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Local funnyman coming home for Festival of Open Minds

Ian Campbell and Elka Wood 8 July 2019
Alasdair Tremblay-Birchall says success arms are the reason for his success. Picture:provided

Alasdair Tremblay-Birchall. Photo: Supplied.

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.

The 2019 Festival of Open Minds line up includes:

  • Tim Costello, Chief Advocate, World Vision;
  • Nas Campanella, blind Triple J newsreader;
  • Pastor Christie Buckingham, spiritual counselor to executed Bali 9 drug smuggler Myuran Sukumaran;
  • Aly Khalifa, entrepreneur focused on harvesting plastic waste from our oceans;
  • Emma Booth, para-equestrian competitor, represented Australia at the 2016 Rio Paralympics;
  • Alasdair Tremblay-Birchall, comedian, joke writer, grew up in Tathra;
  • Sassi Nuyum, AKA Meaghan Holt, rising Aboriginal writer, performer;
  • Corrine Gibbons, songstress and choir director;
  • Jonathan Kenna, Australia’s Ambassador to Sweden;
  • Captain Phil Holliday, Sydney, Port Kembla and Eden Harbour Master;
  • Damon Davis, long time singer-songwriter and the original man of oopmh;
  • A local panel of leaders including Erica Dibden – Tilba Milk, Louise Brand – road safety campaigner, Kate Toyer – Eurobodalla vet and transgender advocate,  Warren Foster Jr – Aboriginal artist and leader, Darren Jones – Band Together, and Hannah Doole – climate change activist.

The night before this day of discussion, we launch the festival with a FREE community celebration – Parklight in the heart of Bega. Littleton Gardens will light up with magical occurrences and happenings, a celebration of our community with a focus on the contribution and talent of youth and Indigenous culture.

Adult tickets for Saturday’s program are on sale now, including lunch option, people 12 to 19 years get in FREE, but you do need to reserve your place. Students there on the day will also be in the running to win $500 to put towards a science education experience of their choice thanks to The Sapphire Coast Regional Science Hub and Inspiring Australia.

Rush to Eventbrite now to claim your place at the Festival of Open Minds.

Thank you to our Festival partners – 

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