Corey White, comedian, Brisbane Comedy Festival
I think fear of the problems in the world getting worse was a big animating force. I wanted to be hopeful and constructive in suggesting remedies ...
In a lot of ways, humour is used as a mechanism for addressing confronting subject matter. It can be used to alleviate seriousness and make the discussion of topic approachable, but for Corey White it provided an opportunity to reconcile with his past. Emerging on the scene in 2014, Corey turned heads with his intensely personal brand of comedy, drawing upon experiences growing up in foster care, grappling with drug addiction and continual struggle with mental illness. Since his first performance, Corey has become one of Australia’s must-see comedic acts, racking up numerous accolades along the way. In addition to his stand-up performances, last year saw Corey debut his own television series Corey White’s Roadmap to Paradise, in which he analysed and discussed several of the world’s problems and how they might be fixed. Corey is bringing his new stand-up show X-Ray to this year’s Brisbane Comedy Festival, and we couldn’t be more excited to catch it. Before he takes to the stage, we caught up with Corey to talk about his career to date and what we can expect from his new set.
We’d love to start by finding out what originally brought you to comedy. Where did your stand-up story begin?
I started in 2008 after a friend suggested I try it! My first gig was an open mic at the Newmarket Hotel and I performed to awkward coughs plus a solitary pity laugh from a man in a hi-vis vest. That one reluctant chuckle hooked me.
What would you say was the biggest influential factor in the development of your style of humour?
I had an atypical childhood growing up in foster care, so I’ve always felt like an outsider.
Your debut show The Cane Toad Effect was notable for its unflinching personal recollections as well as its humour. How did turning these stories into comedy help you reconcile with events from your past?
Compressing experiences that were often painful into jokes required introspection and detachment, which are useful skills to have.
You’ll soon be in town for the Brisbane Comedy Festival with your new solo comedy show X-Ray in tow. We hear it pokes fun at many aspects of life – relationships, food and exercise, for example. In your opinion, what do you think is the funniest thing about the more mundane aspects of living?
Encountering bureaucracy and being crushed by it. Being defeated by a parking ticket inspector, real estate agent or a bouncer. The indignity of it all.
How do you go about piecing together your shows? Do you scrap your material and start fresh each year or do you update your material with new bits and pieces?
Fresh start, always! You get onstage with half-baked material you thought of in the shower and then you bomb until the bits coalesce into routines that work.
Your television show Corey White’s Roadmap to Paradise saw you address different issues facing everyday Australians – some of which you have personal experience with. What inspired you to base your show on such an altruistic premise?
I don’t know if is an altruistic premise because these things affect me equally. I think fear of the problems in the world getting worse was a big animating force. I wanted to be hopeful and constructive in suggesting remedies.
What would you say is the message that you try to convey to audiences through your comedy?
When I was younger I wanted to share stories and ideas that might spark empathy. Nowadays, I don’t think I really have a message. I enjoy just being funny.
After this comedy festival season, what are you excited to accomplish in 2019?
Publishing my memoir in July! It’s called The Prettiest Horse In The Glue Factory and we’re in the final stages of editing.
Finally, what are you finding most inspiring about the world around you?
My partner Sophie. Readers are cordially invited to purchase tickets to my show to find out why.