When Jett Bond walked onto the Forum Theatre stage in 2018 for the Class Clowns Grand Finals, most people would have had no idea that it was only his third time doing stand-up. Since then, Jett has discovered that comedy is where he belongs and that the industry isn't defined by stand-up, but by skits, plays, monologues, and more. In the Comedy course at Collarts, Jett is discovering just how many possibilities he can indulge in and set himself up for a lifetime of not just successful, but personally rewarding career opportunities.
Ahead of The Big Ooft, his show that was slated for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival before its cancellation, Jett stopped by on his trek to becoming the self-sufficient comedian he wants to be.
So, how long have you been interested in Comedy? What made you jump into it?
I grew up in the northeastern suburbs, and as a kid, especially during middle school, I was very introverted. I was the shy kid in class and I even hated all the drama kids at school. I thought they were all up themselves, which is definitely the opposite of what is true. I decided to do drama on a whim, then I fell in love with it and the people. And even then, I thought I was just going to be a tree in the background of every play, but they were really supportive at my school and it all spiralled from there.
Now, my drama background really helps with getting into the mind of the character. I can improvise stuff on the spot, and then write down or film the funniest things that come out of this character's mouth without thinking.
What made you move from drama to comedy, then?
My friend did the Class Clowns competition and I decided, “Hey, that seems like fun. I'll give it a crack.” I wasn't a good public speaker at the time. I had to do one speech in front of my school and I was trembling behind the podium, barely being able to speak. But I said, "Why not do comedy?"
I did the first round of the competition, and then I got through to the second round, and then somehow I got through to the third round, the Australian finals at the Forum Theatre. It was the third time I had ever done stand-up, and that was the most amazing experience. It made me consider comedy as a genuine pathway that I can do something with.
Have you always had the comedy chops in that case?
I thought I was pretty funny in my small group of friends growing up; I'll always have some little quip to say to my friends. But drama allowed me to come out of my shell when I was young. I never really thought about making a career out of anything in the arts, and I thought it was all about getting lucky and being in the right place, right time. Don’t get me wrong; I was lucky, but it's also a lot of persistence. I thought I should do it because one of my heroes was actually judging that night.
"If you make people laugh, you make people remember. It's the easiest way to get people to actually get on board with something."
One of them was Broden Kelly from Aunty Donna, and he recognised me after one of their shows, came to me, and was like, "You need to continue doing comedy. You can always do it, follow it." I was so star-struck, but he told me I needed to keep honing my craft and I was like, "Yes. I will."
Your comedy style is silly and reflective; but do you think it's also important to send a message through comedy?
I’m very much inspired by Bo Burnham. As much as he's funny, he also always has a real message in there, and I like that. I think if you have a platform to say something, you should say something, and especially with comedy: if you make people laugh, you make people remember.
It's the easiest way to get people to actually get on board with something. You can have all the Ted Talks in the world, but if they're not really funny, they're not going to go viral or be strongly remembered. I love a good Ted Talk, but the ones you rewatch are the funny ones.
How has the Comedy course helped you hone your craft?
I haven’t found my voice 100% yet, but this course is helping me find a voice because it's giving me freedom and confidence to just say what I want to say, do what I want to do. It's pushing and inspiring me to actually get on a stage because that's something I need to do more.
And that's where devised performance comes in, because we just get in a room, make something, and then do it. I'm getting really excited about working on projects about festival or sketch shows; big-ish scale ideas to be performed on stage. I love exploring an overarching theme or location, or a character that we can delve deep into.
In what ways have you felt more motivated and inspired by this course?
Having Head of Comedy Andrea Powell has helped a lot, because I used to think that stand-up was the only way to be a comedian. She's done a lot stand-up, but has also done a lot of character-based work as well. I've taken that on board and realised I can do what I want to do and let the audience find me, and I'm really excited to explore that.
With this course, I'm able to go down all these rabbit holes of stuff I want to make, and not just be forced into this one box of stand-up, which a lot of people think this comedy course is. These diverse aspects of the course will help me to be self sufficient, to be able to write and then get up and perform, or even write and get someone else to perform it. Often, my brain is too fast for my fingers and this really helps.
Do you think you would have gotten that same support if, say, you were doing a generic dramatic arts degree at a huge uni?
Definitely not. I was actually at another university doing a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in film. We didn't make a single film and I thought it was ridiculous, so I left. At my other uni, I don't know if the teacher even knew my name. This is an arts degree. If you're doing an arts or dramatic arts, the teacher needs to know who you are, and what your voice is, and I feel like Andrea knows my voice physically and metaphorically. Hopefully she can pick out that lisp. [laughs]
"At my other uni, I don't know if the teacher even knew my name. This is an arts degree. If you're doing an arts or dramatic arts, the teacher needs to know who you are and what your voice is."
Do you feel like more people should know about different forms of comedy, and not just stand-up?
110%. I believe that this is probably one of the best dramatic arts courses in Australia because we get to act, write, and perform, and the mixture is really good. More people need to realise that comedy acting is not too different from dramatic acting, and they can crossover so easily, especially because in most scenes and comedies, you need everyone else to be serious for the funny character to work. So it takes a good actor to do good comedies. I think that that's what people need to know — it's not just a wacky guy.
There's a perception that comedy is difficult to break into. How did you find the courage to delve into it and make that choice for yourself?
I didn't think about it too much. One thing happened after another, and I thought, "Oh, let's just do it!" I don't really have a plan B, but I think you should chase your plan A first because there are too many people out there chasing their plan Bs. I'm 19, and right now is the perfect time to chase my goals. I have a very optimistic outlook on a lot of things: if you enjoy it, then you'll make it work.
It's creatively fulfilling, but it also fulfils your soul. [laughs] No, it really does, because it's just such a good feeling. I don't know if it's a selfish feeling or not, but it is nice having a room laugh and knowing that you caused it.
And what does your future look like? Where do you want to be in five years' time?
In five years' time, I would like to be able to produce content to a waiting audience. That's the goal. And I don't necessarily just want one thing, I want to present a podcast, sketch film, a fringe show, and know that there’s a waiting audience that knows who I am and trusts that I'll do well.