Michael Shafar is a rising star in Australian stand-up comedy. He has been a host of Channel 31’s satirical news show The Leak, a finalist at the RAW Comedy National Grand Final, appeared on ABC’s Comedy Bites, Triple J’s Good Az Friday and is a regular writer for the TV show, The Project.
Michael has toured Australia, New Zealand, Asia and the US performing stand up to rave reviews. But prior to hitting the world of stand-up comedy, Michael studied and worked in law. How did a lawyer cross over into the world of comedy?
“I found law very boring. I really liked studying law, but then as soon as I went into a law office I thought, “My lord, it’s very dull here!” I always loved comedy and I decided to start doing some open mics when I finished my law degree. I loved it, so I decided to keep doing it.”
As a regular writer on channel 10’s top current affair show, The Project, it was interesting to hear what Michael prefers writing – stand-up comedy or material for The Project.
“That’s a very good question. The good thing about The Project is you submit your jokes between 4pm and 5pm and you’re then done and move on to the next day. With stand up it’s always changing; every joke is always a work in progress. You never have that end. With stand up, you always feel there’s more to do, whereas with The Project you have that deadline and it’s done.”
Over 2019 and early 2020, Michael’s shows, 50/50 and Getting Better were some of his darkest, yet funniest shows, chronicling his diagnosis and treatment for testicular cancer. I was curious to find out if it was daunting to write material about something so personal, or if he found it a therapeutic way of working through treatment and the emotional roller coaster he would have been on.
“It was a bit of both. At first, I was quite wary of doing cancer material on stage for a couple of reasons. First of all, I had to be comfortable with it and be happy to share it, and then there was that anxiety of how the audience would react to it. Are they going to get really tense? So, I was thinking about myself and when I did start talking about it on stage, I kept thinking about that tension an audience might feel. It took me a bit of time to sum up the courage to deal with all of that, but when I did, I realised that I didn’t have that much to worry about. Audiences were fine to hear about cancer and it’s such a sadly relatable experience for so many. I had built it all up in my head, but it turned out to be totally fine.
“Some audiences have also found it has helped them deal with their personal connections to cancer. I’ve had some cancer survivors who have come to the show and have told me it’s the first time that they were able to laugh about some of the things I talk about in the show and that they enjoyed the experience.”
Michael is based in Melbourne, but is currently spending some time here in Adelaide on his way over to Perth for the Fringe World Festival.
“I’m performing at the Fringe World Festival, but I currently can’t fly from Melbourne to Perth, so I’m spending some time here in Adelaide on my way over. I thought while I’m here I’ll put on a show and do some comedy.”
This coming Saturday, January 30, at 7.30pm, Michael will be performing his new show 110% at Adelaide’s comedy venue, The Rhino Room.
“I’ve been in Melbourne lockdown for months on end so the show has a lot of my thoughts on COVID and how we’ve dealt with that, but I also like to make the contrary views on things. A lot of comedians have the same sort of stance or take on a topic, so I like to take the opposite stance because it’s a bit more fun. So, there’s a little bit of COVID talk, but lots of new original material. I like to be original as much as I can.”
Get your tickets to see Michael Shafar live at the Rhino Room, 1 Pirie St, Adelaide this Saturday, January 30 at 7.30pm. Tickets can be purchased directly from the Rhino Room via https://adcom.sales.ticketsearch.com/sales/salesevent/6429
Interview by Ben Stefanoff