They're Happy For People To Walk Out On Their Show

21 October 2015 | 4:48 pm | Travis Johnson

"I think it says more about them than us."

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Of the three original Doug Anthony All Stars, Paul McDermott kept the highest public profile, most notably on the long running current affairs comedy show, Good News Week. He’s back in the fold now, though, touring with fellow DAAS founder Tim Ferguson and long-time collaborator Paul 'Flacco' Livingston – and, he says, this looks to be their modus operandi going into the future.

“As long as we have legs to stand on – well, that’s not true for all members – as long as we can still perform live, I suspect, we’ll just keep doing it,” he tells us.  “It’s been a bit of a revelation for us and a lot of fun, so I think we’ll just keep going ‘round the traps, trying to do new things. It’ll keep going.”

Their lap ‘round the country last year was a kind of greatest hits tour, resurrecting a lot of classic material from the group’s Big Gig and DAAS Kapital years, but McDermott assures us that they feel no need to keep tapping the nostalgia well, despite what punters may cry for.

“Oh, we’ve found that we don’t really care about the audience all that much,” he laughs. “That’s always been one of the mainstays of the All Stars – we do whatever we want. Certainly, the last shows were cruising in at two-and-half-hours – that’s a bit of an ask, especially since much of our audience has gotten a fair bit older, but it doesn’t really concern us that much. We try and do what we enjoy and hopefully other people enjoy it, too.

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“All the old stuff we’ve got in the set we’ve kind of warped out of shape over the past couple of months,” he continues. “Just by performing it. So it can never be exactly what it was; it’s just a simulacra of that. I think comedy can never be, in this country anyway, an excuse for nostalgia. I know it works in other places – I remember touring the States and places like that, and people would come on when we were doing, say, the Montreal Comedy Festival, and people that we knew from Letterman and so on would do the same sets that they did on those shows and people would love them for those particular sets, which is weird coming from a tradition of so much ad lib and so on. But people would love them for those sets. I don’t really enjoy that, but different cultures, different methods. But we like being inventive and creative and using whatever’s around for us to poke a stick at.”

The target of that metaphorical stick is usually some manner of sacred cow, and the All Stars retain their ability to offend, even as they themselves move into elder statesmen territory. Notably, their last Perth show saw several walkouts after the trio turned their satirical knife on the then-sitting Abbott government.

“I’m happy if people walk out,” McDermott says matter-of-factly. “That’s okay, they’re making a decision and using their right, that’s okay, but I think it’s an indication of the person at what point they walk out. I think by that stage we would have had a big swipe at MS, at cripples, at necrophiliac behaviour, at bestiality perhaps, at all manner of things, so it’s interesting that they chose a slab of material about the Abbott government front bench to make their point over. I think it says more about them than us.

Originally published in X-Press Magazine