Rod Quantock, the Melbourne comedian famous for playing Captain Snooze, is returning to the stage to take on the Abbott Government.
It is the first time Quantock has performed at the Melbourne Fringe Festival in over two decades, and he thanks Abbott for the inspiration.
“Truth be known, he was reason enough for me to get off my arse,” he says. “It’s been a bit of a blessing.”
“I can’t think of anything more radical we’ve had from a conservative government.”
Quantock has been doing stand-up since 1968, and jokes that the Government is returning that bygone era.
“Probably a little bit before that actually. Maybe the ’50s, or the ’40s. It’s actually medieval now that we’ve got knights and dames back.” he says.
But, much like George Bush before him, Abbott and his “carnival of fools” have provided plenty of fodder for comedians.
Bush, one of the most unpopular conservative presidents the United States ever had, was mocked endlessly, so much so that David Lettermen dedicated a segment to him.
So Quantock says the pain of a conservative government is somewhat offset through laughter.
“Comedians absolutely revel in suffering,” he says. “If we lived in a perfect world one of the first groups of people to go would be comedians.”
Quantock is well known for his sharp political satire, which he has been performing in front of crowds for decades.
He says he was “radicalised” in the 1970s, and has been challenging audiences ever since.
“I do it because I see it as a tool,” he says. “It’s another way of communicating these ideas, away from Q&A and the opinion makers.
“It’s a big issue, it’s what most of my shows are about now.
“They’ve set us back 25-30 years, and they’ve done it in less than a year.
“It pisses me off.”
He will bear that anger out on stage over nine nights at the Melbourne Fringe Festival in September and early October, less than five months after a successful stint at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival with his show Peak-A-Boo.
The appeal of the Fringe, he says, is that it is a “festival of ideas”.
“It’s not just about comedy, it’s about furniture, culture, architecture,” he says.
“It’s a much younger and more curious audience as well.
“I’m hoping it will get me in front of a new audience. There are people who have been coming to see me for a very long time and then there are younger people who say ‘oh god, he’s not dead, we better go see him before he is dead’.”
Quantock’s show Invitation to a Revolution is playing at the Lithuanian Club. Purchase tickets here.
Timeline of a rebel
Born: Coburg, Melbourne, 1949
University: Studied Architecture at University of Melbourne
Activism: “Radicalised” in the 1970s, amid Whitlam’s sacking and the Vietnam War, Quantock has been a passionate political campaigner ever since. Most of his shows revolve around climate change, and he frequently performs at events for the Greens party. Has also hosted several SKA TV Activist Awards.
Capt’n Snooze: Played Capt’n Snooze in a series of TV ads for the bed retailer for 18 years, though he has since come to regret it, believing it hindered his comedy career.
Comedy: His first gig was in 1968 at the Melbourne Uni Architects’ Revue. Helped build Melbourne’s comedy scene, putting on shows at iconic comedy venues such as the Flying Trapeze and Trades Hall. A regular on TV shows such as Australia, You’re Standing In It, Denton and Fast Forward. Founding member of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival board in 1987. Also known for ‘Bus, Son of Tram’ – bus tours of Melbourne where he took a group of people to a surprise location to meet another group of people who did not know they were coming. Quantock held a rubber chicken named Trevor and gave Groucho Marx masks to participants.