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JP: Normal People Are Just People You Don't Know That Well

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by Tema (subscribe)
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Photo supplied by Benjamin Maio Mackay

After years of performing as a support act in multiple Fringe shows, JP has put forth his very own debut show, following a successful FringeView season. The show delves into the concept of 'normal' by encompassing his experiences of traveling around Australia and across the globe.

In anticipation of his performance at the upcoming Adelaide Fringe Festival, JP and I had a chat around his show - have a read of our exchange below:

Tema: Can you please tell us a bit about yourself, JP? What is your personal life story?
JP: I fell in love with performing when I was enrolled into a drama school at the age of four by my mother, since then I have immersed myself into theatre, both on and off the stage. I studied Stage Management and Technical operations at Adelaide College of the Arts, and have taken part in many theatre and stage shows over the last two and a half decades. In that time, I have written sketches, and one-act shows as well as winning best Actor with Venture Theatre Company in the performance of Shadowville in 2015.

At the end of 2011, I made the decision to try my hand at Stand-up comedy and on January 12th 2012 I walked onto the stage for the first time as a comic in Tasmania. I was on holiday there and thought it would be a great place to have my first set as I would hardly know any people and it wouldn't matter if I did well or not. From that spot, I enrolled into the national competition Class Clowns – a stand-up comedy competition for high school students and made state finals in March of 2012. Over the coming years, I started performing at an open mic at the old Rhino room of Frome St. and doing spots on fringe shows.

Then in July of 2017, I was camping in Iceland when I found an opportunity to perform in a northern town called Akureyri; it was held in a farm barn in the parklands of Kjarnaskógur. 540 people got crammed into it, the stage – if you could call it that was only big enough to hold a mic stand a chair – no room for to walk around. The front row – their knees against the edge of the stage, the staircase to the loft had two or three people on every step and the loft itself was standing only due to their being no room to sit. The show's line up was only musicians until I walked onto the stage – the following 15 minutes would turn into my best gig yet, and still is to date. Off the back of this performance, I was able to perform again at Lake Úlfljótsvatn outside of Reykjavik, where an outdoor concert was held in front of 3,500 people. Whenever I am asked how this set went, I reply with the truth - I was so nervous! I walked out there and as soon as I got that first laugh, I zoned out and did my set. I honestly have no idea what happened during my time on stage.

These two gigs have had so much impact on the way I have gone about performing ever since and are extremely close to my heart. One other time I performed overseas that really sticks out was on a bus travelling from France to Switzerland, I believe this a really unique gig because when do you ever see stand-up on a bus?! When I have not been travelling, I perform as much as I can around Adelaide.

Sourced from the Adelaide Fringe website

Tema: What motivated you to build the concept of your show?
JP: After nine years of doing spots on other people's Fringe shows, I was beyond ready for my first solo show. I wrote the show wanting to not do a show that was my best of but to have a show that was going to open up other ways of performing and being more intimate with the audience, which isn't always possible with open mic spots.

Tema: What can audiences anticipate from attending your show?
JP: A show that is endearing, where I talk about the challenges of navigating fatherhood for the first time and the toxic masculinity that surrounds it.

Tema: What do you hope for your audiences to take away from attending your show?
JP: Other than an enjoyable show that makes them laugh, hopefully, an understanding of why it is okay to have an open mind with the way the world changes these days, and that it is completely fine to make a fool of yourself when you misunderstand other humans.

Tema: What encouraged you to apply for a spot in the Adelaide Fringe?
JP: Having my own solo show has been a goal that I set myself around four years ago, and I finally believed that I was ready to put forth a piece of work that was worthy of being put on in the world's second-largest festival of its kind.

Photo supplied by Benjamin Maio Mackay

Tema: How has COVID-19 impacted on your ability to function in the 'new normal'?
JP: As someone who is an essential worker during the day, my everyday life has not changed much over the last 12 months. I am lucky enough to live in Adelaide, where for the majority of the time, we have had a firm handle on any outbreaks. This has allowed myself and many other performers – not just comics – to be able to take the stage over the last eight months.

Tema: How did COVID-19 shape your passion for the performing arts?
JP: Australia went into National lockdown two days after Adelaide Fringe ended last year. Between the Adelaide fringe ending last year and when shows started up again in late June – I put so much time into writing so that whenever shows did start up again I was ready to come out with new stuff. I have become more driven towards writing and I make an effort to sit down every night to write, which is something that I started from not being able to perform.

Tema: What are you hoping to achieve from your participation at Adelaide Fringe?
JP: I am looking forward to learning what it is like to have my own hour, to be able to have more stage time on one night than I have been able to have before and learning ways to not only better my show but myself as a performer.

Tema: In addition to running your very own Fringe show, what are some other shows that have caught your interest this season that you hope to attend?
JP: There are so many, of course, Bella Green's award-winning show Charging For It, [Late night] Panel Show is another, and of course, as a long-time fan I will be seeing Ross Noble.

Tema: Is there anything else that you'd like us to know about yourself and the show?
JP: When you come to my show, you may be surprised by what you see on stage, and be ready to learn that no one is really "normal"

JP: Normal People Are Just People You Don't Know That Well will be performed at the Mercure Grosvenor Hotel Adelaide, as part of Adelaide Fringe on February 25, March 4, and March 11, 2021. Tix can be purchased here.

Photo supplied by Benjamin Maio Mackay
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Why? 'Normal People Are Just People You Don't Know That Well' will delve into the dark depths of JP's bizarre personality and uncover hilarious anecdotes from a mind that is far from
When: Feb 25, Mar 4, Mar 11
Where: Mercure Grosvenor Hotel Adelaide
Cost: $10 - $50
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