Stand-up raver who really grapples with his lines

Stand-up raver who really grapples with his lines, by Alexa Moses -
18th July 2002
Credit: The Sydney Morning Herald

Hollywood Brett Sheargold is the comedian that other Sydney comics rave about. They talk of his tendency to do the unexpected. One comedian called Sheargold "anarchic, brilliant but dysfunctional", another said the comedian had a homicidal girlfriend, yet another that Sheargold was obsessed with wrestling.

How did the tall, thin, nervy 38-year-old comedian become so legendary amongst his peers?

Sheargold fidgets with his hair, and counters the question with - what else? - a joke.

"OK, I'm the 'loose cannon'. All of those gigs where you heard those things happen, they did," he says.

Then he demurs.

"Really, I don't know what I've done. My material is clean. It's average material. It has a lot to do with the legend being beyond the fact.

"I've heard stories of things that I've done and it's not true: it's ended up being Austen Tayshus or someone else who did it," he says.

Perhaps his childhood among showbusiness types is part of the myth. Sheargold's not sure if that's true, but he does confirm that his background and contacts are how he got the Hollywood in front of his name.

Sheargold's mother was the assistant for a magician and he remembers growing up around people like actor Slim De Grey and entertainer Jan Adele.

After a stint as a child reporter for Channel 9's The Mike Walsh Show, he left school at age 15 and worked as a DJ at a roller disco on George St.

"It's where Planet Hollywood is now," Sheargold says.

" I said 'I'm Captain Fantastic and I'm spinning the plastic.' Time for Funkytown."

He did his first comedy gig at age 18, at the Penshurst Hotel and honed his routine at the original Sydney Comedy Store. He credits comedian Rodney Rude for helping him stick with it.

"When I was starting out and dying in the arse, [Rude] was the one who said get up there and keep doing it. People that ran the venue were saying 'go home, give it a miss'. I'm grateful to him, very much so," Sheargold says.

As well as limited stand-up, Sheargold has been involved in a television pilot and writes the choreography and characters for wrestling matches, which play around the RSL circuit. He admits to a passion for wrestling which started when he was a child.

"My mum took me to the Hordern Pavilion when I was seven or eight years old and she must have known someone, as it ended up that Andre the Giant was standing in front of me," he says.

"I was out the back, near the dressing rooms when he came out. He was 7'5" or something and he weighs like 40 stone. To a small kid these were like real-life monsters. So I used to watch it knowing that it was rehearsed, knowing that the endings were always pre-determined - I knew that before I knew that Santa Claus didn't come and visit my house."

Years later, Sheargold started to incorporate wrestling props and moves into his stand up routing, using dolls like Mr Potato Head and Barbie as wrestlers. One evening, a man who organised the local wrestling bouts saw his act and asked him if he wanted some work.

Now Sheargold creates characters and catch-phrases for wrestlers, as well as choreographing the moves.

"I made one of the wrestlers at Oxford St, the gay one, his name's Andrew Bumthorne and his catchphrase is 'Everyone's horny for the Bumthorney'. He goes out there and talks about grappling with men," he says.

"Wrestling is now a kid's matinee thing. The adults aren't getting into it nearly as much as they used to. It's really quite funny going up to the seven foot guy and saying, 'now, the gay guy's going to root your leg,', and then the Bad Man from Iran's going to come out and call people camel droppings. The kids all go, 'Ew!'," he says.

And the rumour about the homicidal girfriend?

Sheargold says that the girlfriend is definitely an ex, and it hasn't gone to court yet. He lifts his hair to show me the coin-sized scar on his neck. The woman was a heroin addict, he says, and went a little crazy one morning.

"I woke up and there was this weird girl - and she was now nothing like the girl who had moved in - and she was freaking out about drugs and I told her to get out of the house. She picked up a bottle and stabbed me in the neck and started punching me," he says.

"Fortunately she called the police and then said 'my boyfriend's trying to kill me'. So the police arrived and saw me lying on the floor splattered in blood with her standing there saying, "that's the killer, that's the killer there." The police were unsure about that and so they dragged her off.

Is he using the incident as material?

"No," he says, "I'm definitely not using it in my comedy.


The Sydney Morning Herald

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