We spoke with Cameron James, a man who has been called “The next big thing of Australian comedy” and “a ginger bearded knob”, about why you shouldn’t follow your heart. Or regift.
TBS: What do you think is the key factor in you ending up where you are today career-wise?
Cameron James: Failure. Before I did comedy I knew I liked doing creative things, but I had no idea where to put that energy. I tried playing in an indie band for a long time, writing embarrassing songs with embarrassing titles like “Brunette Lament” and “I’m Sorry I’m Not Sorry”, but I put most of my effort into owning every pair of skinny jeans on the market.
Even now that I’m doing comedy, failure is still a motivator that helps me get better.
Last night I did a spot at a comedy room to an audience of six people who seemed more like hostages.
Who do you consider the most intriguing public figure to watch at the moment?
Beyonce’s pregnancy announcement is the most amazing and insane thing I’ve ever seen. She’s inarguably one of the coolest people alive, and a singular talent, so I get why people were moved by her twins announcement photo shoot. But, seriously, imagine if that wasn’t Beyonce, and it was just some lady from work. Imagine Jen from HR wearing a veil in a garden of flowers. Mortifying.
What is the worst way for a person to try and get your attention on social media?
So far I haven’t had many bad experiences. I have a very dumb (but funny!) podcast called Mike Check, which is a show where we analyse all the films of Mike Myers. Yep, that’s the whole show. So most of the time I just have people tweeting me Wayne’s World gifs, or “Do I make you horny, baby?” from Austin Powers. I brought it on myself, and I’ll never get sick of it. Maybe it you tweeted me that you didn’t like Shrek, that’d be hurtful, but I’d mainly be worried that Mike would see it.
If you could determine the exact influence you have on a young person, what do you hope she or he would gain from observing you?
I hope no young person is learning anything from comedians. The comedian outlook is unhealthy at best – you feel like an undercover cop, making reports on the world you’re inhabiting, only no one asked for the reports, and instead of a gun, you have low self esteem.
What advice would you give a 15-year-old Cameron James?
Buddy, let the skinny tie go. You don’t look like you’re in Franz Ferdinand, you look like a baby mortician. No-one will ask what you got in the HSC after Year 12, so chill out. Everything can be funny, and nothing has to be too serious. Also, in about 12 years there’s going to be a burger craze, and it is going to be amazing, so start exercising now to keep your metabolism quick. These words won’t mean anything to you yet, but one day they will be very special: brioche bun.
What is your most annoying trait?
I’d have to say it’s my tendency to start sentences with the phrase “I’d have to say”.
What is the one gift you will pretty much always re-gift?
I’ve never re-gifted in my life, I’m paranoid that it’d somehow get re-gifted back to the original gifter, and then we’d get caught in an unbreakable re-gift loop. I was raised Catholic, and the only part of that I haven’t shaken is the guilt factor. So even if I hate your present, I’ll still keep it and use it for like a decade.
What is your favourite lame quote or cliche?
“Follow your heart” is something I heard a lot as a kid, and definitely one of those bits of wisdom that seems nicer than it is. A lot of bad people have “followed their heart”! Charles Manson followed his heart. Pauline Hanson is following hers. We should amend it to “Follow your heart, but only if you’re not a dogshit person”.
You’ve been called “the next big thing” in the Australian comedy scene. Does that statement add any pressure to sustain the high level of hilarity you bring, or does it give you room to relax a little, knowing that your comedy is having a great effect?
I’ve also been called a “ginger bearded knob” by a drunk guy at a gig once, so I think it’s best to not pay too much attention to either of those statements. I always want to make people laugh, but you don’t want to feel pressured. There’s nothing funny about a sweaty, nervous mess.
Unless it’s a Maury Povich paternity test.
What can we expect from your ‘88 show?
I was born in 1988, and this is an hour of funny stuff that’s happened between now and then. Jokes and stories about jobs I’ve lost, embarrassment, injuries, and petty victories. And if you’re lucky, maybe I’ll bring out the lyrics to a couple of those awful songs I wrote as a teenager, and we can all cringe together.
For full details on Cameron’s ’88’ tour, follow this link.