Listen to the audio interview of British comedian Jeff Green by clicking here.
Morry Morgan: Jeff Green. Thank you very much for your time today.
Jeff Green: Hello Morry. Well, we know each other anyway, because I’ve done some mentoring for some of your School of Hard Knock Knock participants and have done a couple of your gigs and I’ve got some more coming up.
Morry Morgan: Yes, that’s it. That’s it. I live 800 metres from this room that we are recording in. So, it couldn’t be more serendipitous.
Jeff Green: Yep. We’re in the board room of mushroom music, the nerve centre where Michael Gudinski signed Ed Sheeran and Jefferies for huge tours.
Morry Morgan: Fantastic.
Jeff Green: We are sat amongst wonderful posters of all of his touring successes.
Morry Morgan: It is a grand room to be in. Well, let’s talk about you Jeff. So, Jeff, I saw you as an audience member, knowing the name Jeff Green, and possibly a couple of YouTube videos and my wife and I went to see you in … it wasn’t ’97, it was 2017, and it was at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Hilarious, there you were in the glow, almost godly with the spotlight on you and then I went up to introduce myself afterwards and accidentally bumped into you near the sound board I think. We had a great chat. That was the beginning. You don’t remember. That’s fine. I’m a nobody. So, that’s how we began our relationship and then you thought that wacko’s gone. I bumped into you again at the local primary school because we live in the same neighbourhood as well. So, sorry about that.
Jeff Green: Well, we live in the village of Melbourne, which is great, it’s what I love about it. You get to hang out and connect with people who I normally wouldn’t do. If I lived in London, you’re very isolated in London, which I was there for 30 years. You do your gigs, you go home, you’re in your car and it can be a very lonely experience. I don’t mind that. I like being on my own. You have to like being on your own as a comedian, otherwise you’ll get found out. But, I also am quite enjoying the fact that I bump into people, although, I’ll be honest with you, it’s quite alien to me and I don’t normally … I’m not a naturally warm and effusive person. I don’t have many friends. Well, I’ve got lots of comedy friends, but they’re the people I’m comfortable around. I find small talk quite difficult actually.
Morry Morgan: I imagine. You make money out of talking. If I’m a plumber, I don’t want to go home and start working on my kitchen sink. Imagine it.
Jeff Green: Yeah, but I’m quite different because to a lot of comedians … a lot of comedians love chatting, they love holding court. Like Jefferies who we just mentioned, he will love having a yarn. David Johns and there’s a few UK comics, Bill Bailey. They love talking. I actually enjoy listening. It’s weird because my career could’ve gone either way. I could’ve been an interviewer or an interviewee. As it’s turned out, I’ve been interviewed more than I’ve done any interviewing, but I’m actually a better interviewer than I am as a subject in my opinion, but it just never fell that way.
Morry Morgan: There you go. Well, it’s like golf. It’s something you can do at any time of your life. Isn’t it? Being an interviewer. It’s not like-
Jeff Green: I suppose so, yeah.
Morry Morgan: You haven’t missed your prime. I’m sure we could [inaudible 00:07:48]. You’ve kind of covered over a couple of my questions. So, you did say you lived in London. I know that you grew up in Chester which I just want to throw this out there, Chester is the Chadstone of the UK. What I mean by that is it’s as famous for its shopping centre as it is for the town itself. Not a massive, enormous-
Jeff Green: Where did you get that from?
Morry Morgan: It’s the oldest shopping centre in the world.
Jeff Green: It is the oldest covered shopping centre. Yeah. It’s The Rows. You can walk around Chester and look in shops undercover, but they’re 12th century shopping precinct. Quite different to Chadstone, which I think is probably 12 hours old.
Morry Morgan: That’s right. What’s the…
Jeff Green: But I love Chadston, by the way. If we’re going to talk about Melbourne icons, I love shopping in Chadstone. That to me is where you want to go shopping, where you just get everything done. I don’t want to be getting in my car going from Chapel Street to the CBD then over down to South Melbourne, I want to get in, that’s how men like to shop, get in, get my stuff done and get out.
Morry Morgan: Yep.
