The first time I saw Paul McDermott was on an episode of Doug Anthony All Stars (DAAS), and what he was singing made me cover my ears with embarrassment! I was a young, naïve teenager at the time, but instantly hooked on this charismatic, over the top, sardonic man.
Since DAAS, Paul has starred in Good News Week, Strictly Dancing, The Side/Show, and the televised Melbourne International Comedy Festival (MICF) Galas and Debates.
Paul McDermott spoke to Australian Stage's Anna Locke about his upcoming solo show, Paul Sings, touring to Perth for one night only as part of the Wild West Comedy Festival and then to Brisbane, Newcastle and Canberra.
What can audiences expect to see (and hear) in Paul Sings?
A few beautiful songs and a bit of chatter... these two elements will combine to create a deep spiritual connection with each and every member of the audience, culminating in a flood of warmth that will nourish even the cruelest heart until the end of days. Fingers crossed.
The performance showcases songs from previous shows you have been involved in. Is there a possibility that we will hear new material as well?
These songs were written and recorded for a number of TV shows (The Side/Show, GNW, Debates, Galas, etc). Most were only ever performed once and under extremely trying conditions.
When we went back over the material we found a treasure trove of songs that had never been performed 'live'. We thought it remiss of us not to allow them a second life. So, this show is a living thing, constantly evolving and there's more than a possibility of fresh meat, young blood and new material.
(Although, this 'new material' will be captured by some shaky handed lass on their iphone the instant of its birth and sent around the world)
You haven't done many solo shows before (I could only find mention of one). How did Paul Sings come about and what was the inspiration for it?
"Comedyoscopy" – a visceral examination of comedic deceit, was my only true solo show. ("A triumph", "The work of seasoned performer at the top of his game", etc.)
Apart from this one show I have always worked with people, despite my misanthropic tendencies. With "Paul Sings" we've assembled the finest group of musicians, four extraordinary players and friends, just so I never feel alone.
The show came about because for years many people have confessed an intense dislike of my comedy and, in a perversely contradictory way, have suggested I should just "shut up and sing'. This is me giving the people what they want for a change.
As well as songs, the show promises "seriously funny stories" from your performing life. Can you give us a teaser, perhaps one that might not make it in?
Your artwork and poetry is dark and melancholy, bordering on macabre, which is in contrast to the TV witty, funny guy with an amazing voice that most people will see. Do your artistic worlds ever collide?
They never collide although they do collude. Externally, it may seem fractured or diverse, but to me these differing aspects feel like12 sides of the same dodecahedron. From my vantage point I can see no distinction between the differing disciplines. Apart from the moments of madness (see below).
Everyone creates differently. Can you describe your creative processes when developing new work?
It never stops. The voices are always chattering about something. If they are not telling me to rise and paint they are instructing me to scribble, scratch or scribe. The only trouble with listening to the voices is that they never agree and I am easily distracted...
Tim Ferguson will also be at the Wild West Comedy Festival. Are you hoping to catch up? Perhaps gate crash each other's performances?
I caught Tim's inspiring, insightful and very funny show at the Melbourne Comedy Festival. I encourage everyone in the West to see him perform. Unless you've only got enough cash for one show and then, of course, come and see us.
There have been talks about getting Tim on stage with myself and the band for a sing-song, we both have strong memories of Perth from the All Stars days and it'd be good to have a moment on stage. We'll see... (his management are still angry with me over the fire)
There are a few disappointed fans in Sydney according to your show facebook page. Will you be in Sydney at some point with the show?
Sydney and the people of Sydney mean nothing to me. Let them come West if they must. We will welcome them.
You're a talented artist, singer, writer, comedian, presenter... the list goes on. After the Paul Sings tour, what's next on the horizon for you?
I'd like to find a little place in the West, somewhere quiet and remote, perhaps coastal and start strip-mining the shit out of it.
I took a chance and asked Paul a few random, off the wall questions, hoping to he could answer the things I've always wanted to know about him...
What career would you be in if you weren't an artist?
Gina Rinehart's conscience.
What's the worst piece of advice you've ever been given?
You should stay here.
If you could request anything on your rider for a show, what would it be and why?
"Sunshine in bag". (Gorillaz) I'm not sure what it is but I like the idea of it.
Is Google really the unquestioning repository of all knowledge?
No! Google is Borges' Labyrinth. (Literary reference, look it up, brilliant, prescient writing)
The one item that is always in my suitcase when I travel is...
If I competed at the Olympics, my sport would be...
Paul McDermott in
Venue: The Astor | 659 Beaufort St, Mount Lawley WA
Date: Fri 31 Aug 2012
Times: 7pm and 9.30pm
Venue: The Tivoli Brisbane
Date: Sun Sep 9
Times: 3pm & 6pm
Venue: CivicTheatre Newcastle
Date: Fri Sep 14
Venue: Canberra Theatre Canberra
Date: Sun 16 Sep