Alasdair Tremblay-Birchall spent his teenage years in Tathra and went to uni to become an engineer.
After working in the industry for a few years, he decided to swap steady, profitable work for life as a comedian, creating his first Melbourne Comedy Festival show in 2013 – and he hasn’t stopped since.
And the secret to having a show at a comedy festival? “I’ll tell you the secret,” Alasdair says, lowering his voice, “it is unbelievably easy. You have to be able to come up with $550 to register plus pay your nightly venue hire. So the secret is that you have to take a financial risk and be stable of nerve.”
In his 2019 Comedy Festival show, ‘Magma’ with collaborator Andy Matthews, Alasdair and Andy returned to their engineering roots, giving a fake presentation on how mining magma will solve all the world’s problems.
Even if you’ve never seen Alastair’s work, you’ve likely been exposed to his gags. In between stand-up shows, he works behind the scenes writing jokes for television shows like Shaun Micallef’s ‘Mad as Hell’ and ‘Talking About Your Generation’.
“I treat it like any other job, like being a plumber,” Alasdair says of his television work. “The only thing is that I’m trying to unclog society.”
But there’s no such thing as a steady paycheck and Alasdair has had to get used to “scary gaps” in between bouts of work.
Still, Alasdair wishes he’d known 10 years ago that “anybody can do this if they want to. You learn how to do it from watching other people who are good at it and you start to understand how jokes are made and you can trick the human brain into laughing.”
But it’s not without a lot of self-reflection that successful comedians are made.
“You have to accept it when a joke is not working and kill it until eventually, you have 5-10 minutes of content that does work.”
What will Alasdair bring back home for the Festival of Open Minds? He is working on that right now, whatever it is you won’t want to miss it.
The theme for Open Minds in 2019 is ‘People With Oomph’ inspired by Bega Valley song man Damon Davis and his song of the same name.
“People with oomph – they’re not lyin down. People with oomph – spread the good life. People with oomph – keep their own style. People with oomph – walk mile after mile,” Damon sings.
Aside from Alasdair Tremblay-Birchall, the 2019 Festival of Open Minds line up so far includes:
- Tim Costello, Chief Advocate, World Vision;
- Nas Campanella, blind Triple J newsreader;
- Aly Khalifa, founder of Oceanworks, focused on harvesting plastic waste from our oceans;
- Emma Booth, para-equestrian competitor, represented Australia at the 2016 Rio Paralympics;
- Pastor Christie Buckingham, spiritual counselor to executed Bali 9 drug smuggler Myuran Sukumaran.
More announcements will be made in the coming weeks, stay in touch via the festival website.
Early bird tickets and lunch options are on sale now via Eventbrite.
Thank you to our Festival partners – Southern Phone, Julie Rutherford Real Estate at Bermagui, Bega Valley Commemorative Civic Centre, Bega Valley Library Service, Bega Valley Regional Gallery, Tathra Beachhouse Apartments, Bega Valley Innovation Hub, North of Eden Gin, and Tilba Real Dairy.