Sydney comedian Marty Bright has taken his unique style of stand-up comedy from remote bush stages to Los Angeles. Youth editor Corin Shearston pried into his mind.
Marty Bright has forged a decade-long career as a successful stand-up comedian, in a niche but vital industry that encourages our love for the natural humour of the world. Strengthened by a passion for “making people feel good”, the 32-year-old comic has already completed four performances at the Sydney Comedy Festival, through which he appeared twice at the The Enmore. He can reminisce on sharing green rooms with comedians such as Arj Barker, known for his role on Flight Of The Conchords, and actor Mike Epps of the Friday film franchise and The Hangover. He’s also performed in every Australian state and territory, apart from the Northern Territory.
Travelling further afield, Marty has also cracked people up at the LA Comedy Store, as well as New York City’s Caroline’s on Broadway and Catch A Rising Star club, where his childhood idol Jerry Seinfeld used to perform. As Marty told me over a Facebook call to my flat in Katoomba, “It’s nice to have those little sentimental moments speckled throughout your career.”
Marty grew up in Sydney, went to high school in the Lower North Shore suburb of Hunters Hill, and currently lives in Ryde. In the vein of a cultural reimagining that Marty gradually applied to his life from around 2016, the bearded and currently-dreadlocked entertainer also became enamoured with the ‘hippy’ scene and has performed at remote bush locations around Australia. In a clip from the Chai Tent Comedy Zone at Dragon Dreaming Festival in the village of Wee Jasper, we can see Marty presiding over a kindred congregation in a pink dress and open purple shirt, showing off his hairy chest with flowers in his hair. A touching moment arises where a little girl cries out “I do gymnastics”, to which Marty replies, That’s the cutest heckle I’ve ever gotten.”
While performing his latest hilarious show Don’t Worry, Be Hippy at The Container – a converted shipping container in Marrickville’s Factory Theatre complex – Marty reveals he’s been described as “a viking gone vegan”, or an “unemployed dream catcher salesman”. However, in our interview, he reveals he believes that his adopted culture hasn’t been too heavily discriminated against.
“Originally when I made that the title of the show it was directed towards the audience, ‘Hey everyone, don’t worry, be hippy, be like me’ but then I realised that it was me telling me, ‘Don’t worry, be yourself’. [The word ‘hippy’] doesn’t have too many negative connotations attached to it that are really venomous or hurtful.”
For one hour in The Container, interspersed with funny flute interludes and finished with a closing ukulele song, Marty offered precise observations that ranged from using bathrooms in Chinese restaurants, “being eye level with baby bok choy”, to reflecting on how “the least important people” get ‘sacrificed’ to take the pictures in social groups: “They’re thinking ‘man, I took a lot of photos in the ’90s’”. He had us in stitches as colourful as the threads on a bush doof poncho.
After driving for three hours from the Central Coast to perform, opening comic KABBA MK was also of good quality.
Marty’s currently in the middle of booking about a month of shows ranging between Brisbane, the Gold Coast and the NSW Northern Rivers.
Speaking about the wide range of locations he performs in, including some reputed to be ‘culturally dead’, Marty says: “Once you put on something that sounds different and fresh, you see how many people there are who are starving for stuff to do.” He especially values the engagement and entertainment of young people but he also wants to offer something for everyone.
According to Marty, Sydney’s current stand-up comedy scene is revitalised and “going off”, and the industry wasn’t overly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and regulations around live performances, as comedy audiences were always going to be seated anyway.
One piece of advice he offers to aspiring comics is to attempt to discover their local scenes and get out and see comedy in clubs. Marty believes that new comedians can have unrealistic live expectations borne from over-exposure to Netflix specials and stand-up content on YouTube. This is because these high profile comedians have already been in the industry for eight years at minimum and have already paid their dues at local levels.
Journey outside to find the real thing.
As well as performing his own comedy shows, Marty Bright offers comedy mentoring for young people, and he’s available to be contacted through his Facebook and Instagram pages. He’s also received a cultural grant through the City of Ryde Council and he plans to offer comedy workshops in the Blue Mountains and Sydney later in the year. Marty Bright will be performing at the Hunters Hill Comedy Fest in mid-June.
Corin Shearston is the youth editor of the Sydney Sentinel.
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