“GOOGLE BEES!” bellows Scott, ducking under a nearby table. I’m sitting down to lunch with stand-up comedian, radio host, and controller of the Internet, Scott Dooley. We’ve just been assaulted by a gang of drones.
When we meet up, Scott is in the final weekend of his Melbourne International Comedy Festival show, Eva.
“I’m getting sick,” he says “I think it’s because I’m not complaining enough.”
Maybe it’s the lack of complaints, or maybe it’s a return to Australian air. Born and bred Down Under, Dooley – not unlike a real-life Crocodile Dundee – moved to New York a few years ago to kneel at the altar of stand-up. The world’s hub of comedy, it’s the place to be for those dedicated to craft.
“You do notice the difference; it’s the convenience stuff. Not the size of the city, or more people – if you want to get anything you can get it.”
“Where I live there’s this park and there’s all these transient kind of people, but they’ve all got dogs and girlfriends. Those are two things I didn’t have. That was a wake up call for me.”
“I just like the idea of stability” he says. It’s a statement that seems in stark contrast to his restless energy – since returning to Australia in November 2014, Dooley has produced a variety show, released a DVD, co-hosted a radio show, and even briefly returned to America to perform. “Unless I’m producing something I feel like I’m lazy,” he says, “unless I’ve got something to show for it at the end of the day.”
“I’m kind of everywhere at once” he explains, and he’s not lying. Each new topic broached seems to produce mention of another project Dooley is involved with. At one moment he becomes distracted, breaking off a sentence to point outside to a man with a ponytail.
“You don’t understand,” Dooley continues, “we control the Internet.”
That’s not a lie either. On top of the various social media, he’s performed shows with Brown Cardigan, and with his voice familiar to anyone that listened to Triple J in the 2000s, Dooley’s twin aptitudes for radio and the web have inevitably led to podcasting.
He has his own, called Green Light Boys, in which he and co-host Angus Truskett pitch movies for an hour or so, but it’s also not unlikely to find Dooley popping up in other people’s podcasts.
“It reminds me of – years and years ago, I used to like punk-rock music, and [podcasts] seem the same kind of way, it’s all word of mouth. I used to read who the bands would thank – I’m talking about going through the liner notes of records and seeing who the bands thank. I remember seeing Mobb Deep thanking people and thinking ‘Oh wow, I’ve gotta cop that record’.”
There’s no way Eva is child friendly. There are a lot of non-PC buzzwords that would catch the ear of fervent social-justice warriors or reader-hungry journalists; Dooley makes light of subjects from drug use to misogyny to child beating. But that’s just the point – he endorses nothing (besides minor drug use), rather he finds the funny in otherwise detestable topics.
“I don’t think talking about those things is bad,” he says, “if you hear the word rape, people are naturally going to bristle. I completely understand that because it’s a terrible subject – so is homophobia and racism, but because you hear it, it doesn’t mean that it’s happening.”
“I have a bit where I use the term ‘prostitute’ and a sex worker came into the show and she tweeted and said she’d enjoyed it, but I was always in two minds about that word, because I know people in that industry don’t like it for a number of reasons. So I tweeted her and said “Was that a bit much?” because I’d be mortified if I was doing something that was offending people out my ignorance.”
“If someone said ‘Hey, that thing you’re saying offends me for this reason’, they’re not doing it to stick it to you, they’re doing it because you didn’t realise. That happens a lot when people are like ‘Hey, you know when you dress up in blackface at the football? You can’t do that.’ They’re not saying ‘We want you to stop going to the football and enjoying this thing’, we’re just saying it’s offensive. And then they go ‘It’s not meant to be racist!’ You may not mean it, but it is.”
Dooley comes across as endearingly humble when discussing his achievements, having recently released his first DVD, Debut. An outside-the-mold special that combines documentary with live performance, Scott attributes the noteworthy structure to “a lack of confidence on my part. I didn’t feel like I could be in that space, for some reason, that thing of ‘Well if you do a special, it’s going to be compared to Aziz Ansari, Bill Burr, Louis CK, and stuff’”
“It was never going to be ‘this is Fast 7 and we’re all going to get rich!’ I think mostly it was I wanted to make a film, and be a part of that process and see how that went.”
That mode of thinking doesn’t seem to be petering out any time soon, with Dooley currently in the process of deciding whether to commit Eva to film.
“I did a movie with the Hilltop Hoods called Parade of the Dead (2010), which was their live performance, and then through it there was narrative, it was a zombie film. I was thinking something along those lines – obviously not a zombie film – but a narrative weaving in and out.”
Regardless of how it turns out, Scott is not content to settle on the tried-and-true formula of an hour of stage-time.
“Maybe it’s me, because I’ve got a shit attention span and grew up with music festivals and Twitter, anything more than 20 minutes…ugh, yuck. The idea of sitting down and watching me for an hour is just…shit, man. That’s a lot of me.”
By now, we’ve been talking for at least an hour. It has been a lot of him, but it’s been largely fascinating. He has to go soon, the footy’s on. Then another two shows to close out the festival, and then it’s back to New York. He’s got “life stuff” to do – no travelling for a while, just “gig-gig-gig-gig-gig”.
Almost as a cue to leave, two bees arrive at our table.
“I don’t know what to do in this situation. Do we play dead?” Scott asks. The bees aren’t going anywhere. “I’m genuinely concerned about this.” The bees begin encroaching on our personal space. Not cool, bees.
“GOOGLE BEES!” bellows Scott, ducking under a nearby table. No doubt by the time he’s back in the country, he’ll have bee-mastery down pat too.