Eddie Ifft

Eddie Ifft is back in Melbourne for the Comedy Festival. To pass the rigorous Festival entrance exam, he answered a few questions for Beat.

Tell us about your upcoming show for the Melbourne Comedy Festival.

This year’s show [his second] is about not keeping my big mouth shut. It’s called Things I Shouldn’t Have Said and it’s a compilation of jokes and stories that I have said over the years that have had me banned from radio and TV, fired from jobs, even thrown in jail a few times. 

What thing/person/idea are you most obsessed with at this time? 

Crossfit. It’s kind of a workout cult I am in, that all the military special forces do.. After 14 years of touring, partying and destroying my body, I have decided to clean it up… I still party a little. I got really drunk in Vegas recently, so drunk that I walked out of a nightclub at 5am and people were going to the Las Vegas Marathon. On a bet with my friends, I ended up changing my clothes and running the race on no sleep and 10 vodkas.

Which city has been your favourite to play at (apart from Melbourne)?

I played a place called Prominent Hill. It wasn’t really a city but a makeshift gold mining town in the bush. It was really different for me. If you blind folded me and took me there and told me that we were on Mars, I would have believed you.

A lot of comedians from the USA have had an easier trot these past few years in terms of available source material for them to make fun of.  Does the current political climate in the US mean that you have more, or less comedy fodder?

George Bush made it really easy for a while. There was a reprieve for a while with Obama, but as… the hype around Obama has died down, people have started to realise that it isn’t the politician, but the system … My country and our celebrity culture never cease to amaze me either. We have more people on death row than any other country, but yet we have a whale that is responsible for three deaths at Sea World and he is probably doing back flips for the crowd right now…. It’s not the whale’s fault either. You put me in a swimming pool and make me synchronize swim with a ball on my nose, for fat dumb people, I’d want to drown someone too.

Are you a Winter Olympics fan?

I can’t believe some of the events. The Skeleton? What is that? It’s the event, where they luge downhill on their stomach, head first. These people get to go to the Olympics and call themselves Olympians. I mean good for them, but I don’t remember skeleton tryouts in high school… I’m pretty sure everyone that tries out makes the squad, because there are probably only three people in the country that even do the sport.

Beat Magazine, Issue #1210, March 24th, 2010

Dead Cat Bounce

Dead Cat Bounce – the musical comedy band from Dublin – are making all kinds of waves during their trip to Australia. Call him a trooper, I spoke to bassist Shane the day after the group discovered all the gear from their Adelaide venue had been stolen ten minutes before they were due to go on. “I’ve spent the day getting new equipment and filling in police reports so this is a bit of a break,” he told me over the phone. 

Is this your first time in Australia?

“I was here once back when I was ten, but this is the first time we have the opportunity to really explore the place, and we’ve been reading up. I don’t know if you’ve seen photos of Damien [drums], but he’s the most ginger man you’ve seen in your life, he burns instantly. Luckily it’s been pretty overcast lately.”

Despite a string of sell out shows, their trip seems to have formed a pattern in terms of luck; “Yesterday I woke up with a huntsman beside my face.”

Any other encounters with wildlife? “We went to one of those wildlife parks, and we saw this emu running around, kicking the kangaroos and chasing people. As we were leaving we said to one of the keepers, you know, ‘Should you really have that emu running around like that? It’s pretty vicious,’ and they just said, ‘the emu’s escaped again!?’”

The four members of Dead Cat Bounce met at Trinity College in Dublin, finally deciding to combine their comedy and band experiences after they became housemates. Their break came with their first gig, which comedian Will Ferrel just happened to be in the audience for. “It was a very weird experience, he walked into the room and the tone just changed. [The audience] were watching for when he laughed, and they would laugh even more. The next day we got a development deal with Irish Television.”