Jeff Green: No browsing. I like the temperature of a shop to be around about eight degrees centigrade, not the 28 degrees that people think that we all want. I’m actually dying of heat stroke, trying on a pair of jeans. I want to be in, get my stuff, and gone.
Morry Morgan: Yep. Beautiful.
Jeff Green: That’s why I also like online shopping, although I never online shop for clothes because I … they’re never right. I have to feel them. I’m quite tactile.
Morry Morgan: You’re not an unusual shape Jeff.
Jeff Green: I’m not an unusual shape.
Morry Morgan: You’re fit. I know you ride a bike quite a lot, so you’re a fit guy.
Jeff Green: I’m fit.
Morry Morgan: Well, anyway. So, I thought I’d just throw that Chester thing in there because that was a little bit of information that people on this podcast probably didn’t know that I knew about, because I’ve been to Chester, because my mum’s from Rexon which is down the road and possibly the enemy of the Chester Football Club.
Jeff Green: It was.
Morry Morgan: It was.
Jeff Green: The only pitched battle I’ve ever been involved in was Chester versus Rexon in [inaudible 00:09:57] Road, which is where Chester used to play them, might even play there now. That was our Darby game. So, there was always [inaudible 00:10:05] and I’d be about 13 and was terrified, was chased down an alleyway.
Morry Morgan: Wow.
Jeff Green: Yeah. I went, I don’t think football hooliganism’s for me.
Morry Morgan: No, right. Britain. So, you came over to Australia in … now, I understand you met your now wife in ’99, but you probably … if I understand correctly, you did have a bit of a long distance relationship for a couple of years, didn’t you?
Jeff Green: Yes, we did. So, I came to Melbourne, in fact Australia in ’96 and with Joe Brand, we did a tour together, then I came back in ’97, then I came back in ’99, it’s when I met Fiona, my wife at the Melbourne Comedy Festival, at the Peter Cook bar and then we started dating online which in the 90s, there wasn’t much online, it was mostly emails. I had a little [inaudible 00:10:57] organizer and I used to email her from my [inaudible 00:10:59] and she used to email me from an internet room in various places. So, we dated for a couple of years and she would come to see me and I’d spend a fortune on telephone calls and stuff and then she eventually came to live with me in 2001. So, for two years we were seeing each other long distance and it was tough. It was really tough. I wasn’t seeing anyone else. Once I committed to her, that was it. So, a lot of the time it was waiting to catch up. But, we persevered and then she moved in with me in 2002 long term.
Morry Morgan: Yep, and that was in the UK?
Jeff Green: In the UK. [inaudible 00:11:51] Road in Islington.
Morry Morgan: Oh, right. There we go. There’ll be a plaque out the front of that place soon, won’t there? Jeff Green lived here. One of those monumentals. When you become an interviewer obviously. So, my understanding for your career was you were in the height of your comedy career in the UK, things were going really well for you, you were getting TV spots, you were being on all of the BBC radio and TV and other channels, the private channels, you were everywhere, and then you decided, no, bugger that, I’m going to start fresh, I’m going to go to a place called Australia, obviously you knew of it, and start from zero. What was going through your head? Because I believe there was a bit of family decisions in that big choice, it wasn’t a career decision as such.
Jeff Green: It wasn’t my career decision. Look, it was a complicated time. It was 2008, I was on tour, we had two children, my eldest was three and my youngest was nine months. I was on Celebrity Masterchef and I was doing all the [inaudible 00:12:57] and Jonathan Ross’ radio shows, had my own radio two series, my third series. Yeah, things were … I had a nice, lovely house in Hampstead, Ricky Gervais one side of me and Russell Brand the other and all of that. [inaudible 00:13:16]. So, I was part of a scene, and then my wife’s dad passed away and she came home to Melbourne and decided that she just could not face returning back to England because it was tough for her. She didn’t really settle. Having two little children in London as a mum a long way from home, we became friends with Tim [inaudible 00:13:43] and his wife, because they had a baby as well, so Fiona and Tim’s wife became Aussie wives abroad buddies and Simon [inaudible 00:13:55] wife Janet. There was a lot of … she used to call it the comedy wives club that they had. All these Australian wives that had been brought back to England almost as war brides. I know Tim’s obviously from Perth, but anyway, it suited the purposes. But, she wasn’t settled.
