Laughter is the Best Medicine

Comedian Tom Gleeson on telling jokes & staying humble

I’m Tom Gleeson I’m here to give you some life advice. My first piece of advice is don’t waste too much time online. So don’t watch this. [Sigh] I think the secret to telling a great joke is all about surprise. All comedy seems to come down to surprise. So even telling it needs to be a surprise. So, a very bad way to tell a joke is to say, “Would you like to hear a joke?” That’s the worst way to start a joke. I had an Uber driver the other day, “Would you like to hear some jokes?” I said, “No.” And he told me anyway. He told me three in a row that I’d heard before. It’s like, “Mate, I hear jokes — I’m across jokes.” [Laughs] Laughter and sadness I find are very close together, it’s like pleasure and pain It’s like when you’re laughing really hard, like a deep proper laugh, I often find you’re laughing at something that’s really, really bleak. So, I feel like those two emotions go together. I mean, if you think about it, quite often if you laugh too much you start to cry and sometimes you could be crying and the only thing that stops it is laughter. So, I feel like laughter and crying, they’re very closely linked. Well it’s really boring, but the best advice I’ve been given is to be reliable. In the comedy industry there aren’t many people that are that reliable. So, turn up on time and get the job — turn up on time and do your time, that’s what you’ve gotta do. I reckon there’s a lot of —there’re a lot of very, very, very funny comedians who are not reliable. It’s the average ones like me that make it! If I could talk to my 15-year-old self I would say, “Go straight into comedy and leave high school because you’re not going to use any of it.” I wasted a lot of time getting to comedy. I wrote poetry, I was in plays, I was in bands. All of that was just a waste of time because I was trying to get front-and-centre ‘cause I like showing off in front of people, so if I could’ve just jumped straight to that I didn’t start til I was 19, so I wasted four years. So if I — so 15-year-old-me just host a quiz show now. Just get straight into it. I’m a champion at being humble, so I recommend the best way to be humble is to make sure everybody knows. There’s no point being humble if no one knows that you’re humble. So, if you are humble you have to promote it heavily, through whatever media you have available. So, maybe if you’re going to be humble do it on your Instagram, in a bikini. You don’t apologise to people, whatever you do. That’s one thing I’ve learnt. If you offend someone it’s their fault for being sensitive. And they don’t have a sense of humour, that’s what you do, you make it their fault. It’s never my fault, ever. The hard truth Australia needs to hear is, we aren’t as good as sports as we think we are. Australian’s like to think that we’re all relaxed but we’re not, we’re actually really quite uptight. Go to the airport, pass through security and you’ll see a lot of clenched arseholes. Everyone’s very, very tense. People could do well to have a sense of humour all the time not sometimes.

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