Dead Cat Bounce are an amalgamation of two great loves, comedy and rock ‘n roll. “A lot of what we do is the big eighties hair rock, taking the excess of various genres and making it fun and interesting and different. Our show goes from 80’s hair metal to barbershop to hip hop. We’re like The Muppet Show really, but bigger, and we try and make each night a bit different.” After the massive amount of buzz from Adelaide, is there anything special in store for Melbourne? “Well, we heard it was an amazing city for music, and we were planning on having a go at one of our ‘Bootlegs’, a live band mash up set that we do. It started out as a party piece, but now we’re asked to do it all the time. The last one was of Back in Black with You Oughta Know by Alanis Morrissette. We set up outside on the balcony of our venue in Adelaide, brought all the PA’s and speakers out, but we were shut down by the police fifteen minutes in.” Very AC/DC.

Beat Magazine, Issue #1210, March 24th, 2010

Blak Nite Cinema

Though the weather has, so far, proven to be slightly less hellish than last year (fingers crossed), Melbourne seems to be taking greater advantage of the long, slow outdoor evenings in the city.  Moonlight Cinema, Rooftop Bar, if we can get outside to while the night away we’re a bunch of happy Melburnites.  Blak Nite Cinema taps into this community of outdoor antics, coupling nighttime frolics with the ever-growing appreciation of Indigeonous cinema that has in the past couple of years been heralded by the release of award-winning Samson and Delilah and musical romp ban Nue Dae.  Bringing together film, music, and food, the free event (sorry, did I forget to mention it was free) will screen a combination of shorts and features by up and coming Indigeonous film makers. 

This is the second year the festival has run, starting off as an initiative run by the City of Melbourne’s Indigeonous arts program.  Although the presence of a short by Warwick Thornton (Samson and Delilah), and one of the nights being hosted by actor Aaron Pederson are certainly trump cards for the event, the emphasis is also on supporting up and coming directors and filmmakers in the industry.  Speaking to Dena Curtis, writer and director of film short Hush, she is filled with praise for the initiatives that have helped her start out as a filmmaker.  “The Australian Film Council (now known as Screen Australia) and SBS had an initiative called ‘Bit of Black Business’, where thirteen, five minute dramas would be workshopped and screened on SBS.”  The result was Hush, a short film about two aunties who seemingly meet up to play cards with each other.  Instead, one of their daughters finds out, they’ve been running a phone sex line.  “The idea popped into my head when I was watching tv with my brother.  Those phone sex ads came on and I started thinking about my aunties and what they talk about when they meet up together, they’re very rowdy and don’t really have any shame.”

Hush is Curtis’ second film, originally travelling through the short film festivals throughout the 2007/2008 seasons to wide acclaim, winning awards at the Independence Festival, as well as the Créteil International Women’s Film Festival.  The film is unusual in its focus on older women, their need for independance as well as an expression of sexuality.  “As a certain age the roles are reversed between parent and child, and some of the film is about the battle over that swop.   Older people aren’t useless at all, and they want their independence, but this film is also about how they can still behave like kids.  Parents think sex is the naughtiest thing possible for their kids to talk about.”  Ethel and Mary are played by veteran actors Marleen Cummins and Barbara Auriel Andrews, one of the first female indigenous singers to make her mark.  “The other good thing about casting Marleen and Auriel was that they’re old friends, so they weren’t really shy about talking about their sexuality.”

Hush is part of a pattern for this year’s festival, that of indigenous filmmaking set in a more urban environment.  Kirv Stenders’ Boxing Day, a quiet, desperate film about Chris, an ex-con trying to host a post Christmas dinner for his niece and brother’s ex wifeis set amongst silent suburban houses that don’t seem to notice, let alone react to the chaotic revelations that are going on inside ex-con Chris’ house.  Mad Morro, a documentary directed by Kelrick Martin, traces the story of James and his impending release from prison, returning to the family home of his mother Debbie in Taree, and a hard slog of readjustment to life outside gaol.  “It’s important to depict and urban indigenous life.  For a long time people have perceived indigenous people in a certain way.  Black people have the same experience as everyone else, they love, they lose, they fight, they drink, they smoke.  It’s important to have stories that reflect that, that expand the idea of what indigenous people want.”

Beat Magazine, February, 2010