Published on May 9th, 2013 | by Dedee W0
Billy T Nominee – Tom Furniss
Tom Furniss is another one of those annoying overachievers, but is still pretty likeable due to his offbeat sense of humour. For example, he once pushed the limits by using the word “areola” in a fanfiction he wrote about Home and Away. The graphic imagery was hilarious, if a little hard to take. Another highlight was seeing him sing ‘Born To Be Wild’ using electric piano gloves during last years’ show.
His CV includes things like winning the V48 hour film competition with the Grand Cheval’s The Child Jumpers in 2011, treating us all to ice creams at his first solo show in 2012 –The Free Ice Cream Show, and performing with the FanFiction Comedy Crew at the Melbourne Comedy Festival.
This is his second nomination for the Billy T Award, so look out – I think he’s onto something.
Your show this year is called ‘The Diary of Gordon Leaf-Cooper’ Did you ever keep a diary yourself?
No I didn’t, was more of a blog guy in this day and age. But never did it for long, once had a blog about male advice that was so bad, advice like, “If you run out of toilet paper, use the newspaper!” “If you’ve got conjunctivitis, don’t go to the doctor, just use cottage cheese on your eyes, works a treat.” I don’t think I ever showed it to anyone.
How long have you been doing comedy, and how did you start out?
This is my 3rd year. I started out because I’d just moved to Auckland and had no friends and was I guess subconsciously missing laughing with my friends, so I went to the comedy show at the Classic and then got sucked in from there.
You said in a recent interview that “comedy is tragedy”. Do you really believe that, and does it apply to this years’ show?
Good research. Yes for sure, someone pulled me up on it the other day and said “don’t say that, people won’t come to your show.” But comedy is just talking about tragedy, how far you want to go with it depends on whether people recognise it more for tragedy or more for comedy. This year I found someone’s diary, and it’s full of sad tragic things, as diaries usually are, and I’ve challenged myself to perform them on stage and make them funny.
Who are your comedy heroes and mentors and are any of them at the fest this year?
There’s a bunch of helpful more senior New Zealand comics, who have always been there to give advice or gigs to me and other younger comics, but I’m not going to name drop cause there’s too many of them. In terms of heroes who influence the style of comedy I do on stage, no they’re not at this festival. If you want names, Stewart Lee, Paul Foot, The Mighty Boosh, Tim Key, Daniel Kitson, they’re all people whose style I’ve borrowed off in some way.
What were the highlights of your recent trip to the Melbourne Comedy Festival with the FanFiction crew?
Seeing a guy called Dayne Rathbone, he was my favourite. That and a baked potato shop were both amazing.
What’s your advice to any of the Class Comedians or any young comedians who may aspire to be a Billy T nominee one day?
Just do what makes you laugh. If the things that make you laugh are original, then you’re a big step of the way there. Think outside the box too, the stage and the microphone and the ‘rules’ around stand up are only there to be broken. If you can find an original persona that naturally breaks the rules, you’ll be a star; just look at The Boy with Tape on his Face and Doc Brown. Be brave, bravery is so rewarded in stand up.
What other shows are you doing at the Comedy festival this year?
I’m doing a few FanFiction shows, did a Late Laughs in Wellington which was humdinger, and will perform at Last Laughs with the other nominees.
Dates: Tue 14 – Sat 18 May, 8.45pm
Venue: The Basement Studio, Level 1, Lower Greys Ave
Tickets: Adults $18, Conc. $15