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John Safran: Pranker.

25 November 2002 | 1:00 am | Eden Howard
Originally Appeared In

Kick Out The Jams.

Catch John Safran at Straight Out Of Brisbane on Wednesday and Thursday. Head to for more.

John Safran’s sordid rise to media fame found him competing on Race Around The World a half-decade back. After spending time fishing through Ray Martin’s garbage, he retreated to the world of radio before hitting the silver screen once more with Music Jamboree. A differently skewed take on the music industry, Safran took aim and scored with pranks like sneaking a group of teens into a club disguised as Slipknot, flogging of radio station brand fake ecstasy, putting together a Jewish boy band, and auditioning children’s clowns to front a horror metal band. Nice work, fella!

Now you can catch Safran as part of the Straight Out Of Brisbane festival, taking part in panel discussions on Wednesday and Thursday, much based on the recent Jamboree series.

“A commissioning editor at SBS Independent had seen the pilots I did for the ABC that never aired, including the biffo with Ray Martin. She was like, ‘Hey John, do something for us’. I submitted ideas for a year or so that didn’t quite gel. I guess they thought that me doing a music show just kind of sounds right in a way my previous ideas, like the book show, didn’t sound right.”

Jamboree also found Safran dressed as Prince doorknocking for the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and performing as Coolio to classical music in a city mall.

“You’ve got to embarrass yourself a bit really, to be honest. There’s some deep bad secrets of concept stuff that are so embarrassing. As well as the public side, there’s a bad ideas side. The hip-hop thing didn’t quite work. When you’re doing 30 stories over six episodes or whatever, some things just don’t work. We cut out the ones that were really terrible. But some times, due to deadlines you get things like running up to people dressed as a rapper even though it’s not very funny…”

How do you keep a straight face through everything?

“It depends what it is. I’m usually just a bit nervous, so that makes me keep a straight face. I’m never like super confident doing all that stuff. I’m usually ill. Even if it’s just dressing up. It’s really embarrassing.”

“The ones where you dress up in a stupid outfit and you’re non threatening, those are the best ones to do, because people think it’s weird, but they don’t feel bad. When they open the door and I’m dressed as Prince dancing around they don’t think it’s a bad situation. If you get in peoples faces, they get scared and stuff, you kind of feel guilty.”