Nath Valvo’s got a lot to get off his chest. After 2010 saw him fired from his dream job on a commercial radio station and his first love broke his heart, there was plenty that got on his nerves.
Granted, comedians often have the propensity to use their medium as a therapeutic measure, but Valvo’s new show, People That Annoy Me, is certainly taking that to the extreme.
The 27-year-old’s proclivity for offloading all things irritating in nature is no surprise to regular listeners of his regular JOY FM breakfast talk show, The Glory Boys. Now, the Melbourne International Comedy Festival (MICF) has given him agency to conduct his deprecating humour in front of a whole new audience, and he’s hoping they’ll join the chorus too.
“With the advent of things like Twitter and Facebook, everyone’s talking about what annoys them these days,” Valvo said.
“I wanted to get together an official list during the show that people could add to and basically start a revolution against the people that are annoying in this country, like the guy that eats a kebab on the tram.”
After years of performing under The Shambles banner at the MICF, alongside his community television co-stars Sean Lynch and Anthony Ziella, Valvo said last year cemented the idea that it was time to pursue solo projects.
“We’d done a few comedy fests in a row and it was really fun, but last year I wasn’t nervous, I wasn’t anxious and to me that means I’m not pushing myself,” he said.
The gay comedian’s first solo show during Midsumma, Fag/Hag, garnered considerable praise as he tackled the concept of a gay man’s best friend. The show was also an insight into Valvo’s earliest coming-out adventures.
“I sort of saw Midsumma as foreplay; I wanted to see what would work and focus on things like growing up in Greensborough and coming out to my parents. I always thought my experiences were pretty funny, but the great reaction gave me the confidence I need to continue.”
Valvo’s quick wit and acid-tongued delivery grew from an extroverted youth during which, he unashamedly admitted, life was one performance after another.
“I don’t want to be one of these wankers that says ‘When I was three I wanted to be actor’, when really I has just a hypo, attention–seeking child, and I decided to make a career out of it. My parents would probably just say my ADD was unmedicated.”
Valvo’s stand-out work is undoubtedly his ability to think on his feet. It was during his Midsumma performances where he’d get suspected fag hags out of the audience and have improvised banter with them, that he really shined. This hilarious crowd back-and-forth looks set to return to the new show.
“It’s an intimate venue so I might not even need a mike, which is awesome ’cause then people really shit themselves. But they can rest assured I’m not really going to pick on anyone, I want this show to be more of a conversation.
“We’ve got the annoying people list and I want people adding to it each night,” he said.
Queer performers seem to garner a larger profile each year as the MICF goes on, but Valvo suspects it’s not the numbers of gay and lesbian performers that are increasing, but the buzz associated with them.
“Yes, there does seem to be a lot — which is bad for me trying to sell tickets. But, look, there are about 360 shows at MICF, by math alone there should be quite a few that are gay and lesbian performers,” he said.
“I don’t think there are more, I just think it’s taken people like Josh Thomas and Tom Ballard getting great gigs at Triple J and Channel 10 to shine the light on us a little.”
So how big a role does being gay factor into Valvo’s comedy? He doesn’t seem to want to be drawn into defining himself as either a ‘gay comedian’ or a ‘comedian who happens to be gay’, simply a funny one.
“The best advice for a comedian is write what you know. I didn’t come out until I was 22 and I think my coming-out stories are pretty funny, and as long as it’s funny, I’ll talk about it,” he said.
info: Nath Valvo’s People That Annoy Me is at The Forum, Carpet Room, March 31 – April 24. Bookings: www.ticketmaster.com.au and at the door.