Australian treasure and funny man, Alex Williamson has had a huge start to 2019 with a string of sold out tour dates behind him and a sixth Edinburgh Fringe just on the horizon. This year alone he’s performed to 21 big theatres across the country.
He’s well known for his social media presence and alter egos: from Alex’s Sweet Dream Team a decade ago to Loosest Aussie Bloke, and Shooter Williamson. Despite touring the world through comedy circuits, Williamson still manages to churn out his social content, one bogan character at a time.
We caught up with Williamson ahead of his Edinburgh stint to chat about his current tour, his comedy inspo, and of course, his Twitter beef with BTS fans.
Music Feeds: How has your festival run been?
Alex Williamson: It was fantastic it was probably the favourite one to date. I didn’t have any sleepless nights at nightclubs before going to perform or anything awful like I’ve done in the past. I was a very responsible adult and put on a show for 800 people a night for a handful of nights there, in a beautiful theatre that I’m surprised I’m allowed into, let alone to perform on stage.
MF: So, Sin On My Face is all about unleashing your “inner sick f*ck”, what can fans expect?
AW: They can expect to see a little bit more of my personality, a little bit more of who I am because I hide before various masks when I’m doing the videos online and you don’t get to really know who I am, what sort of caring, thoughtful person I really a— no, that’s not true. I am an absolute sick f*ck. Ahh in the flesh and in the videos. So you won’t be disappointed if you have a pretty dark sense of humour.
MF: For fans that’ve seen your all your social content but haven’t made it along to a show yet, what do you reckon the main difference is?
AW: Ahh shit, I sort of answered that then accidentally. Ahh let me think of a.. Ahhh… I think the main difference is it’s a bit more of a raw performance because in the videos you get to use the jump cuts and these editing tricks that can add some comedy. But when it’s just me and a microphone telling a story I think it would be exciting to see it not edited and in real time if you will. And be able to be dragged on to ten minutes, fifteen minutes, rather than a quick mention in an Instagram video. You get to see my true storytelling ability when I’m on stage.
MF: Edinburgh Fringe is coming up, is there more of a challenge performing internationally, where fans might not be familiar with the bogan kind of humour?
AW: Yeah I mean, they’re pretty into it over in the UK. I can’t work out if they’re laughing with me or at me over there, because I think they just find Aussie stuff funny. I feel like I could be in the London Zoo in like the bogan enclosure and people would be like, “Look Mum there’s a bogan!” And they’d come up and get a photo and then walk off. That’s what it’s been like when I’ve been over there. But I think they really do appreciate the dark humour because they’re into Jim Jeffries, I just have to change my jokes somewhat. Because some of the things aren’t culturally relevant that we say here in Australia. For example, there was a joke where the punchline I had when I used it in Australia was just Shannon Noll. So when I took it over there for the UK, I didn’t realise that Shannon Noll wasn’t a superstar, I thought he was like Taylor Swift. But nah, they didn’t know Shannon. So I had to change him to whatever crap thing theirs is over there which is Wales, the country… and the joke worked fine.
MF: I’m sure you knew this one was coming, but bring us up to speed on the debacle with BTS’ fans?
AW: Oh! That was pretty full on! Getting death threats from 14 year olds. But really cute death threats, I was like, “oh that’s sweet.” I could tell like a 10 year old had written it and what not. Well they tried to say a segment on a Channel 9 TV show was racist, when all they were doing is making fun of boy bands in general. They would’ve done the same for Backstreet Boys, they would’ve done the same for One Direction, it’s all a gimmick, that stuff. So, they were sort of hinting at that and then all the fans said it was racist, for whatever reason.
MF: So you thought you better jump in?
AW: And that’s when I jumped in, with a few explicits, said, “pull ya head in”. And they didn’t appreciate that, [they] thought that I worked at Channel 9 and they tried to get me fired from a job I don’t even have, I don’t even work. Like I’m just gonna walk around in my… what is this? A robe today. So, it’s all good. Didn’t really have any effect other than kind of laughing… It gave me a good time laughing at the comments and the angry fans that all messaged. Literally everyone had a picture of BTS as their profile picture.