Jeff Green: So, I had to support her. I had to come and say, yeah, [inaudible 00:14:18] have to do it, sod my career. But, I was ready. I was really sensing that my life was boring. I knew the gigs I was going to get, I knew the money I was going to make, I knew the TV shows I was going to do and I’d been on that circuit for a while. It was very lucrative and from the outside, it looked very successful, but it had become mundane. So, I didn’t want to keep doing that. I wanted to try something completely different, which is a bit like when I started comedy, I was a chemical engineer and I had a great job and I had an office and I had a company car and I had an expense account and I had a pension and I went, I don’t want to do this anymore, I want to try something completely different. There’s an expression, do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got. I love that expression.
Jeff Green: So, I went, fuck it, I’m just going to go and I went. I didn’t even tell my agent. The last TV show I did in England was Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Road Show in Belfast. I went, I left my luggage in Heathrow Airport, I went to Belfast, [inaudible 00:15:22] passed away and I said … he said, oh, you know, my boy [inaudible 00:15:26] doing this. I went, “No, no, I’m going.” You’re not managing me anymore. I’ve had enough of you and I’ve had enough of England at this point, because I needed a new challenge. So, off I went. I started from scratch. so, I’m doing gigs in bloody Albury and I’m doing gigs in Geelong and Murray Bridge.
Morry Morgan: Yeah, in Adelaide, yeah.
Jeff Green: And tough gigs and wondering what I’m doing, but I had two little children that I need to feed. But, I loved it. I loved starting again. Really did. I love new challenges.
Morry Morgan: Yeah. I guess you’re lucky that you did that jump around the time that the internet was taking off, because there was record of you at your height. So, if anyone Googles you-
Jeff Green: Thank you.
Morry Morgan: Yeah, right. I mean, I believe you. I’m looking at you … I believe you’re a success and yeah, you’ve got your own radio show, sure Jeff, but then I Google your name and there it is. There’s Michael McIntyre. He’s shaking your hand, introducing you and you’re the next stage in an auditorium of 1000 people. Yeah. Kind of lucky in that sense. I don’t know. I’m just trying to see the silver lining. But, obviously you’ve already found the silver lining because-
Jeff Green: It’s still a struggle. I still have to find gigs and stuff to go to work. I’m not minted. I’m not ready to, in any way able and ready to retire. I still have to work, I still have to do shows which probably 20 years ago I’d have been going, are you sure? But, I don’t mind it. When you’ve got to look after children and feed them, you do anything. It takes all of the self importance away from you and that’s very liberating. So, I went, no, no, I’ve got to go and do that gig. When I was single, without children, I was going, oh, my status, my career and that means nothing. So, I don’t mind it. I’ll do any gig. I’m a much better comic now. Much better than when I was in England. I write better. I talk about different stuff. I was in a rut.
Jeff Green: I was talking about … I’d written three books and they were successful, but I was just writing the same joke I felt over and over again. So, I wanted to just have children, move countries and that just blows your mind wide open and to receive other stimulus. So, the gigs are tougher over here. I have to work harder, I have to speak quicker, I have to have more dense material. It has to be stronger. That’s only a good thing. I just performed in England at the Chester Comedy Festival and played the Chester town hall in front of these people who were fans, so it was not a tough gig, but it was a joy to present something to them. I hope that they thought, oh, Jeff’s not gone to seed, he’s not been put out to pasture, he’s actually still sharp, his material is still current and he still thoroughly enjoys performing because I do.
Morry Morgan: Yeah. Any jokes about the undercover shopping centers or Cheston?
Jeff Green: No, because they’d know them all. I mean, I did … I was having a look around and I would say, I’ve got my itinerary and I would name all these shops that I know don’t exist anymore, but they were there when I grew up and of course to get the recognition. Oh yes. It’s been that long since I’ve been back that Chester changes.
Morry Morgan: Yeah, sure.
Jeff Green: Even though it’s 2000 years old, it’s still reinventing itself.
Morry Morgan: Yeah. It’s a beautiful part of the UK. You sort of just talked about your new material. You talk a lot about your family in your stand up.
