The Listies in 6D

The Listies in 6D

The Listies in 6D

With the Easter holidays happening at the end of the week (uh-oh, you’d forgotten, hadn’t you?), we thought it was a good time to chat with children’s entertainers, The Listies, Richard Higgins and Matt Kelly. Don’t miss their show at Brisbane Powerhouse from next Wednesday April 3rd – Saturday April 6th!


The Herald Sun critic ‘reckons you guys are “The Lano and Woodley of the under 12 set”; high praise indeed! How did you get to this cool, fun place making award-winning theatre for children?


The short answer:

Whenever someone told us to stop being silly, we didn’t listen.

And the longer one:

….A brief history:

We met about ten years ago doing shows with a fantastic director called Lynne Ellis, who has been running annual children’s shows in Melbourne for 20 years, adapting Andy Griffiths and Roald Dahl books for stage. And she taught us our craft, how to keep an audience involved, how to keep changing the game, how to love it. We owe her a lot. For example we borrowed a pair of poo stained undies from her props department and we still haven’t given them back.

And Matt and I love performing and making people laugh and we’ve just kept making shows that we thought were funny and were the opposite of boring. We were also lucky to meet our amazing manager Vanessa Rouse very early on; it is great when you have someone who completely believes in what you do. She knows more about kids theatre in Australia than anyone. Also she often tells us to put more farts in. Also she came up with our recipe for fake vomit.

You guys specialise in “Kidult” (for kids and adults) entertainment? How is that even possible? What’s your strike rate at each show? Are the laughs usually well balanced between kids and adults?


We think of our shows a bit like a vaudeville variety show (for any kids reading this, they were live shows in the dinosaur times that ran a bit like a YouTube hole on stage) so every ‘bit’ is aimed in a different way. A silent bit, a story, straight gags, audience interaction, props bits, a musical bit…. And I think that allows you to cover a lot of bases. Also don’t forget Kidult stuff is not new! It has always been everywhere – Pixar, Star Wars, Woodley, Mr Bean, Charlie Chaplin, British pantos, wrestling, farts.


And on that, why are fart jokes so popular with kids and adults? What’s your best fart joke?


I think the masterful US stand up comedian Louis CK nailed this one: “Let’s break down farts for a second. It comes out of your butt, it smells like poop, (because it’s air that’s been hanging out with poop for a while)… And when it comes out it makes a trumpet noise. What’s not funny about that?”


I like to think that fart jokes are older than humanity itself, like deep in the midst of time two dinosaurs were sitting around a carcass one day, gnawing on some poor unfortunate’s cartilage, when one leaned over and invented the oldest and best fart joke, ‘Pull my claw’. And they were on a high protein diet. That would’ve been stinky.


Does your producer, Vanessa Rouse, have a favourite fart joke that you have to throw into each show (or anything that she would prefer you exclude?). 

As we said earlier, Vanessa is the best! And she has never said don’t put that in. She trusts us. And our expertise about farts. And fart archeology (in evidence above).


You’ve travelled a bit; you’ve had successful runs at major Australian and international festivals. Do fart jokes work in other countries and cultures?


YES! Of course they do. Everyone does them – though the farts themselves have different accents eg. French – la poot Spanish – el pooto German – Das poot  New Zealand poot aye bro.


What are among the most embarrassing moments you’ve experienced in another country?


In the UK pants means undies. Do not forget this.


How do you come up with the content and structure for your shows? Is there a tried and true method?


It’s a trade secret, but there is a dartboard and a blindfold involved.


Where do you find inspiration?

We watch the cats on YouTube. Those little critters are FUN-KNEE.


Can you talk about the influence upon your developing style and eventual shows of Monty Python, The Two Ronnies, Samurai Pizza Cats and The Young Ones?


Although TV was big in our comedy young lives, and we continue to consume huge chunks of TV and internet comedy, most important to us is seeing live comedy/clowning/puppetry/circus/ theatre/dance…The lucky thing about our job is that we get to be at festivals where people from all over the country (and the world) are performing live in front of audiences. I would say that this, the live realm, is actually the most influential to what we do… because although we’d love to do more TV/YouTube stuff and we have great fun making our audio albums (thelisties.bandcamp.com) it is the experience of sitting in the dark with a group of open-mouthed strangers watching someone make magic infront us that remains the most influential to us.


What can aspiring comedians learn from your shows? What can they learn from your creative process?


I would say that seeing as much live stuff of as much variety as possible is one tip. And the other one is that your live stuff is never really finished. Keep working on it. It’s like a garden that always need tending…possibly with manure.


Also our shows are really messy… By the end of the show the stage is covered with vomit, dirty undies, deflated inflatable unicorns and aliens. It’s a real disaster zone. So also I guess young aspiring comedians could learn some of our best cleaning up techniques.


What are your fave 3D movies?


We make our own 6D movies, it’s twice as good as 3D. Come and join us at the show!


What was your fave childhood/teen read?


Matt: Harry Potter and Neil Gaiman. We are also big fans of Andy Griffiths and Roald Dahl.

Richard: I grew up in England, so started with The Just Williams Books, and yes, a bit of Enid Blyton. I loved comics like The Beano and the Dandy, Tintin and Asterix and also Judge Dredd. Then I got into Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams, Sue Townsend (a bit later)…. I also used to transcribe Fawlty Towers episodes in my spare time…


What did you want to be when you grew up? Are you doing it? What did your parents want you to be?


Richard: Taller!


Matt: Until the age of five I wanted to be a giraffe – so I guess the same as Rich.


Who do you think could do with seeing your show in Brisbane this time?


Our show is Rated S for Stupid. so it’s for stupid people, who like watching stupid people do stupid things. We can promise them that our show is 100% education free. It’s like the opposite of learning. You come out of the show knowing less that you did when you came in. Stupider. If that’s a word.


What do you love about Brisbane Powerhouse and the Brisbane live theatre scene?


Brisbane’s arts scene is brill. You have GOMA, QPAC, QTC and the Powerhouse…and the Powerhouse does some of the most amazing programming in Australia and every time we’ve performed there the audiences have been full and ready to have a great time. The Visy Theatre is a fantastic room in a fantastic venue in a fantastic spot in the city.



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