I think Damien Power is one of the most exciting comedians in Australia right now. He opened for Tenacious D on their Australian tour a few years back (I saw the show and he crushed it) and his 2015 stand up show I Can’t Believe I Cared was nominated for the Barry Award at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.
Damien’s comedy is not only hilarious, it’s extremely well-informed and socially conscious. In this chat we covered cats (shout-outs to Jerry the Persian), what the film Jurassic World tells us about capitalism and the growth economy, anarchy, conspiracy theories and the impending World War III that’s coming to obliterate us all. Enjoy!
Cause of the Week: GetUp!’s campaign to shut down Manus Island and Nauru (getup.org.au)
Van Badham exudes passion for political action. She’s a playwright, novelist, columnist for The Guardian, proud union member and vocal activist who’s appeared on Q&A, The Drum and Radio National.
Van outlined the case against the federal government’s approach to arts funding and spoke to me about the importance of the arts to a society’s understanding of itself, our lazy attitude to democracy, politicians’ failure to listen to the people, asylum seekers, education, taxes, why the marriage equality debate gives her hope and tackling trolls.
Rod Quantock recently received a Medal of the Order of Australia for his 45+ years of being an outspoken comedian/environmentalist activist/shit-stirrer. He is a living legend of Australian comedy who has relentlessly used his work to explain, dissect and call out political issues that really piss him off.
In this wide-ranging chat, Rod told me about his thoughts on music, his political radicalisation, the origins of his groundbreaking shows Tram and Bus, the community campaigns he’s been involved with, being physically beaten at a protest at the 2000 World Economic Forum, his plans to close down the Murdoch press, how he keeps faith in the political system (or doesn’t) and how the realities of climate change colour his view of the future.
Cause of the Week: Quit Coal (quitcoal.org.au)
Tim Wilson is a former policy director at the Institute of Public Affairs, Australia's Human Rights Commissioner, public commentator and tea-drinker. He describes himself as a economic and social liberal and a cultural and institutional conservative. He's passionate about his principles and isn't afraid to wade into whatever controversy those principles might him lead to.
Together we discussed the criticisms he's faced since taking on his role at the AHRC, asylum seeker policy, what it's really like at the IPA, his opposition to plain packaging cigarettes, the balance of marriage equality and religious freedoms, anti-discrimination legislation and his thoughts on the recent Q&A controversy.
Cause of the Week: The Australian Indigenous Education Foundation (aief.com.au)
Vegan lawyer Shatha Hamade is a former prosecutor for the RSPCA and is now the Head of Investigations for Animals Australia. She's passionate about advocating for animal rights and challenging social conditioning when it comes to the way we treat our fellow earthlings.
In this chat (recorded in the AA offices, where DOGS JUST RUN AROUND FREELY IT IS SO COOL) we discuss her "wake-up" moment, the kind of godawful abuses she's witnessed, the law's approach to animals accoridng to their "use", inherited thinking, the links between animal cruelty and a myriad of other social problems, the live export and live baiting investigations and the non-humans right movement.
A warning: animal cruelty is described in explicit detail here, some listeners may find it disturbing.
Cause of the Week: Animals Australia (animalsaustralia.org)
Dan Ilic is a political satirist who employs what he calls “evidence-based shit-stirring”. He loves taking the piss in all sorts of media; his sensibilities can be found in The Ronnie Johns Half-Hour, Can of Worms, The Mansion, Hungry Beast, his ads for GetUp!, his labour of love satire collective A Rational Fear and more recently his work for Al Jazeera’s AJ+.
In this chat (recorded in a very SPECIAL LOCATION featuring a SPECIAL CAMEO), Dan and I reflect on the furore surrounding Q&A and discuss his amazing family story, how his “inner rage” fuels him to do what he does, the saga surrounding his piece (that was originally titled) Beaconsfield: A Musical In A Flat Minor, why he recently got fired and where he sees Australian political satire going in the future.
Cause of the Week: Sanfilippo Children's Foundation (sanfilippo.org.au)
Waleed Aly (aka Nazeem Hussain) is a politics lecturer, columnist, author, radio broadcaster and co-host on Channel Ten's The Project.
Waleed has an extraordinary reputation for making considered and insightful contributions to public debate. We discussed how he's finding the world of commercial television, how the act of writing informs his ideas, the political philosophy of conservatism (what it is and what it isn't), marriage equality, Middle Eastern politics and why ISIS' appeal to young Muslim people in the West might be working.
At one point I hit the mic with my hand and at another point a chair collapses.
Cause of the Week: Possible Dreams International (possibledreams.org)
This week - something a bit different.
I am a very big fan of former Bluejuice frontman, comedian and broadcaster Jake Stone and feel very lucky indeed to count him as a friend. I think he's extremely funny and creative but also has a darkness and a brutal honesty to him that I find fascinating.