Jeff Green: For tax purposes.
Morry Morgan: Is that right? Okay. So they can go on tour, is that right?
Jeff Green: I could claim them as a business expense.
Morry Morgan: That’s great. Certainly when I see you in Melbourne, you talk a lot about Melbourne, you talk about the ’96 tram and you talk about coffee shops, there’s one for everyone now. That’s one of your gags. So, your life is not private anymore. I mean, you put it up on stage. Do you ever find that you … has your wife ever gone, no, don’t go there?
Jeff Green: Yes. She has. Only once. It was just a crass joke I was telling. She never actually said you can’t do it, but she just went, I’m not comfortable. In her way, I mean, Fiona, my wife is very strong willed, as a lot of Australian women are. They’re known for being strong willed and it’s probably why comedians fall for them, because it’s nice to have a … [inaudible 00:20:15] people that are less strong willed, but it is a trait in Australian women that they’re outspoken and that’s good and I like that and they’re funny. So, I enjoy their company. So, my wife is not a shrinking violet, but she’ll accept pretty much everything I say on stage. There’s always a colonel of truth in what I’m saying anyway. I mean, that’s what makes them hit the mark. But, she did. There was only one time. So, I dropped that routine. But yeah, it’s part of being … it goes with the territory as a comedian’s wife or partner, male and female, that you’re going to get talked about. I mean, I used to draw the analogy to … a musician writing a song about his girlfriend as many musicians do, well then, I will write a routine about my girlfriend as a homage to our relationship.
Morry Morgan: As long as it’s not rap because they’re generally derogatory about girlfriends.
Jeff Green: I do write rap jokes. I call them raps. Other people would call them poems, but I’m just trying to wind back the years. But yeah, I probably could write a rap routine about my wife, no problem.
Morry Morgan: Well, there you go. Well, so, you’re multi-talented. Rap we haven’t heard yet, but I’ll keep an ear open for that. You’re also a keynote speaker. I want to differentiate from a comedian and an MC that that’s one type of function that comedians do, but a key noter. A key noter, my understanding, the world that I come from did involve keynotes. These are the … I mean, they do get paid a lot of money the keynoters. They do get to fly business class, whereas a lot of comedians drive themselves there. You do a very good keynote on change. It’s called, Without Change, There Would Be No Butterflies, A Guide To Embracing Change. What you’ve just talked about over the last seven, eight minutes, obviously you’ve gone through a lot of change. What do you cover in this? This is kind of an after dinner presentation, no doubt you had humor, personal stories. What is that particular keynote?
Jeff Green: So, I walk people through the process of going from being a chemical engineer in the UK which is where I started, to being a stand up comedian in Australia. I take them on that journey. I mean, I talk about the things [inaudible 00:22:56], the things that … the reasons why I like change. I don’t [inaudible 00:23:03] and I do you say, lace it with lots and lots of humor about Australia, observations about being a chemical engineer, all of the elements and I talk about people saying, I couldn’t do what you did, I couldn’t change. Life is change. If we didn’t have change, Elton John would still be Reg Dwight. The internet would still be notes tied around pigeon’s legs and people would say, oh, did you get any emails? Oh no, didn’t get past my firewall. What’s that? That’s the name of me cat. So, you know, I put in as many jokes as I can, and then I talk about what change has given me.
Jeff Green: What I wouldn’t have achieved and what I wouldn’t have experienced if I hadn’t embraced change. I don’t do it enough, but it’s an enjoyable experience and it can enliven a dusty old conference, because I put a lot of energy into it and there’s a lot of belly laughs and hopefully … look, if it just allows one person to think, I’m not prepared to put up with the status quo, because it’s just … there’s just so much more. You shouldn’t be frightened of it. There’s so much more out there. So, that’s basically it. In all honesty, one of the things about being a comedian in Australia, as you know, there’s not many gigs. In the UK, I would do five gigs a night. I could start at eight o’clock at the Comedy Store and then I would go to do two gigs at the Banana and I would do another one down at the [inaudible 00:24:52] and then I would finish at The Comedy Store at two o’clock in the morning. So, that’s five. It’s quite rare. But, comedians used to do it regularly. Whereas, now, I might do five gigs a month. So, you have to be a little bit more flexible and that’s no bad thing as a performer. So, a keynote is another way of using my skills to pay the bills.
