to set us challenges. For instance [in Ballarat], a couple of challenges that we’ve achieved, most locals would never have done, which makes them curious about their own town I suppose. Ballarat is famous for its beautiful historic towers so they asked us to try and get into as many as possible, and we cracked nearly all of them, even though it took getting through a lot of red tape. For one of them, our poor tour coordinator had to sit in the car for 50 minutes doing an online safety induction on our behalf.”
Callinan is excited by the scope for improvisation. “Because of the nature of the show, we’re pretty much doing it as we roll up into town, so it has a real sense of immediacy to it. We have to constantly explain ourselves to people and ask questions like, ‘Can we just come in and be idiots in your shop?’” He laughs. “Most people are really good about it, though. In the bigger towns there’s a lot more red tape, but in a tiny two-horse town, if you want to get into the historic museum you ask Barry if he’s got the key and he’ll finish his cuppa and come and open it for you.”
Don’t be fooled by the hastiness of the planning and production, though. An astounding amount of care and quality goes into each show. “About 40% of the show is live clips and they’re quite extraordinary,” says Callinan. “Our cameraman was up until 4am last night editing. The production value is probably what blows people away the most. They’re expecting us to just talk about the town but when we reveal the extent that we’ve gone to with filming and editing they’re really impressed.”
Road Trip featuring Damian Calinnan and Mickey D comes to the Riverside Theatre in Parramatta on Saturday June 28.