People and Places
01/08/2018
No question’s too hard for home-grown comic

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Kate Sears speaks to Daniel Burt about growing up in Frankston, his comedy career and what it’s like writing for television shows such as the ABC’s Hard Quiz and CBS’s Late Show with David Letterman.

 

What’s your education and experience?

I graduated from Frankston High School, thankfully just before the advent of social media. I don’t want to romanticise the past but I long for the days of getting bullied face to face. 

While studying Media and Communications at Melbourne University I performed stand-up and hosted community TV and radio, and quickly got work writing TV comedy and have never looked back, mainly due to chronic neck issues. Early on I was writing for The Glass House and The Einstein Factor on ABC-TV, and lived in New York as intern in the writing department of the Late Show with David Letterman. I was Europe-based entertainment correspondent for The Age, a founding writer of The Project, The Weekly and senior writer for Hard Quiz — among many other gigs the memory of which I’ve deliberately repressed.

Where are you living?

After returning from Paris I now live in Prahran, taking in the sights and sounds and unfortunate smells of Chapel St — although page 102 of the Melway is my spiritual home, and also my real home if for some reason I need to go back to live with my parents in Frankston.

Could you tell us a little about your stand-up comedy show A Trip Down Memory Laneway?

Melbourne is the love of my life. And like any romance I’m obsessed with its history and spend too much time stalking people from its past. It’s easy to overlook that Melbourne is a town full of hidden intrigue with oddballs and crazy incidents around every stencil-graffitied and urine-soaked corner. The show is a unique, comedic and nostalgic celebration of the city we love.

What was it like being a senior writer for Hard Quiz?

It’s deeply rewarding to get a sense of the breadth of intelligence and passion across the country, and it’s an honour to work with Tom Gleeson and such committed and gifted writers. With the variety of special subjects it’s easy to get lost down rabbit holes, investigating the intricacies of Rolex watches or the history of the Freemasons. What other gig allows you to indulge in such disparate curiosities? Unfortunately, I now know more about The Goonies than I ever thought necessary.

What do you love about Frankston?

I like its remoteness from but accessibility to the city, and our proximity to the water — even if the definition of ‘water’ is stretched a bit at Kananook Creek.

How was the Comedy Festival?

I was very lucky to be doing a show about the history of Melbourne inside Tasma Terrace, a hidden room in a pop-up venue with a secret bar inside the National Trust. The only way the show could have been more Melbourne is if Sydney tried to steal it. I do talk a little bit about Frankston in the show, and people enjoy the fact that the station’s three-letter code is FKN. Just say that out loud. Even our abbreviation is trolling us.

 

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