Playing for laughs – and heckles

Tom Gleeson is challenging Narre Warren hecklers to "bring me down". Picture: SUPPLIED

By Ethan Benedicto

Tom Gleeson will be bringing his comedic talents to Narre Warren for a first-time performance at Bunjil Place on Thursday 7 December.

His new tour, titled Gear, is what Gleeson described as a breath of fresh air from his television endeavours, and was excited to bring new content to Bunjil where he’s keen for some challenges.

“Well, I’m an obnoxious performer so I find that my crowd can be pretty obnoxious too.

“People pay good money to come and try to take me down, and I haven’t had anyone do it but maybe that’s just because I haven’t met the right heckler yet,” Gleeson said.

The tour, which began in early November, is a six-month-long endeavour that spans the whole country and is what Gleeson described to be a great taster for comedy festival goers.

In order to avoid spoiling the performance, he said that bringing audiences on stage would be a big part of the tour.

“I do this at all my shows, but I always invite the audience to tell me what they did or didn’t believe was true at the end of the show.

“I’ve got a bigger bank for my ideas and I’ve been wanting to get these on stage, it’s a thrill to be back out there and doing new material,” he said.

Gleeson is a decorated comedy veteran, and throughout 25 years has performed multiple times across the country at events such as the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Adelaide Fringe and Perth Fringe, where his stand-up shows Joy and Lighten Up won the best comedy award in 2019 and 2020 respectively.

He has also performed internationally, in cities like New York, Los Angeles and London.

Recently, he was also the winner of the 2019 Gold Logie award for the most popular personality on television, delivering a memorable speech on stage.

However, in roughly two decades of experience, his comedic style took a leap 15 years ago, where Gleeson said he “decided to stop caring what people think”.

“I decided to stop performing in a way that was obviously trying to get the audience to like me,” he said.

That realisation changed everything, and the pieces of his puzzle fell into place.

“A lot of comedians are self-deprecating and always trying to say to the audience ‘hey I’m just like you, please like me’, whereas I’ve just discarded the whole act,” Gleeson said.

His cadence became more assertive, and is what eventually formed his performative style that many are familiar with today.

“I mean that’s not an act, that’s just who I am.

“I think I used to pretend to be polite but then I just thought, I’m going to stop doing that and just be who I really am and that’s when things took off for me,” Gleeson said.

In 2016 Gleeson began hosting Hard Quiz, which he continues to do so today.

He is also the main host of Taskmaster, which aired its first episode on February this year.

When asked if heckling him was something audiences could look forward to during the show, he agreed.

“Yeah, maybe someone’s going to end my career in Narre Warren,” Gleeson said.

The show will be held at Bunjil Place Theatre on Thursday 7 December, 7.30pm. Tickets: