CHRIS HENRY The flair in there

Scottish award-nominated and international sell-out comedian, Chris Henry, returns to FRINGE WORLD with the follow up to his global smash Around The World In 80 Dates. With his trademark charm, wit and energy ripping through hilarious observations on the world we live in, catch the uncompromising FLAIR at The Gold Digger, Fringe Central from Wednesday, February 5 until Sunday, February 16. BRAYDEN EDWARDS spoke to Henry about taking his comedic content into deeper, darker territory while always retaining a laugh; whether it be with creating balloon animals for children or by rewarding people who “make Pauline Hanson sick.”

As someone who travels and performs right across the world, what do you find is particularly distinctive about Perth and the people here?

It’s a beautiful city. I love that all the tall buildings are concentrated in the CBD then the rest are low so when you are walking around you can always see the sky, a refreshing change from the claustrophobic Melbourne, and heavenly for a Scotsman who is alien to your clear blue skies! Whenever I’m here I’m spoiled by the people because everyone comes out for Fringe and are almost in holiday mode. Everyone is ready to have a good time and all they need is for me not to screw up. Despite being a city that’s blessed with beautiful surroundings, good weather and a strong economy, the people of this city do love a good moan. That said, in the five years I’ve been coming here, it’s been great to see the rise in support for both the LGBTQI+ community and indigenous peoples’ rights.

And what’s changed in the world of Chris Henry since the last time you were here?

Last time I was here I fell in love with a lovely girl from Perth and we got lost in our own little love bubble. But distance and time has put a lot of strain on that relationship and the bubble burst, even though I still think she is amazing. Wait, I’m supposed to be a comedian and give funny answers. Since we broke up, I’ve lost 5kg in three weeks, so some might say heartbreak makes the ass get tighter. Also, my friend is standing next to me and also made me tell you, my hairline has changed too.

Your new show FLAIR seems to have taken quite a different bent than your previous shows and deals with some heavy themes. What was it that inspired that?

I think as a comedian it can be part of the job to make any subject less heavy. Humour is a universal language and laughter helps strangers to bond. With FLAIR I’ve tried to find a way for us to talk about what it’s like to be different on a level that everyone understands, because there isn’t one person I know that hasn’t felt out of place at some point in their life. There is a theory that comedy is tragedy plus time, with this show I’m trying to use comedy to help prevent tragedy ahead of time.

And what’s this concept about nominating people who “make Pauline Hanson sick”? Who makes a good candidate for something like that?

As part of travelling with the show, I wanted to give out FLAIR awards to local people who had made a positive impact on other people’s lives but who might be a bit different and sit outside what we deem “normal”. I figured even though I don’t have celebrity status, or have any sort of TV show, it would still be a fun way to show that even when individuals have had to fight harder for acceptance, we can still acknowledge their contribution to society.

On another note, you’re also bringing the fun to Fringe with Balloonatics, a comedy show for children. What is the most difficult balloon animal, or other creation, to make?

I was doing the show last week and one of the kids asked “What’s the most complicated thing I’ve ever made out of balloons?” My response was “A career”. Balloonatics is nonsense and chaos for an hour. I try not to do anything complicated in the show because, to be honest, watching great balloon models being made is impressive at the end but is pretty boring to watch. So I wrote a show with the ethos that you don’t have to be good at something for it to be fun. It’s total balloon buffoonery, with plenty of jokes for both the adults and the kids.

Comedians always seem to be picking up ideas for new material throughout their travels. What in the world are you finding particularly funny or amusing right now that might become the theme of your shows in the future?

The rise of white supremacy and incel culture, while I find it terrifying, I also find it hilarious. It’s the opposite of BDE, a bunch of angry men that are angry because they are insecure and don’t want things to change or see anyone as equal, so they puff their chests and shout and call names, all because the generation before them convinced them they are somehow superior.

The last time I did anything like that was my fifth birthday party, when my mum re-wrapped a box of Maltesers I’d gotten as a present and used it to play pass the parcel. When I didn’t win, I went on to have a petulant hissy fit because it was my birthday and those were mine and I don’t want to share and they’re mine mine mine! So anytime I see these people getting angry, I just want someone to give them sweets and a hug.

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