Actor Dion Williams is about to leap out of his comfort zone, swapping television drama for the sweaty-palms world of stand-up comedy.
Williams, who has appeared in shows including Gallipoli and Redfern Now, is one of 15 finalists who will take to the stage this Saturday for ‘Deadly Funny’, a national search for Australia’s funniest Indigenous talent.
The competition is run as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.
Melbourne-based Williams says he’s always loved comics such as Bernie Mac, Steve Harvey and Eddie Griffin.
“I thought it would be something good to have a crack at,” he says. “See how I go, if I’m funny or not.”
Williams says the stand-up comedy stage a far more nerve-wracking than a TV set.
“It’s completely different,” he says. “You’ve got the live audience so the feedback is straight away.
“It’s a lot different to filming something and waiting for it to air and then getting the feedback after it’s aired.
“I’m so much more nervous doing stand-up than doing acting.
“With acting you get one or two goes at it even if you stuff your lines up, but with stand-up you don’t get a second go at it. I’ve got to have my combinations ready to go before I step out on stage.”
Melbourne International Comedy Festival director Susan Provan says this year’s ‘Deadly Funny’ competition will have the largest number of finalists in its 11-year history, with finalists coming from all over the country.
The funniest performer on the night will receive a $2000 cash prize and mentoring.
Provan says the new crop of would-be comics may have been inspired by those that have blazed the stage ahead of them.
“Maybe they’ve been given confidence by shows that they’ve seen recently,” she says. “Like the Aboriginal (Comedy) All Stars group, many of whom who are mentors and workshop leaders for Deadly Funny.
“They’ve been doing so much touring over the last couple of years.
“Being able to see other Indigenous performers who are doing really well must give people who have been thinking about whether or not they should dip their toe in the water a bit of confidence and think ‘Yeah, I’m going to go for it this year.’”
By Wendy Caccetta
* The Deadly Funny finals will be held at the Melbourne Arts Centre at Fairfax Studio on Saturday (April 8) at 4.30pm. Tickets are $23.50 and available from comedyfestival.com.au or Ticketmaster on 1300 660013.