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Making laughs with Mel Buttle and Nick Earls

Mel Buttle and Nick Earls believe finding funny can mean drawing on their own humiliating moments. Photo credit: Cath Piltz

Mel Buttle and Nick Earls believe finding funny can mean drawing on their own humiliating moments. Photo credit: Cath Piltz

Young, comedic go-getter Mel Buttle (Triple J, Courier Mail) and seasoned author Nick Earls (48 Shades of Brown, The Fix), didn’t hold back when sharing their experiences at the New Philosopher Marquee about nightmarish situations, epic failures and pushing boundaries.

When session chair Meg Vann asked about his methods to determine what is ‘funny’, Earls said he draws on his most traumatically humiliating moments to bring the laughs. He recalls a time during an important meeting where the household cat decided to join him in the bathroom. There the feline found his male behaviour fascinating. However, he says that when he transferred the experience to paper, he decided the worst case scenario would work better rather than the reality of the cat remaining dry.

Buttle, who started doing stand-up comedy at 24, walked us through her process of ‘finding funny’. She said if it doesn’t get a laugh after three separate trials, it’s not funny.

“It’s full on,” she said. “You take the recording home and then have to either drink or eat your self-esteem back, whatever works best for you.”

In response to a question about different types of hecklers, Buttle admitted that sometimes they make the show even better; giving the performer and the audience in an enhanced excitement that anything could happen.  But it’s a different story when a hen’s night party discovers an open mic comedy night has interrupted their “cock-spangled” celebrations.

Earls suggests that it often pays off to just throw everything you’ve got into a performance, saying that you might get at least a third of the audience cracking up, no matter how displeased the other two thirds are.

When asked what subject matter they wouldn’t touch, both comics seemed to have trouble finding an answer.

“It’s about how you dignify a person before you make fun of them that makes it okay,” said Earls.

“It’s never the things you expect either, you can be throwing out touchy race and gender stereotypes all night and someone will come up to you offended about a gluten-free joke,” said Buttle.

Want more? Nick Earls’ new book is Analogue Men  and Mel Buttle writes Mel’s Blog.

Bridie Tanner is a  media student at Southern Cross University.

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