By Luke Voogt
The man known as ‘Pauly Falzoni’ in cult comedy Fat Pizza will give fans a solid “thonging” when he returns to Geelong this month.
“There’s not really another show where the audience allows themselves to be thonged in the bum or the face,” Logie-winning comedian Paul Fenech said.
“It’s all consensual of course.”
The odd tradition grew from audience requests, after Fenech used his footwear as weapons on TV as Pauly or Franky Flazoni in Housos.
“They would say, ‘come on Frankie thong me!’” Fenech explained.
“So I would give them a little tap and they would say, ‘is that all you’ve got? Come on, give me a good one!’
“If people want to be thonged let’s make it part of the show and all have some fun.”
Fenech was keen to get among his audience when he comes to Sphinx Hotel on 25 May.
“Why go all the way to Egypt when I can just go Geelong?” he said.
“You’ve got a beautiful waterfront (and) an oversupply of bogans in Geelong, which makes me feel welcome. I’ll do a burnout with them any day.
“We matchmake bogans during the show; ‘Defacto at first sight’ we call it.”
Fenech will bring both alter egos with him when he shares exploits from his latest TV series Deadly Down Under.
“I don’t want to ruin the show… there could be a crocodile or a snake,” he said.
He spent much of last year riding across Australia with “specially-trained tracking animal Fonz the sausage dog” to seek out the continent’s deadliest creatures.
“Mate I had a brown snake between my legs! I got bitten by a funnel web spider!” he said.
“I feel I’ve sort of got some man-cred after that. I don’t have a lot of fear anymore – stupidly.”
Fenech tracked reports of ghosts and aliens and met with people “bitten by all kinds of crazy things”.
“We had a guy that was mauled by a lion and a navy diver who lost his foot and arm to a shark,” he said.
“They deserve a degree of sensitivity and respect.”
While “respectful” in real-life, in comedy Fenech will “have a go at just about anything”.
He rose to fame as writer, director and main character of Fat Pizza, infamous for gratuitous physical comedy, ethnic stereotypes and political incorrectness.
“It’s like being a kindergarten teacher, being a director,” he said.
Many of the show’s characters were “slight exaggerations” on people Fenech knew.
“I won’t be too specific because it could end up in court,” he laughed.
Pizza Shop owner ‘Bobo’, for example, was “a compendium of ethnics I know who love their mum so much they don’t want to leave home”, he said.
“And there’s nothing wrong with that!”
Fenech recently worked on a reboot of the series, he said.
“I’m actually auditioning a whole bunch of randoms on the internet to see if they’re any good.”
His comedy continued to push boundaries, especially with a growing number of people “offended by anything”, he said.
“I like the fact that I can still shock people.