Comedy Fest Chat: Nicholas J Johnson and Sarah Jones

When the Honest Conman (Nicholas J Johnson) offers games, treats and balloon animals, you won’t be ripped off. He’s teaming up with ventriloquist Sarah Jones for a Pajama Party at the Comedy Festival. It’s about friendship and parties, but expect some black sprinkles on the fairy bread.

Pajama Party, Sarah and Nicholas
Sarah and Nicholas

What MICF shows are you most looking forward to seeing?
Ben Mckenzie’s Uncool: It’s about damn time geek comedy’s patron saint performed a solo show.

Rob Hunter’s Late O’Clock: A late-night talk show with the festival’s top comedians that takes the art of awkward to new heights.

What makes MICF different from all the other festivals?
Unlike other arts festivals, the comedy festival is dedicated to making people giggle so there is a hell of lot less navel gazing and way more belly laughs. And that can only be a good thing.

What do you insist that visiting artist goes to in Melbourne?
Kryall Castle, it’s a ye olde castle shaped theme park built in the 70s out on the road to Ballarat. It was almost turned into a medieval style brothel a few years ago but was rescued and restored to its former glory. It is a bastion of medieval European culture and surly teenage employees being forced to wear jester costumes.

What comedians/performers have influenced you the most?
Working together as a duo we’ve drawn inspiration from all the great double acts like Lano and Woodley, Morecambe and Wise and the Two Ronnies.

What’s advice do you wish you’d been given before your first gigs?
Believe in yourself. Actually we wish anyone had said that to us at any point in our lives. It probably would have stopped the crippling self esteem issues that led us into a career in comedy in the first place.

Do you do still your own leafleting? Can you tell us something great or horrific that’s happened to you when leafleting?
It’s great when you do your own leafleting and a few hours later you see a bunch of new friend you’d flyered in the audience. The worst feeling isn’t when people don’t take it, it’s the occasional person who will take the leaflet, read it and then silently and disdainfully hand it back.

What’s the best (or worst) thing a review has said about you or your show?
Nicholas once got described in a review as having a ‘pumpkin shaped head full of secrets’ and another review once spent two of the three paragraphs discussing the pros and cons of Sarah’s hair.

If you could invite anyone to see your show (and you know they would come), who would it be?
In theory it would sound amazing to have our comedy heros attend the show, but we’ve learnt from experience that there is nothing more terrifying than performing in front of your idols. So, really, any old chump off the street would do as long as they pay full price.

What comedian (alive or dead) do you wish you’d seen live?
We can’t agree who we wish we’d seen live, but we both wish we’d been there for the death of Tommy Cooper. The man dropped dead on stage and the audience didn’t realise and fell about laughing.

When did you realise that being funny is the career for you?
It is? Hey Sarah, this website says funny is the career for us!

What’s the best heckle you’ve received?
Nicholas once had a one legged man threaten to kick his arse.

Is there anything you’re not prepared to joke about?
We’re not prepared in any way shape or form. Anyone who comes to our show will see that.

Anne-Marie Peard

Anne-Marie spent many years working with amazing artists at arts festivals all over Australia. She's been a freelance arts writer for the last 10 years and teaches journalism at Monash University.

Anne-Marie Peard

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