In the lead-up to Melbourne Public’s A Very Public Punchline comedy shows, we caught up with Melbourne comedian Dave O’Neil.
Dave’s been in the comedy game for over 20 years. It’s something he’s wanted to do since he was a child. “I always wanted to be in entertainment,” he says. “I wanted to be a comedian on the radio – but I didn’t know how you did that. That was a long time ago and I didn’t know anyone in that field. I thought they came from a special suburb – you didn’t think guys like me would do that kind of thing. I studied teaching but I never worked as a teacher. I always wanted to be in show business but I didn’t know how to get into it.”
He also did a PR degree at RMIT, and was working in PR in his mid-twenties when he was sacked, and decided to try his hand at stand up, which as it turned out, he was rather good at. He points out that when he started stand up he didn’t have a family. He now has a wife and three kids, and is starting to be asked questions by his 11, 8 and 5 year olds about whether he’s famous. “They’re always asking me, ‘Are you famous dad? A kid at school said you were famous.’ I said ‘I’m not that famous.’ ‘Are you a little bit famous?’ ‘Yeah, a little bit.’”
He’s more than a little bit famous, with more than 50 appearances on Spicks and Specks (he was in a band himself in the 80s), appearances on 774 radio and many other television and radio programs.
He has also dabbled in politics. “I stood for a seat in the western suburbs. It was a joke, I wasn’t doing it seriously,” he explains. “But I got more votes than Family First and the Democrats put together. I had good policies. I was going to concrete all the railway lines and turn them into autobahns. That was one of my policies. Because they’re all direct routes to the city I thought they’d be great freeways. I was going to close all the private schools and turn them into theme parks.”
Dave’s also written several books, and is working on another. “I’m writing a memoir,” he says. Rather than a history of his life though, Dave’s focussing on a very specific period – the ten weeks when he waited for his high school results. “I thought that was an interesting time – that sort of limbo period that people experience,” he says.
Glenn Robbins will also appear on the bill at Melbourne Public on 15 July. Dave’s shared the stage with Glenn many times over the years, and they’re currently touring their show Now I have to kill you throughout Australia – including to the Opera House next month. “It was a radio show on 774 over summer – it’s a storytelling show where other comics tell revealing stories about their lives.”
On 16 July Dave, Glenn, Brad Oakes and Mick Nevin performed in a night of stand up at Melbourne Public.
A Very Public Punchline line ups include:
30 July: Mick Molloy, Lehmo, Danny McGinlay
13 August: Peter Helliar, Adam Rozanbachs, Harley Breen
27 August: Ronny Chieng, Dave Thornton, Tommy Little
Tickets are available on the Melbourne Public website.