Link to our Facebook
Link to our Instagram

Suitably Unsuitable

6 February 2013 | 10:29 am | Aleksia Barron

“I got into comedy because I was shit at everything else.”

More Harley Breen More Harley Breen

Harley Breen knows that the life of a comedian can take you far away – although not always. An Elsternwick local, Breen is gearing up to take part in his neighbourhood venue The Flying Saucer's second Comedy Invasion night, where he'll share the stage with Dave Hughes and Dave O'Neil.

It isn't the first time a gig of Breen's has been a bit close to home – one of his worst comedy experiences was at a family function. “It was at my sister's wedding, about six months after I started comedy,” the exuberant comic explains. “She made the bad decision – I'll totally blame it all on her – of getting me to be the MC and do stand-up.” Unfortunately, Breen's sister wasn't entirely cognisant of the gulf between her guests and her brother's comedic style. “I got up and in the audience of the wedding were six ordained ministers of the church, a federal politician and a couple of state politicians. It could not have gone worse if I'd tried harder. It was disgracefully bad.” How bad? “At one point, one of my cousins was laughing, and another of my cousins hit her on the leg and said, 'Don't. You'll encourage him!'”

Fortunately, few of Breen's more recent gigs have turned out quite so poorly (and he's MC'd several less awkward weddings since, too). He's been on the comedy circuit for several years, and started gaining broader attention after winning the Piece of Wood Award at the 2011 Melbourne International Comedy Festival for his show, I Heart Bunnings. By his own admission, entering the world of stand-up was something of an accident. “I was another one of these comedians that was trying to be an actor and that wasn't really taking, because I wasn't a big enough wanker,” he laughs. “I got sick of the acting industry and jumped up on the stand-up stage and just caught the buzz – an unhealthy addiction to the adrenaline that you produce in your own body!”

On the difference between acting and stand-up, Breen is clear: with stand-up, it's all on you. “When you fail, holy crap, you fail. You wrote [your material], you performed it, you produced it, you directed it, and an audience still might go, 'Ah, nah.'” Theatrical classics carry less pressure: “If you get up and perform a scene from Macbeth and people aren't into it, it's like, 'I don't care, dude wrote it five hundred years ago.'”

Still, Breen considers himself a comedian through and through these days – as he says, “I got into comedy because I was shit at everything else.” He's enjoying the opportunity to play a local show before he takes on the traditional national comedy circuit over the coming months, and Melbournians can look forward to his next MICF show, Some Kind Of Something. It's a more ambiguous title than, say, I Heart Bunnings, but Breen underwent a steep learning curve when it comes to show names in 2012. “Last year's title was going to be Let's Zumba, which was about fitness and exercise and body image, and talking about body image from a male perspective… and Zumba tried to sue me for using their name! So I had to change it to Shape Up.” Fortunately, for both comedy and The Flying Saucer, Breen has emerged litigation-free to once more take the microphone.

WHAT: Flying Saucer Comedy Invasion Two
WHEN & WHERE: Friday 8 February, The Flying Saucer Club, Melbourne VIC