Morry Morgan: Yeah, absolutely. The keynote’s obviously targeting the B2B business, business to business. They have deeper pockets as well. So, in terms of the comedians that are listening to this, perhaps more the established comedians that do listen to this, because your name’s on the podcast, would that be an area that you could recommend people go to if they’ve been doing comedy for a bit?
Jeff Green: Always. Well, no, I’m not going to recommend it, because I don’t want the competition. But, I started out … I wanted a keynote about that, so I wrote my Melbourne International Comedy Festival show in 2015, called, Leaping From The Bell Curve, and I basically road tested tested all the elements of that story in front of a Melbourne Comedy Festival crowd, and then I condensed it down to 40 minutes. So, I made it bullet proof with a festival audience.
Morry Morgan: That’s great.
Jeff Green: So, I would recommend if you want to do that, I wouldn’t just leap into it, I would use all the festival opportunities that are open to us as performers in Australia, get it down, get it off pat and then take it to market.
Morry Morgan: Yeah, that’s a great idea. That’s great. Now, if I go way back, we’re out of chronological order here, but if we go way way back, you started comedy with Eddie Izzard I believe. Is that right?
Jeff Green: Absolutely.
Morry Morgan: And Jackson’s Lane Cabaret Workshop.
Jeff Green: Yes.
Morry Morgan: You’re smiling, so it’s a positive memory.
Jeff Green: It’s the defining memory of my career. So, I’d wanted to go to get into comedy. I’d been to the Comedy Store in 1987 and I’d seen these comedians. My friend asked me to go down there. My friend [inaudible 00:27:05], who’s … [inaudible 00:27:06] who was one of the UK’s main crown prosecutors, but I was at university with him and we were good mates and I was in my 20s and I’d been dumped by a girl and he went, “Jeff, come on, I’ll cheer you up, we’ll go to the Comedy Store, it’s the big thing.” It was the mecca in those days of stand up comedy. Stephen Fry would be there, Ben Elton, The Young Ones, [inaudible 00:27:29]. Kim Kenny used to look after it. So, I went down there, saw these comedians and I went, “This is what I want to do. I don’t want to be an engineer.” But, I didn’t really think I could make the leap from an engineer straight to open spot. People do. Anyway, Naz said to me, “Jeff, I’ve seen this thing in time out, Jackson’s Lane Cabaret Workshop for budding comedians and cabaret performers to learn about the comedy circuit.
Jeff Green: It’s five pounds, it’s on a Tuesday night. Why don’t you go down there?” I remember so clearly, even though it’s 30 years ago, I’m going … and he sent me the little thing and I went, “Yes, maybe that’s the baby step I need before the big …” so, I went down there and I sat next to Eddie and he was sat there with a guy called Bob Boyton presented to us. He was just an established comedian, would teach you about the scene. Not dissimilar to what you’re bringing to the Melbourne comedy scene with the School of Hard Knock Knocks. So, established comic, they would talk to you about comedy or cabaret as it was known in those days and Eddie had this big, long blue coat on and had a terrible reputation. Everyone thought, no, he’s not going to go anywhere. He’s just too weird. But, we became good friends and I remember coming on the tube back with him on the tube and him eating an apple and telling me that he went to Sheffield University because he’d [inaudible 00:29:03] two years earlier.
Morry Morgan: Sheffield’s a bit of a rough area, isn’t it?
Jeff Green: Sheffield Uni and he’d done economics I think.
Morry Morgan: Right.
Jeff Green: No, that was a well known-
Morry Morgan: Was it?
Jeff Green: Yeah, well known uni. Well thought of uni. I went to Birmingham uni. We just chatted about [inaudible 00:29:17] said goodbye and then we saw him again … we saw each other the following week and the following week and then we just became good friends. In fact, in one of his early documentaries, I think I’m the only comedian in it if you check it out. If you go on IMDB and see. I think I get a mention or one of his … I’ve never bothered to find it because I’m not self obsessed. But, maybe you want to.
Morry Morgan: For anyone listening to this, there you go, there’s your challenge.
