By Luke Voogt
Nuclear fusion and the Cold War might not seem like funny topics to most.
But with his family off-limits, Bubble O’ Bill-obsessed Leopold teen comedian Jhet Anderson has chosen history as a go-to.
“I do have a lot of material when it comes to my family, but it will never see the light of day,” the 17-year-old said.
“I’m too afraid to make fun of my family – I think they’ll yell at me – so I usually go make fun of history instead, because it’s interesting
“History can add meaning to comedy; it teaches us something – without wanting to sound too pretentious.”
Anderson’s Powerpoint slides, memes and loud fashion sense will “add to the punch of it all” when he hits the stage for the Geelong heat of the nationwide Class Clowns competition.
Melbourne International Comedy Festival is searching for Australia’s funniest secondary school stand up comedians in the competition, which comes to the Potato Shed next Wednesday.
Last year Anderson donned a Hawaiian shirt for his debut Class Clowns show, just a week before COVID-19 restrictions came in.
“It’s something for the audience to look at and think, ‘that’s weird,’ while I’m talking,” the Bellarine Secondary College year 11 student said.
“If it’s not the hair that gets ya, it’s the costumes.”
Last year’s heat was limited to family only attending, with COVID-19 on the way.
But Anderson was OK with a smaller crowd for his stand up debut.
“It’s much easier to tell if you’re winning them over or not,” he said.
This year he plans to go in Bubble O’ Bill-themed attire, marking an obsession that began with him buying a face mask paying tribute to the classic ice cream.
“Bubble O’ Bills are tasty and I just went on buying more merch from there,” he said.
“Socks, hats, pants, the shirt. It was boring [during the pandemic]. I had to find something to pass the time.”
Anderson draws inspiration from the tragic but meaningful comedy of New Zealand director Taika Waititi, along with the absurdity of Robin Williams and Eric Andre.
His theme of nuclear fusion last year had a message, he said.
“It’s about not wasting your genius and acting on it now, because you never know when you’re going to go.”
That message was part of why he got on stage in the first place, he said.
“And my drama teacher [Melissa DiNero] sort of forced me into it – but we don’t talk about that.
“I did a presentation in class and apparently that was funny. So she’s making me do it all.
“The message this year is nuclear weapons are bad.”
Anderson’s mum Sarah said she was “so proud of him”.
“I don’t know where he got it from, to be honest.”
Kicking off in late February, with heats running through March nationally, Class Clowns aims to inspire teens aged 14-18 to unleash their comic voice.
The event is free to enter and features a $1500 prize for the best three-to-five minute original stand-up, sketch, physical or musical comedy act.
Previous participants include Joel Creasey, Annie Louey, Rhys Nicholson, Aaron Chen, and William McKenna.
The Geelong heat kicks off at 7pm at the Potato Shed next Wednesday.