MF: You got some pretty savage Twitter mentions, did you have a favourite or a standout?
AW: Ahh yeah! There was one that was like, four things that are gonna happen: you’re gonna lose your family, you’re gonna die, you’re gonna lose your job (I thought that was an interesting order of things like I’m gonna die, then I’m gonna lose my job) in less than five hours, how does it feel? So they were really specific with the time and I was getting the sweats up when it was four hours and 50 minutes that had passed. I thought, I’ve just gotta get through ten minutes here. Low and behold I’m fine, I’m here today, so all good.
MF: You’ve gone from making Alex’s Sweet Dream Team in your bedroom, to interviewing on the red carpet, now you’re playing sold out shows across Australia and you’re on your way to play a sixth Edinburgh Fringe, is there a stand out moment or highlight for you?
AW: Maybe just not overdosing at any of the festivals, that’s probably a highlight of all time, especially when the coke’s really strong in the UK. But as far as work, probably when I went over to meet Sacha Baron Cohen. He saw my videos and flew me over to LA to help do a promo video for one of his up and coming films. We got sushi for lunch and just talked shop and it was really amazing. He even asked my advice on a couple of small things that he was working on so that was just incredible. So yeah, that’d be the highlight.
MF: How do you manage to tour so frequently and still come up with and produce so much social content?
AW: It’s because I get to dedicate all my time to it. If I was studying or having to work part-time, it wouldn’t be as consistent. It’s still barely consistent at the moment, I get a bit slack at times, but it’s just a motivation thing, you wanna be growing your fan base, getting better at what you do, honing your craft. By posting regularly, it’s just like going to footy training. You get slightly better at everything you’re doing, whether it’s at performing or the camera side of things. There’s always room for improvement.
MF: How important do you think having that social content is even when you’re doing standup as well?
AW: Well it really helps drive the shows. Because I’m not really in TV and movies at all. There’s a few things that pop up occasionally but when you’re not getting consistent work there you do need to make sure you’re getting people along to shows, trying to grow your audience in the live comedy scene. By doing these videos online and accruing these numbers of social media fans and having them there at your fingertips, not as psycho as the BTS ones though. That’s the goal. I think for any performer in 2019, that is the goal, to get those social media numbers up.
MF: Comedians will often cite a classic kind of comedian like Jerry Seinfeld or Carl Barron when they’re asked how they got into comedy, but your style is pretty different which was probably helped by getting your start on Youtube and social media. Is there someone in particular that influenced your start in comedy?
AW: I mean like stand up comedy, there’s a guy called Eddie [Izzard]. He’s a cross dresser, he’s amazing, from the UK. I watched him when I was 13 and from that moment on I wanted to be a standup comedian of some sort at some point. But I had a very vast range of weird comedy that I watched even as a small kid, you know I’d be watching South Park and then like Frasier or The Vicar of Dibley or some weird, old, obscure BBC comedy or something. It’s kind of all really funny. I’m from a generation where there was some great British comedy and American comedy growing up. It was a nice time to grow up — not that it’s not now — but there were some great ones.
MF: Where would you say the inspiration for your bogan characters comes from?
AW: It just comes from the people I know, the people I meet, I live in a pretty regional part of Australia. So it’s always humorous just going up to the local service station or the local footy and seeing the characters. God forbid if I have to go to the Noarlunga Train Station. It’s a weird spot to live. When I travel the world people are like Adelaide?! I’m like yeah I know… But it’s a chill time and I meet these characters and they give me ideas for my videos. Some of my friends are hilarious.
Alex Williamson just wrapped up an Australian tour and is heading to Scotland for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, check out dates here.
Alex Williamson Edinburgh Fringe Shows
Thursday, 1st – Sunday, 25th August
Just the Tonic at La Belle Angele, Edinburgh Fringe (Scotland)
Tickets: Ed Fringe