Jeff Green: We had dinner. Because one of the joys of being in Melbourne is, although I don’t get to see all my friends every week like I used to, they still blow through. So, Bill Bailey’s coming in November and I will catch up with him, we’ll go bird watching or something. Eddie comes every now and again. In fact, last … name dropping. Last time I saw Eddie, we were having dinner outside, opposite the comedy theater. There was Eddie, Trevor Noah, Tom Gleason, Pete Hallier, Rove McManus, me and a couple of others and Adrian [inaudible 00:30:25], the lovely Adrian [inaudible 00:30:26] is a promoter and [inaudible 00:30:28], his son and we all sat and discussed Obama.
Morry Morgan: There you go. Well, if you wanted to jump up the hierarchy of comedy, you just bomb that room.
Jeff Green: [crosstalk 00:30:42] bomb that restaurant. Yeah. That’s it. We sound like name droppers, but they’re your contemporaries. You all tend to mix with the people that you started out with.
Morry Morgan: True.
Jeff Green: So, I see like people like Karl Chandler and Tommy Dasselo and that crowd, they all stick together. They cross [inaudible 00:31:08] and they come and say hello, but I’d be with Andrew [inaudible 00:31:12] and that’d be my crowd and your little group that you start out with. It’s great. That becomes your little group.
Morry Morgan: The little rat pack.
Jeff Green: Joel Creasey, Beckie Lucas. So, they all … I love it. And Mel [inaudible 00:31:29], that’s there. We’ve all got our own little ghettos.
Morry Morgan: Yeah, right. How does Khaled Khalafalla get into this then? Because he’s managed by Mushroom Comedy. I believe you actually helped him directly with his career, particularly in acting, because I know he did a whole bunch of spots, acting opportunities came up, he wasn’t so interested, you gave him a little bit of prep and then he got a big gig in a TV show, didn’t he?
Jeff Green: He’s a great actor. Yeah. He’s great. He’s a great talent. What I love is, I love talent. I love being around talent. So, that’s what draws me to the business and I miss talent, I miss talent being around on a daily basis, but when I see it, people like him and people like Joel Creasey and people like Alex Williamson, you can smell the talent on them. They’re great. They’re great comics. They’ve got the chops and stuff. I mean, there’s a whole long … Alice Fraser. So, Khaled is somebody I’d go … I got drawn to him and his career and I’ve enjoyed watching it and there was a time I had an opportunity to help him apply himself to that role that he got in Ali’s Wedding. We went through the scripts together and he got ready … helped him get ready for his audition, which he sailed through. So, it’s about working with people with potential. But, it’s not just comedy. You see that in sport. You can just see the talent in people. There’s something wonderfully attractive about effortlessly talented people.
Morry Morgan: On that note, aside from comedy, what about attitudes and other skill sets that are important for a long career in comedy? What do you look for in a Khaled Khalafalla type of comedian? Obviously he’s funny.
Jeff Green: Work ethic.
Morry Morgan: Work ethic, yeah.
Jeff Green: It’s all that. I mean, I’ve questioned my own work ethic. You might think, oh, Jeff, you’ve written three books and you’ve got five DVDs and you write a new show, god, you work hard. I go, I don’t work hard enough. There’s still people working harder than me and it really … work ethic meets talent, equals success and if they haven’t got the work ethic, the talent means nothing. So, that’s really it. Are they prepared to apply themselves? Look, they’ll go off the rails. People, when they become super successful, most people become a wanker for six months and I’ve seen it so many times. I’ve seen hundreds of my friends become tele famous. They become assholes. You just have to wait. Some come back and some don’t, but sadly some don’t. But, most of them come back, oh yeah, I thought I was it, I thought my career trajectory was just going to … we’re just going to keep going at 78 degrees into the [inaudible 00:34:41].
