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The Comedy Zone

 

Every year Melbourne International Comedy Festival scours the country for the best of up and coming talent and invites a select few to appear in a showcase. The Comedy Zone for 2011 brings together Jennifer Wong (NSW), Daniel Connell (ACT), Luke Heggie (NSW), Henry Stone (QLD) and Ronny Chieng (VIC) under the talented tutelage of Justin Hamilton. We spoke with Henry Stone, creator of Youtube sensation, Jaydos (who will also cameo in the show).

For Stone, there are many highlights to being a ‘zoner’. “Performing every night for the duration of the festival is pretty great. Getting an artist’s pass, getting event invitations, getting festival club spots - the festival seems to look after its Zoners. Also, not having to compete with televised racing for the attention of the audience (as you often do have to at pub-based open mics) has got me giddy with glee and giddiness,” he says.

Each year, the Comedy Zone is directed by an experienced comedian. Stone explains, “The legendary Justin Hamilton has taken the director’s role for our show. I use legendary for both its meanings - he's been performing since I was getting busted for not wearing a hat in the playground and also, the guy is a mad dog. A cool cat. A rad bro. A legend. We spent time working together while he was in Brisbane and now I'm counting down the days until I arrive for the festival and the direction resumes.”

 

Seeing Stone performing as Jaydos on Youtube, you’re left wondering how close reality the parody is. “Jaydos is the extreme version of a lot of young males who leave high school and go straight into trade apprenticeships,” describes Stone. “He works in the sun all day and lives for the weekend, or anytime when he can abuse his disposable income by funding huge substance binges at music festivals. He is a massive hedonist and the kind of guy who would have a crack at someone who used the word hedonist for being too smart. As the self-appointed king of the worksite and the king of the festival, Jaydos offers tips to his internet watching fans on how to party in the most epic ways possible.”

Regardless of how accurately Stone, as Jaydos, recreates these personas, he’s clear his aim is not to glorify them. “I started performing Jaydos after always going to festivals and seeing these buff, singlet-wearing dudes cause havoc. I think it was born out of a pretty scathing attitude that I had after going to succession of festivals where the young crowds just seemed to be there not to watch the performers, but to all participate in a competition called Who Has The Most Abhorrent Behaviour? The first couple of videos were of Jaydos reviewing cultural works that normally wouldn't be embraced by someone like him - the nature documentary BBC Life for example. I think I then quickly dialled back the negativity and found a more satirical approach to reflect on this area of our national youth culture. Mostly I just like calling myself a satirist,” he says.

The Comedy Zone happens at Trades Halls’ Old Council Chambers from March 31 – April 24. It’s at 8.15pm Tuesday – Saturday and 7.15pm on Sundays. Tickets are $18 - $22.50 and available through Ticketmaster online, 1300 660 013 and at the door.