This chat - recorded back in January of this year - covers Jake's career with Bluejuice, the band's philosophy, the state of today's music industry, the major break-up in his life that inspired him so much and stilll haunts him, mental health issues and the experiecne of writing a good pop song.
Jake even kindly gave me a special little musical treat, just for this podcast: his cover of How Will I Know?. Enjoy!
Cause of the Week: Music NSW (musicnsw.com)
Newsreader, journalist, writer and philanthropist Tracey Spicer doesn't tolerate make-up, God, prudishness or sexism in the workplace. She rips through bullshit with a smile and had stories to burn from her time studying, working in the trenches at Channel Ten and Sky News and her colourful personal life.
Tracey told me about how liberating it is to shake off the image of the "perfect" newsreader, how Joh Bjelke-Petersen inspired her to become a journalist, the issue of bias in journalism, her work as an ambassador for World Vision and the time she almost killed her mum.
Cause of the Week: Dying With Dignity (dwdv.org.au)
Nic Holas is a moustached writer and advocate living with HIV. He's written for Junkee, Hello Mr., Star Observer, Cosmopolitan and others, he's appeared on the ABC's Q&A and he's co-founded a social media umbrella for positive people.
He's fearless, frank and funny and I love him for it. In this chat Nic shared his story about becoming positive and we discussed the ins and outs of what HIV is, the spectre of the 80s epidemic, shame, sex education, the problem with condoms, same-sex marriage and wolf-daddies.
Cause of the Week: The Institute of Many (theinstituteofmany.org.au)
Jarrod McKenna is one of those "cool Christians" you've heard about, except he actually is genuinely cool.
Jarrod is many things: a pastor, a protestor, the National Advisor for Youth, Faith and Activism for World Vision Australia, founder of the Love Makes A Way campaign and the First Home Project, theologian, husband, dad and drealocked d00d. He subscribes to the whacky idea that Christianity should look like Jesus and that compels him to do good, important things.
In this conversation (recorded in the communal kitchen of the First Home Project) we covered a lot: the problematic nature of ANZAC Day, his journey to faith, living Jesus’ love, being the Christian kid at school, non-violent protest and how he turned a further meth lab in the Perth suburb of Midland into a home for people who are trying to build a new life for themselves.
Super-dooper brainy (and very funny) comedian Sara Pascoe was in Australia for a bunch of festivals and kindly gave me some of her time to talk about sperm and hymen in a hotel lobby. Her work is whip-smart and politically active and has recently focussed on the fascinating world of sexual biology and its implications.
Here we cover her early political awakening, the difficulty of being a good person, kamikaze sperm, pornography, incest, hymens, paedophilia - you know, all the good stuff.
Prepare to do a lot of LEARNING.
Cause of the Week: Eaves For Women (eavesforwomen.org.uk)
After my little rant about this nonsense, sit back and enjoy my wide-ranging discussion with Melbourne's one-and-only "larrikin priest", dear Father Bob Maguire.
A humanitarian, broadcaster, philosopher and community leader who makes me laugh and think, Bob was an absolute joy a to talk to. We discussed his history with the Vietnam War, ideology, the problems in the Middle East, the idea of heaven, "doctrinal constipation", his "wife" and much more besides.
At one point he exclaimed "Bugger Rome!" and that made me laugh quite a bit.
Cause of the Week: The Father Bob Maguire Foundation (fatherbobsfoundation.com.au)
Here's a special little treat because I love youse so much: my piece for Fan Fiction Comedy at this year's Melbourne International Comedy Festival.
Based on this actual news story about the federal government spending $4 million on a telemovie designed to deter asylum seekers to come to Australia by boat, Deathboat - Bloody Borders is a gritty, action-packed drama that is sure to be a ratings winner.
My chat with Helen Razer continues and by now she’s really in her groove.
Here we cover our obsession with gestures as opposed to real action, why we should tear down the catwalk, the evils of iPhones, the overuse of personal anecdotes, how “the world is just fucked” and much more.
Helen Razer is a writer, a broadcaster and a gardener who doesn’t fuck around. Presenting alongside Mikey Robbins on breakfast and Judith Lucy on drive, she was a defining voice on triple j throughout the 1990s thanks to her wit, her vocabulary and her distaste for bullshit.
Since her time on the radio, Helen has forged a reputation as a ruthless and incisive opinion writer, appearing in The Big Issue, The Saturday Paper, Crikey, The Guardian and elsewhere. She very kindly had me over to her place for lunch and to talk about her latest book on the quality of public debate and the spectre of “Stupid”.
In this first part of our chat, we discuss comedy, the value and purpose of university learning, feminism, killing liberalism, capitalism, marriage equality and the “banality of good”.