Jeff Green: Careers do that. They sign wave. But, that’s fine. They do come back. so, you accept people’s human weaknesses, like they become a bit of a dick or they might get into partying or they might start to become arrogant and lazy, but most of them come back … get back to knuckling down. So, that’s it. So, there is a longer view, because the thing with comedy is, it’s not like we’re surrounded by pop artists and … they have two or three year careers. Comedians have 40, 50 and 60 year careers. You sort of try and impart that to them, tell the young people pace yourself. You’re going to be in this business a long time. So, it’s not a rush. You can afford to take your time. So, just keep turning your material over, keep finding your voice. I mean, that’s the thing, finding who you are and the only way to find who you are is by trying your material over and turning it over, over and over. You might think, oh, my five minutes, yeah, this is me, this is who I am now. I’ve got my five minutes and then three months later you go, fuck, this material feels old and I’m so much better because that’s what happens when you’re starting out. Your persona gets better, your material has to keep catching up and [inaudible 00:36:12], but you can only do that if you’re throwing new material out.
Morry Morgan: True. I guess with you, you’ve got the extra challenge in that if you’re getting gala gigs on ABC, people everywhere in the world can see your jokes. So, the next year comes around, yeah, you do have to write a new set, don’t you? Whereas, someone who doesn’t have that TV appearance can … well, I’m talking about Chris Franklin in particular, he’s a fantastic comedian, but he’s been … I think he’s got a … well, quite a few jokes that he wrote back in the 80s that he rolls out because his audience changes all the time.
Jeff Green: They were written on [inaudible 00:36:46].
Morry Morgan: They were. I hope he’s not listening to this because-
Jeff Green: I’m doing a gig with him.
Morry Morgan: Are you?
Jeff Green: Yeah, soon. I just put it up on Facebook. I call him evergreen. He is. His jokes are classic and his performances are classic performance and it’ll be tough following him because he … when you’ve been doing a show, when you’ve been a performer for as long as Chris and I have been, you’re usually pretty … you’re nailing it. It’s always good for me to work with headliners, fellow headliners, because it stops me being complacent. That’s what happens in the UK. That’s why comedians in the UK get good, is because you’re on with four headliners and usually, if you’re on at the end, which I always was, and I got fed up with being on the end, because I had young children and I usually had been up since 5:00AM the previous morning and everyone’s just doing the greatest hits and then you’ve got to top it.
Morry Morgan: Yeah, right.
Jeff Green: So, it really leaves you no room to rest on your laurels.
Morry Morgan: Well, that reminded me, the last time I saw you with Chris Franklin, it was actually for the School of Hard Knock Knocks, we actually had you … we had you as the headliner for the end of the night, it would’ve been a 9:45 kick off, which is late these days. Obviously not way back when you were doing 1:00AM shows, and then you did the middle bracket instead and I thought, well, there’s a man who’s very … he’s very logical, because you said you have kids and humility. You weren’t like, oh, I’m going to be the last guy. That’s great.
Jeff Green: No. Chris has got kids. He’s now got grandkids, but they’re not getting him up. He hasn’t got to take them to school anymore and I have, as you have.
Morry Morgan: [crosstalk 00:38:30] or somewhere else.
Jeff Green: Yeah. But, that was good of him, because he’s a trooper and he went, “Yeah, I’ll do it for you.” That was great.
Morry Morgan: Yeah, I’ll take the headline spot with all the glory. I’ll do that for you mate. Well, you’ve got some coming shows-
Jeff Green: It means nothing. That’s the thing. It’s what you realize when you’ve been doing it a while. You know what things matter and what don’t. So, I can be very … I’m just a lot more relaxed. My wife says I’m a completely different person than when she first met me. I get it. I think I was just up my own ass and stressed and unhappy, really. I’m a much happier, more relaxed person now.
Morry Morgan: So, if I ask her, she’ll say, I changed him?
Jeff Green: Yeah. Well, indirectly.
Morry Morgan: Yeah.
Jeff Green: Because I’m here and it’s not quite so cut throat and also the great thing about being here is I don’t have to turn the TV on and see all of my friends on television and getting all that bile in my stomach. [inaudible 00:39:37]. It’s so competitive in the UK, because there’s very little TV opportunities. You might see Dave Hughes, who’s basically on everything and then nobody else gets anything. So, once you make your peace with Dave Hughes receiving all the [crosstalk 00:39:57], then everything else is fine.
