With a successful show last year and the release of a DVD, this year at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Sammy J teamed up again with Heath McIvor to put on the 2010 Barry Award nominated Ricketts Lane; a tale of friendship, corruption and above all things the law. I spoke with Sammy J about the show.
Sammy (now 26) said he first got into comedy at school. He watched his favourite comedy shows and stand up and it seemed like a natural thing for him and by year 12 he knew he wanted to be a comedian, as he stated; “… there was no one moment, it was my passion.”
He originally went to university to become a lawyer, after dropping out to pursue comedy full time Ricketts Lane sees Sammy plays a kick arse tax lawyer. Sammy explains that to him this is like a ‘sliding doors’ moment in which what may have happened ‘…if I hadn’t chosen comedy.’ The show centres around Sammy investigating the fraudulent matters of owner of The Caterpillar Club, Mr. Magingsky and Sammy’s housemate Randy (puppetered by Heath McIvor). He explained that it was quite strange that all his lawyer friends were coming to see him as a comedian doing a show about the profession he quit.
Heath, the puppeteer master; has been working with puppets for twelve years. Sammy first met Heath at The Butterfly Club in 2005 when he was doing some stuff as Randy. Some of Heath’s earlier work includes; Walking with Dinosaurs, The Hobbit and The Live Experience. He has also toured with Polyglot Theatre (an Australian children’s theatre company) on several different occasions.
Sammy explained that ‘… comedy can be a very lonely thing, travelling and performing by yourself so it’s very fun to share it all with, he’s a partner in crime.’
Like all projects that the boys collaborate on Randy, is one guy that I forgot was a puppet and started talking to like a normal person with a mind of his own. He has toured with the circus and from his website (see below) has ‘…been married, divorced, arrested, kidnapped and thrown from a moving hovercraft…’ and in 2009 he preformed his debut solo show Randy’s Postcards From Purgatory at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and now is performing alongside best friend.
When I asked Sammy to describe Ricketts Lane in five words he was very specific yet quite accurate when he answered, “Narrative Comedy Musical with Puppet.” Ricketts Lane is exactly that, with catchy tunes of a sing-a-long nature the two performers work in-sync to provide the audience with a colourful show.
It must be addressed that the nights I saw them they had microphone issues that were fixed by making reference to Randy’s penis being called Randy; throughout the festival, they made the prison scene a running gag that sometimes went on for too long but didn’t worry the performers or the audience because they were enjoying it so much that it became a part of the script by default.
So with a piano, microphone, back catalogue and fan base that range three generations; I asked Sammy what was next on his agenda, ‘I’m thinking about doing a stand up show at the Melbourne Fringe. It’s a bit scary, but scary ideas make you grow as a performer. It was scary doing the school show (Sammy’s 2009 Comedy Festival show titled, 1999 dealt with bullying) and it was scary doing Forrest of Dreams (available on DVD) but I think you have to do something challenging.’ He explained.
If you ever get a chance to see these two I urge you to go, even if it means cancelling that important dinner that you.
have been putting off for months, your friends will understand and it would be a shame to miss these two in action. Who I would describe in five words as “Sam & Heath, Comedy Puppet Perfection.” Ricketts Lane picked up the Barry Award for 2010; in which when I asked him how it feels he answered; “Bloody unreal!”
Sammy, Heath and Randy are now off to perform Ricketts Lane at the New Zealand Comedy Festival in Wellington and Auckland.
Sammy J will be at the Melbourne Fringe festival (Sep 22 – Oct 10) so keep an eye out. His CD; Sticky Digits is available through iTunes and Forrest of Dreams in all DVD shops or at laughingstock.com.
Visit Sammy at: www.sammy-j.com
Visit Heath and Randy at: www.heathmcivor.com