Stand-up comedy is a bit like a high-flying circus act without a net – and that’s exactly how Dilruk Jayasinha likes it
Dilruk Jayasinha’s new Melbourne International Comedy Festival show, Bundle of Joy, is almost ready – but that doesn’t mean it’s finished. “I’m someone who works better from the stage itself rather than sitting down and writing it all down,” he says. “The more I perform the more jokes or little tags to jokes I find along the way. The pressure of having to be funny in front of people’s faces staring back at you is a much stronger motivator than staring at the wall at your desk.”
Jayasinha comes up with a handful of key stories he’ll tell during a show, but he likes to interact with the audience and changes tack based on how things are going. “The more you try to control it and keep the six things that don’t change, the more it changes.”
That change can be scary, but also exhilarating. “If people go to the circus to see amazing acts of courage, they know deep down that everything is going to be fine – but in that moment you feel that danger,” Jayasinha says. He says live comedy has a similar feel. “It’s a death-defying stunt. Part of the excitement of watching a stand-up on stage is that danger.”
But even though he loves the high-wire uncertainty of live performance, the former accountant retains a sense of caution. “I didn’t go full time in comedy until long after I knew I could go full time,” he says. “Maybe it is that accounting training, that it was ‘don’t get too carried away.’” He still remembers the day he became a full-time stand-up comedian: July 1, 2016. Naturally, he had to see out the end of the financial year.
Although he’s been active in Australia’s comedy scene for years, he still gets a kick out of meeting his comedy heroes. “I remember when I was working as an accountant and I was really not loving it, I used to listen to Hamish and Handy every day, and there was a time when I called them up. Fast forward six or seven years later, they had Rob Sitch on to promote Utopia [which Jayasinha stars in], Hamish and Andy played the audio of me calling them up.” He’s now friends with the pair, and Hamish asked Jayasinha if he remembered the promo of himself on Utopia. “I told him I know the exact date.” Befriending those he used to idolise has been one of the best things about making the switch from accounting to comedy. “It breaks my brain sometimes.”