Morry Morgan: The king is dead, long live the king. Yeah. Well, hopefully we do see with Channel Ten’s pilot week and Dave O’Neil back on our-
Jeff Green: He was brilliant. I thought Dave O’Neil’s stuff was great. Wonderful supporting cast too. Thought Dave Thornton was a great actor. Really loved it.
Morry Morgan: He was.
Jeff Green: Yeah. Who else was in it? Geraldine?
Morry Morgan: Geraldine-
Jeff Green: Geraldine Hickey was in it?
Morry Morgan: That’s right. She was a chef.
Jeff Green: Yeah. They’re all brilliant. Loved them all. When I first went to live comedy, I could not believe that I hadn’t experienced this before. I’d seen a Richard Pryor DVD on Channel Four at two in the morning and then I went to a live event where I just laughed so much and I went, oh, this is … there’s something beautiful about live comedy.
Morry Morgan: That’s right.
Jeff Green: Something’s still beautiful. I still go. I came from being a comedy fan. I still go and watch Bill Bailey, I still go and watch Khaled Khalafalla and Kieran Lyons and Amos Gill and all of those people. As much as … because I love watching comedians and Tom Gleason. Yeah, once you’ve been to a live comedy event, the internet stuff is just … it’s like full sex and masturbating.
Morry Morgan: Very good. I’ll make sure that’s in the show notes. Well, talking about seeing comedians, where can we go? You mentioned you’re doing a show with Chris Franklin. When’s your next gig? How can people see you live?
Jeff Green: I’m doing a gig in … you’ll have to find out on my Facebook page, because I don’t keep them all in my head. So, go to my Facebook page and you’ll see some live events.
Morry Morgan: Very good. Jeff Green. It’s a page I assume.
Jeff Green: Yeah. Absolutely. Yeah. So, it’s Facebook/comedianjeffgreen. As opposed to the basketballer Jeff Green, who’s a six foot nine black American who people still mistake me for him on Facebook. They say, good luck for the new season. I’m thinking, what is saying that this is an elite black athlete?
Morry Morgan: No. I don’t know where to go with that. Good. If someone wants to book you, so, if someone’s thinking, oh, either for a keynote speech talking about change or for a comedy show or-
Jeff Green: Mushroomcomedy.com. You’ll find my little thumbnail, click on that and then you’ll find a contact there.
Morry Morgan: Good.
Jeff Green: So, yeah. [email protected]
Morry Morgan: Excellent. So, the days are gone that you manage yourself, you’ve now got this huge organization that’s backing you. But, I assume you’re very approachable, you’re not-
Jeff Green: I’m available, if that’s what you’re saying.
Morry Morgan: That’s what I’m saying.
Jeff Green: Yes. Dates still available.
Morry Morgan: Yeah. Don’t be afraid [crosstalk 00:42:50] he won’t be available.
Jeff Green: I will reply to your emails.
Morry Morgan: Excellent.
Jeff Green: Immediately. Desperately immediately.
Morry Morgan: You do all kinds of weird shows. The last time we chose meaning the keynotes, you did a presentation at an artificial intelligence facial recognition conference. That’s the last big one I know of that you did. Yeah.
Jeff Green: Yeah. Look, I’m not proud. I’ve got, have jokes, will travel.
Morry Morgan: Very good. Well, I mean, that’s my other part of my life, but I’ve always said to my son, I said, artificial intelligence is going to take a lot of jobs. The accounting, the law jobs, possibly even doctors, but the one thing it won’t take is it won’t take people’s humor. I think stand up comedy is there forever.
Jeff Green: Good. Thank you. I find that very relieving. But, it might. That might be the benchmark. When you can be fooled by an AI comedian, that’s when they’ve got you.
Morry Morgan: That’s right. That’s where we take the-
Jeff Green: Next are the ray guns and the arms in the air.
Morry Morgan: That’s it. Our life is over. Well, Jeff Green, thank you very much for your time. It’s been wonderful to grab you. You’re a very busy man.
Jeff Green: No worries.
Morry Morgan: I look forward to seeing you as an audience member soon.
Jeff Green: Thanks.
If this interview with British comedian Jeff Green has inspired you be sure to join our School of Hard Knock Knocks Community page of Facebook. We share upcoming gigs, festival information and advice from veteran comedians.