Ian Bagg performs The Ian Bagg Show
Ian Bagg is no stranger to Australian audiences, but he hasn't visited us for a little while. He's been amusing himself appearing on little television programs like The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and The Late Show with Conan O’Brien. Bagg's approach to comedy is to engage in conversation with the audience and improvise his set. No mean feat, but he makes it look easy.
Your style is quite conversational now - has that always been the way?
“Believe it or not, the very first time I went on stage I had a conversation with audience. I had my jokes written on my hand and was so nervous they had washed away from sweat and I knew I had to do something.”
Taking inspiration from audience interaction is a particular skill - how did you develop it?
“It's just being able to listen to what people say and being as curious about the crowd as they are of you.”
If you had one piece of advice to someone starting out - what would that be?
“Take no advice! Pick your battles, have fun. Most importantly, have fun. Wear solid colours.”
You're often touring… how long have you been on the road? Around how many days a year are you away from home?
“I tour a tonne. I love to find new audiences. I probably do about 44 weeks on the road a year. Before I come to Melbourne I will be in Vancouver, Denver and Dallas and two nights in LA.”
Is there anything you won't talk about on stage - do you have an agreement with your partner about that, or is it all open slather?
“There are things I don't talk about because I don't feel I have the knowledge or I find it boring. I never attack anyone because of physical disabilities or looks. When I started doing comedy in New York, I did shows at Sloan Kettring Hospital. It’s a cancer hospital. I learned right away if you fake it and pretend things are not happening you don't gain the audience's respect. As far as my fiancée... she has never said, 'Don't say that on stage,' but she has asked, 'Must you tell your mother everything?'
You've been to Australia a few times - what's the attraction?
“Actually, Ian Bagg has an Australian passport! My mum is from Sydney and we travelled to Australia a lot when I was a kid. I love the place and am thrilled that I have been able to preform shows in Oz.”
Are Australian audiences different to audiences overseas?
“Audiences are audiences. Of course I will have to catch up a bit on the Australian pop culture. However, people show up because they want to laugh. If you can take them on a trip they have not been on before and make them laugh then they’re happy. There is always that one person who does not laugh and should not be at comedy (ever)... but Australian audiences are Australian: ‘We are going out! We are having fun! There may be some gambling, there may be a fight, someone may get pregnant... but damn it! We are having fun!’”
Ian Bagg performs The Ian Bagg Show at Chapel Off Chapel between March 31 and April 23 (except April 6 and 13). Tickets are $25/$17.50 on Tight Arse Tuesdays and the show is at 8.30pm between Tuesday – Saturday and 9.30pm on Sundays and Mondays. Book at chapeloffchapel.com.au or 8290 7000.