• Julia Wilson

Zen and the Art of... Stand Up Comedy

I never had any plans to be a comedian. I worked as a truck driver, pizza deliverer (thanks Mimmos), and as an accountant for a while, then I put myself through music school. The whole time I was doing those jobs I was a bouncer in local pubs. It was a rough job, but I loved it. I got to see live music most nights and I'm pretty handy, so breaking up brawls was second nature.

After work one night at The Fishos, necking staffies, spinning yarns, I was telling my mate a story about how I chucked some stupid punter out that night. I thought I was just chatting with my bud next to me, but realised the whole room was listening. The story got big laughs, even though I wasn't actually trying to be funny. The Fishos crew were super supportive (unlike the nuns of the school which now occupies the location and constantly told me that no one had to hear my smart mouth, and that I’d never amount to anything. I’ve got news for them, and a few eggs to suck and middle fingers to twirl on…) and encouraged me to do stand up. I loved watching stand up. It got me through some horrible times, but I was petrified if I tried it and I sucked that my one escape would be ruined and gone forever. The Fishos’ manager at the time (who is still one of my best mates and business partner in Desire Books & Records) and I were drinking at the Basement. There was a poster for RAW comedy on the wall - the competition that’s launched a heap of Aussie comedians. He made me promise to sign up.

I agreed, drunkenly. The competition had already started, and I assumed I'd be in the following year, meaning enough time for him to forget about it. Nup…I woke up the next morning with a giant hangover to a phone call saying I’d be performing in a fortnight. What?! I made everybody who’d ever told me how bloody hilarious I was and that I should do stand up freaking comedy to come to my house and demanded they tell me every single thing I'd ever said that was funny.

A fortnight later, I won my heat, made it through to the semi-finals, which was my 3rd ever gig. Strong start to the making people laugh career path, and looking back, thank God I didn't make it to Melbourne for the RAW Comedy National Finals. That would’ve meant performing my 4th gig in front of a 1000 people at Melbourne Town Hall and an ABC audience of the entire country – yeah, people used to watch TV back then. I reckon I might’ve choked like Greg Norman on Tiger’s Big Bertha, but who knows.

People ask me if comedy's hard. My reply is always the same, I used to drive trucks and get punched in the face for a living. What’s the worst that can happen doing stand up? They don't laugh. I'll take that every day of the week! And I have for 18 years now. Pretty funny.


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