Cause of the Week: The ABC’s Appeal for the Nepalese Earthquake (abc.net.au/appeals)
I was happier than a pig in shit to have a chat with comedian Robin Ince last week. I've been a fan of Robin's comedy ever since I saw him supporting Ricky Gervais on his tour DVDs years ago and his recent work has really excited me as an atheist and as a novice student of science.
Robin is in Australia touring his Happiness Through Science show in association with the Atheist Foundation of Australia, critiquing silly religious ideas and celebrating the natural world through jokes. We talked and laughed about Australia's religiosity, Robin's journey to and conception of atheism, the "great big tumour of existence", the danger of dogma, morality, Islam, the quantum qualities of plants, having children and whether or not he actually has sat on ham.
Cause of the Week: Water Aid (wateraid.org/au)
Freelance journalist Andrew McMillen writes about all sorts of fascinating stuff. While I was in Brisbane I sat down with him to briefly discuss dead bodies and Wikipedia, but we spent most of our time focussed on getting high.
Andrew's book Talking Smack: Honest Conversations About Drugs saw him interview big names in Australian music about their relationship with and opinions on illegal drug use. I asked him what he learnt from putting the book together and we talked about the history of drug criminalisation, the relationship between drugs and creativity, the problems with the public debate about the issue, why people take drugs, how to buy them and where he sees the conversation going next.
Cause of the Week: Headspace (headspace.org.au)
Clementine Ford is a self-described "feminist killjoy to the stars". As a Daily Life columnist, speaker and activist, Clem is a proudly outspoken advocate for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault and a staunch critic of rape culture and all that entails.
Our conversation covered the perceptions of and challenges faced by modern-day feminism, society's attitude towards the perpetrators and victims of rape and sexual assault, men's role in feminism, checking one’s privilege, "rape jokes" and more.
Please note this discussion comes with a strong trigger warning; details of sexual assaults and victim blaming are mentioned.
Clementine’s TED Talk: Your Vagina Is Not A Car
Opinion piece: It Was Easy For Bayley To Stalk, Rape And Murder
Opinion piece: There’s Nothing Funny About Misogyny
triple j’s Hack program: Are rape jokes ever OK?
Cause of the Week: Safe Steps Family Violence Response Centre (safesteps.org.au)
Journalist and comedy writer Richard Cooke has worked with the likes of The Chaser, The Checkout, The Saturday Paper, The Guardian and The Monthly.
He gave me some of his time to sound off on Aussie hip hop, Australian political satire, the theory of "mutual obligation" and tax evasion and the role of polling in today's politics.
Cause of the Week: Doctors Without Borders (doctorswithoutborders.org)
Ben Riley describes himself as a classical liberal, a Queenslander and a larrikin. He's a former president of the Young Liberals and the current Vice President of the International Young Democractic Union.
We came together to find out exactly where we do and don't agree on things like the privatisation of public assets, the State's role in our lives, puppy farms, same-sex marriage, diversity in politics, the environment and our Prime Minister's character.
Plus we laughed about that time he got drunk and was a bit silly.
Adelaide's Welcome Centre is an initiative of Welcome To Australia, an organisation dedicated to changing the conversation around Australia's immigration policies and to providing support to asylum seekers, refugees and new arrivals.
My guests were Kate Leaney, the Centre's manager, and Ali, an Iranian refugee who was kind enough to share his story of fleeing his homeland and coming to Australia by boat. We discussed the notion of being welcoming, faith, children in detention, fear and hope.
The one-and-only Arj Barker is hilarious on stage, but serious when it comes to reports and lore surrounding Unidentified Flying Objects. He told me about the cases and evidence that have influenced his thinking, the philosophy surrounding the idea of extra-terrestrials and the nature of belief.
We also covered his interest in meditation and his former life as a bit of a stoner.
Jacques Vallée’s Passport To Magonia
Cause of the Week: The RSPCA on the greyhound racing industry (rspcavic.org/)
Jimblah (aka James Alberts) is a producer, MC and vocalist based in Adelaide, SA. He hails from the Larrakia Nation and on his two albums to date, Face The Fire and Phoenix, he’s produced smart, self-aware, passionate and original music.
Our conversation covered his recent philosophical evolution and the focus for his new album, pervasive racist systems, Australia/Invasion/Survival Day, love, power and eating meat.
Quentin Kenihan is a movie star, a TV presenter and producer, friend to celebrities, disability advocate and enthusiastic Jewel fan.
Brought into the national spotlight as a 7-year-old boy with osteogenesis imperfecta (or "brittle bone syndrome"), the Q has experienced the dizzying heights (and lows) of fame, sex and drug use. As he brings his autobiographical show I'm 40...Now What? to the Adelaide Fringe, we chatted about everything from sex workers to inspiration to the late Stella Young to the death penalty to his own funeral.
I even met his dog.
Cause of the Week: The Attitude Foundation (attitude.org.au)