After years of being part of group-based performances in the comedy industry, Sydney-based funnyman Jeromaia Detto will be debuting his first solo show Canapés and Cocktails at this year's Adelaide Fringe festival.
In anticipation of his arrival to Adelaide with his show, which will be premiering in Adelaide for the first time, I was able to score an e-interview with Detto, where we discussed about his show and his decision to take the brave step of taking on the task of performing in a solo show - have a read of our exchange below:
Tema: Can you tell us a bit about yourself, Jeromaia? Jeromaia: As the great Charlie Chaplin once said, "A day without laughter is a day wasted." Whether I realized it or not, this is a mindset I've carried with me for quite some time. It underpins much of who I am and how I go about my day to day existence. I have been performing comedy for about 6 years, with a background in improvised theatre and, more recently, clowning and physical theatre. I started out like many, doing university theatre sports, despite not actually ever being a student. From there, I attended Improv Theatre Sydney (ITS) and fell more and more in love with not only performing but the rush of the instantaneous nature of improv. There was no room for editing or making sure things were perfect. It was living in the moment and working with what I had.
This then led me to becoming intrigued by the worlds of clowning, of breaking the 4th wall and engaging the audience. Since graduating from ITS in 2016, I've travelled around the world to study at Gaulier in France, as well as iO Chicago and Norway Clown Camp. All of these experiences have helped me develop and grow into the performer I am today. When I'm not performing I still perform! I work at a science museum in Programs and Education and also with the Starlight Foundation as a Captain Starlight at children's hospitals in Sydney. Life for me is often one big show full of imagination and playfulness, it's amazing - Even when I was pick-pocketed in Amsterdam, it ended up being a show as I was live-streaming at the time!!! I love a bit of a boogie; attending many dance music events - both in Sydney and overseas - and I'm a diehard Sydney Swans supporter as well.
Tema: What inspired you to come up with the concept of your show Canapés & Cocktails? Jeromaia: Over the years, I've seen many many people perform solo shows. Great comedians like Steen Raskopoulos, Susie Youssef, Luke Nowell and Fran Middleton showed me what was possible with solo comedy and made me hungry to have a go at it. I had performed at various Fringe festivals through improv shows and a sketch show as a group or duo. But, with every passing Fringe, I would watch people's solo shows and think, "This could be me!". Like all Fringe performers, I had half-written a few bits and pieces in an old notebook, ready for maybe putting it in a show one day. This day came in 2018 and after being accepted for Sydney Fringe, the deadline was on and I needed to get a show together. I knew that I wanted to create a fun, playful atmosphere, with lots of variation to keep it vibrant and fresh. What kind of environment brings together different people from all walks of life? A cocktail party. This was the inspiration for the name, and ultimately the vibe of the show. A degustation of characters for the audience to sample and enjoy. I wrote up a bunch of little sketches, generating characters from samples of music or random props I had lying around. I then developed my 3 french waiter characters to serve as a bit of a through-line to the show, in keeping with the theme. Boom! 6 weeks later, I had a show and it was time to perform!
Tema: What is the premise of Canapés & Cocktails, in a nutshell? Jeromaia: The show is simply a collection of a bunch of characters I enjoy playing. The show starts with the audience being welcomed to a classic French restaurant and from there, they slowly meet some interesting individuals. We get to see a snapshot of their lives on stage. All of them have something to give, something they want to share with the audience. Through its interactive nature, the show allows the audience to meet these characters and share their joy, their frustration, their sadness.
Tema: What can people expect from attending Canapés & Cocktails? Jeromaia: People can expect a whole bunch of whimsical silly fun. It is very playful and one of my hopes is that the show can be a catalyst of sorts, for audience members to find that childlike sense of wonder and fantasy - something that a lot of people seem to lose along the way - in the serious no-nonsense nature of life.
Tema: How would you explain your performance to someone who has never been to your show before? Jeromaia: The show is light-hearted and fun. It is fairly fast paced but quite easy to digest. It is essentially made up of a bunch of characters in little sketches, so if there is a piece you don't like (which is impossible, because all the characters are great!), then you only have to sit through for three or so minutes. It is like eating a box of chocolates - every chocolate is different and sometimes there are two of one you really like, so you get to see them again later in the show!
Tema: Can people expect actual canapés and cocktails at your show?! Jeromaia: Unfortunately due to health and safety, there aren't any actual canapés and cocktails, but, audiences might get a little treat at the end of the show!
Tema: How did you get involved with the Adelaide Fringe (AF)? What made you want to be a part of AF? Jeromaia: I had first heard about the Adelaide Fringe a couple of years into my career and since then, it became a goal of mine to take a show to Adelaide! It wasn't until last year, however, that I decided to have a crack at it. I found myself involved in 2 shows, a duo clown/sketch show and an improvised Aussie soap opera. I was also fortunate enough to be a guest on a few other locally-run Improv shows. It was a wild 2 weeks of performing! I've been able to meet some incredible people from all around the world and being able to perform for a few nights in a row is always a great opportunity! I had so much fun that it is now something I will try to do every year!
Tema: How many years have you been involved with AF? How have found the experience(s) of being involved with AF? Jeromaia: This will be my second year performing at Adelaide Fringe. It is incredibly fun. Of course, it's challenging to get audiences, especially when you are new to the scene and touring from interstate. Despite how hard this can be and the potential financial strain it can cause, the buzz around town is infectious and very addictive.
Tema: How do you feel about performing a solo show at the Adelaide Fringe? What are you anticipating from the Adelaide Fringe this year? Jeromaia: I am so excited to share my show with the people of Adelaide Fringe! I've already had some tickets sold which is really great. After 99% of my performances in the last 5 years being group based, I'm enjoying being a little bit selfish and taking the stage for myself! This year, I'm anticipating a lot of discovery, as all of the characters will have room to grow and evolve over the course of the tour.
Tema: Have you taken your performances interstate / overseas? If so, where have you performed and what has that experience been like? Jeromaia: So far, I have performed this show at Sydney Fringe. I'll be doing some shows in Perth as well (just before Adelaide), so I am looking forward to the experience!
Tema: Are you doing any other shows during the Adelaide Fringe? Jeromaia: At this stage, it is just my solo show. Hopefully, I can be involved in a couple of improv shows around town - who knows?!
Tema: Is there anything else that you'd like your audience / our readers to know about you and your show(s)? Jeromaia: Fringe is all about taking a punt. Some of the best (and worst) comedians in Australia started out at Fringe festivals around the nation. We all start somewhere and are so incredibly grateful to all who come to watch. There will probably some hiccups (like, things probably may not go to plan), but that's all part of the beauty of Fringe! If you can, for every big name you see, try to see one of the up and comers and support emerging artists. There are so many out there and you will, no doubt, stumble upon some gold! It's just like appetizers at a party - you can never be 100% sure what's in them, but sometimes they taste amazing, and sometimes those canapés are touring at Adelaide Fringe!
Jeromaia Detto's show Canapés and Cocktails will be performing at the Tandanya Arts Cafe from March 13 - 17.
Book your tickets to his show here and follow Detto on Facebook to keep up with his adventures throughout the Adelaide Fringe season.