Around this time last year, you might have seen Fabian Lapham on stage as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival with his comedic yin, Michael Wannemacher in their ‘Date Raptor’ variety show. But in 2012, Lapham will be going it alone as part of a pre-festival season short run in his latest show, Reality Can Blow Me. The show will combine Lapham quick-witted cheekiness with ukulele sing-song and sharp one-liners.
Lapham has been hiking various filmic and comedic hills for some time, working much with Wannemacher on projects like the dark and silly ‘Gloom With A View‘ and ‘Mach/Lap‘, but is now going it solo in the Melbourne stand-up arena. Lapham gives a brief insight into what his latest endeavour will entail.
“With my stand-up right now, I’m doing a lot of impersonations of things I’ve made up, so there’ll be a lot of that. I’ve got the corner marketed there, really.”
“I started out with the ukulele not to be quirky or hipster-y. When you see hipsters wearing glasses when they don’t need glasses…well, I felt the same when people who can play guitar play ukulele, because I can’t play any other instrument. It’s not so much a choice as a necessity if I wanna play an instrument.”
With co-comic Wannemacher now in Sydney (not permanently, I am informed, comedy fans), Lapham is making his sojourn alone, though that’s not a bad thing, evidently.
“Yeah, it’s just me. It’s a mixed blessing that he moved to Sydney, otherwise I probably wouldn’t have had the balls to do stand-up. It’s hard to be autonomous and keep driving forward. It can be scary, it was at first. It’s scarier putting on a show by yourself, making sure you get an audience, producing…it’s more of a headache.”
“Dying on stage” is also not a fear for Lapham, whose quick-fire bits, he says, are more conducive to audience engrossment.
“I’ve never been one for long routines, so I’ve been told it’s a lot worse when you’re in the middle of a long routine and you know that they’re not into it, and you’re stuck and you’re can’t pull out, because it looks a bit shoddy if you go, “I’m not gonna finish this story”. I’ve never been tied down by anything cumbersome in length.”
The comedy scene, unlike the acting scene, so says Lapham, is a mixture of both friendly competition and mutual respect and support.
“There tends to be both [competitiveness and support], there’s always gonna be competitiveness, but I don’t think it’s ever in an overly nasty way. I think there is support. When I first started out, I was of the opinion that comedians were a pack of cunts, and I don’t think that’s completely inaccurate, but I’m so especially awkward and naturally petty, after I started getting to know people a bit better, my opinion wasn’t as solidified that everyone was a cunt. One thing I like about the comedian clique, because I come from acting, [is that] they only care if you’re good, whereas actors and film makers, speaking in broad strokes here, generally…if you didn’t go to a school or a class that they respect, then you’re just not as talented as they are. It’s kind of an elitist thing. Comedians don’t care about that.”
“I’ve been writing my own stuff since I was a kid and I’ve always done smatterings of acting work where I haven’t had any creative control over it” Lapham says over the stylistic difference of acting and stand-up. “I was comedy writing for a long time before doing stand-up. I tend to put a lot of my own acting stuff in the show, performance-wise. I’m not myself on stage. It’s not like I’m up there as a character. It’s subtle, but I don’t yammer on like I’m doing now…that’s mostly also as a professional thing. I’m a fast talker and a nervous, awkward guy, so it’s a professional thing so that I don’t annoy everyone. The ‘character’ is essentially me that speaks slower, and more articulated.”
Out the back of a discussion on weird dreams (“Christopher Nolan asking me for my script feedback for ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ but he also happened to be dressed as Batman. He was doing the voice and everything.”), Lapham throws away the idea of garnering ‘shock laughs’, those guffaws of discomfort and awkward sniffles and smirks that comics get when they chuck in dangerous words for dangerous words’ sake.
“I don’t particularly want to upset people. I’m not one of those comedians who goes for shock. Just, sometimes, my dark humour isn’t as universally funny as I hope it would be. I’m not aiming for the shock laugh.”
The state of the Australian film and television industry remains a getter of Lapham’s goat, reignited after the making of the ‘Gloom With A View’ piece.
“I think it’s a high-concept, cartoony idea and Australia doesn’t have a good track record of throwing money at something that doesn’t have a proven formula of working overseas. It’s horribly disappointing, but I may not be here in the country pitching stuff forever. I mean, I’m not one those deluded artists that thinks I’ll magically get famous overseas. The UK has BBC3 and BBC4 and that’s got weird stuff like ‘Snuff Box‘, a show like that would not happen here. People can start on radio and then get a show and we don’t really have radio comedy here, that’s long dead.”
Australian filmic and televisual politics aside, Mister Lapham, famous last words?
“How about, ‘He lived how he died: trying to avoid the steely clutch of death’?”
Fabian Lapham’s Reality Can Blow Me will run at The Butterfly Club in South Melbourne from Thursday March 1 to Sunday March 4 at 9pm (8pm Sunday). Head here for tickets and details.
Also head here for some more of Lapham’s various video goodies.
Words: Lisa Dib