In April 2015, I had the extraordinary priveledge of interviewing Seaton Kay-Smith forGrapeshot Magazine, Macquare University's Student Publication. To those of you who are unaware, Seaton is a writer (having written for the ABC, as well as launching his debut novel A Fistful of Clones this year), and comedian (having toured the Sydney Film Festival twice, and also reaching the semi-finals of Australia's Got Talent with his offbeat style of humour).
Below is the interview I had with him:
NW: Hi Seaton, thanks for taking the time to do this interview. Just looking at your profile and reading the premise for your upcoming show, I was already fascinated by your brand of slightly twisted, fast, visual style comedy. How did you get into such a unique brand of comedy and develop your own style?
SKS: When I first started out in comedy in 2011, I only did one liners. They could at times be twisted or dark, but they were all very structured. Then I started going to an alternative comedy night called Phuklub, (which has since closed), and it was there that I started to experiment with more ideas and techniques. Phuklub was a great place to do anything and everything that you thought was funny and find out if others thought the same. I ate copious amounts of chilli’s, I did a 10 minute opera about the death of Jesus, I shouted hypnotism at audience members and danced around covered in tea towels to child-like music. It was great fun!
NW: What were the first experiences you had when you were doing live performances? Obviously, with such a difficult medium, it must’ve been daunting.
SKS: I’ve always performed, in school plays, assemblies and things like that. I don’t particularly remember the bad feelings from them, only the good feelings. But my first gig as a stand up comedian was in London, I did it whilst on holidays to avoid the potential aftermath of a bad performance (taking refuge in anonymity). I got to London at about 6am and then spent the day exploring, the gig was at 11pm and it went well and the fear and adrenaline probably helped with any potential jetlag.
NW: Of course, when it comes to live performances, I saw you perform on Australia’s Got Talent in 2013. What was it like to perform in front of such an amazing comedian, Dawn French, and to do as well as you did in that competition?
SKS: It was great. Everyone was very nice, all the crew and the performers and the judges, they were all very welcoming and supportive. It was a great experience. I just wish I’d gotten Dawn’s email address. I can be a terrible networker sometimes.
NW: In addition to comedy, you've also developed your style of writing through working at the ABC on programmes like The Roast, and A Rational Fear. Television, of course, is a very tough business to work in, so why did you decide to branch out and go your own way?
SKS: Righting for the Roast was a great time in my life. Having a day job where I got to write comedy every day of the week was such a blessing and I consider myself extremely lucky to have been a part of such a special thing with such an amazing group of people. The decision to branch out and leave TV was unfortunately a decision made for me. When the Abbott government cut the ABC's budget by $254 million, the Roast, as well as a lot of ABC2 content, as I understand it, didn't stay on air. (The Roast still exists on the Guardian but with a very skeleton crew of not more than a handful of people. It's still very good though, everyone should check it out!).
NW: Additionally, you’ve often talked about how when you were younger you loved to make short films. You’ve created an online comedy series Nick and Seaton with Paper Moose. What is it like to experiment with comedy online, and especially seeing such great success with many of your online productions appearing at festivals around the world?
SKS: The great thing about short films and online content is that it’s there forever. With a comedy show, you do it a couple of times at one festival, a few more times at another and then it’s done. Chances are you won’t do it ever again. This hour long show you’ve written is alive only in your memory and the 500 postcards you still have left over from the festival. But with short films, they’re there forever. And they’re great practice for acting, writing and future film and TV adventures.
NW: Now onto your new comedy tour! Your debut comedy show at the 2014 Sydney Comedy Festival, Waiting for the Next Apocalypse was a great success. What was the premise behind that show and why do you think it was so successful?
SKS: Waiting for the Next Apocalypse looked at the potential ways that the world might end. It started as a lecture of sorts, running through different scenarios; global warming, the grey goo theory, Mayan prophecy. The show then descends into madness when it’s discovered that the way it will actually end is by a chicken uprising. That’s why I only buy free range. As for successful, I think apocalypses are interesting subject matter, and it was a show full of songs, stories, jokes and chickens, so there was variety, but more importantly singing chickens.
NW: Now, for this year you’ll be performing again at the Sydney Comedy Festival with your brand new show The Carnival of Regret, what are you most looking forward to about getting back out there and performing and what can we expect from your new show?
SKS: I love ghosts. I think they are, conceptually, very fascinating. I’m very much looking forward to getting back on that stage and talking in depth about ghosts and the supernatural. There’ll be songs, dance, laughs and scares! It’s going to be very scary. It’s all about whether or not magic and the supernatural can exist in a world saturated by information. How can the unknown exist when so much is known... but funny. Spooky yes, but still a comedy.
NW: 2015 is going to be a big year for you, on top of comedy shows, you’ve gone into writing as well with your debut novel, A Fistful of Clones, what’s the premise behind that story and why the desire to get into fiction and writing novels?
SKS: The basic premise of A Fistful of Clones is, the main character is cloned and when his clones escape he’s hired to hunt them down and kill them, because for anyone else it would be murder, for him, it’s suicide. I decided to write Fistful as a novel because I had this story and it was just sitting on my computer as a screenplay not getting made, but I really liked the story, so I turned it into a book because I figured that would be a way to get it out there into the world and I’ve always wanted to write a novel. I hope to write more, it was a lot of fun.
NW: Finally, what would you say to any guys or girls out there who want to get into comedy? Any wise words of wisdom?
SKS: Do it. Give it a go. There are open mic nights where you can sign up on the night like Mug and Kettle in Glebe, and there are heaps of other venues in Sydney where new people can get up and do a spot. That’s my advice, just give it a go. It might go terribly, but then also it might go amazingly. So, give it a go.