Harley Breen may have once been the kid at the back of the classroom trying to get a laugh, but it’s his foray into fatherhood that has given him the richest material as a comedian.
He’s headlining the free Open Air Comedy Night on Saturday, June 25 as part of the Caboolture Festival at Caboolture Town Square. Joining him will be host Stav Davidson and comedians Dave Eastgate, Ting Lim, Bron Lewis, Emma Zammit and Sandeep Totlani.
Breen says he was given the honour of “class clown” in the school yearbook when he was in Year 9.
“It’s not the kind of award you take home and celebrate with your mother … I did, and she cried,” he recalls.
He was also the recipient of a special award created by his teacher called the “Ability to Speak Under Water with Cement and an Apple in Your Mouth Award”.
His first paid gig wasn’t until 2000 or 2001 at Dockside Comedy Bar in Brisbane, but his first attempt at comedy was earlier than that at the Queens Arms Hotel in New Farm.
“It was a dive bar. There were 17 comedians who were the audience. It was an open mic night and I had no idea what I was doing,” he recalls.
Despite this, he was in his element and performing came easily.
|“Dad was a Methodist reverend and I watched him every Sunday, so for me it was second nature … but I preached a very different word,” he says laughing.|
“I was sh*t at everything else so focused on what I was good at which was talking sh*t and the rest as they say is history.”
He’s been at it for 20 years now.
The country Queensland boy, now 42, was born in Kingaroy and raised in Bundaberg. His wife is from the Sunshine Coast, so he knows the Moreton Bay Region and Caboolture well and is looking forward to visiting again. These days, he calls Melbourne home.
His children aged 12, 5 and 2 years, and the trials and tribulations of parenthood have been a treasure trove of comedic material.
“Anyone who has a kid, thinks they’re an expert,” he says.
So, he teamed up with Claire Hooper’s husband Wade Duffin to create the postcast, Sh*tting With the Door Open.
“It’s less (parental) advice and more an open, honest purging of my own experience in the hope that it helps someone else get through their own nightmare,” Breen explains.
It’s also an opportunity to roll out an array of dad jokes.
He says it’s had a huge impact, particularly because he’s an autobiographic and introspective comedian. Oh, and he now has longer hair.
“I live life, things happen and I write stuff about it. I wrote my current show during endless lockdowns with my children,” he says.
Breen says people relate to his humour because “everyone’s been a kid or had a kid”.
“I try to make stuff accessible to as many people as I can,” he explains saying it’s about constructing a good story and funny narrative.
“I’ve done it all over the world and never felt that people haven’t got the context, no matter where you are in the world. It’s about telling the story,” he says.
His aim is to entertain as many people as possible but concedes some wowsers might not appreciate his material.
Breen says the show is “pretty PG” and his 12-year-old had seen it twice. He’ll tone down the language and says there’s enough stories to entertain everyone.
“It will be a rollicking good time with stories around the chaos that was 2020,” he says.
And he wants audiences to go out and support the arts at every opportunity as the industry struggles to get on its feet post-COVID-19 lockdowns.
He’s been using #nothingbeatslive hashtag, saying you can’t replace live performances with material on streaming services.
“Sitting in an audience with people that combust into laughter at the same time … nothing compares with that,” he says.
“Live arts don’t exist without an audience.”
It is free to attend the Open Air Comedy Night at Caboolture Town Square on Saturday, June 25 from 4-8pm.
The evening features a line-up of comedians and live music, with a pop-up bar serving locally brewed craft beers and a range of food trucks.
The content will be classified as PG. PG-rated content is not recommended for people under the age of 15, however this is ultimately up to parents or guardians. Though not recommended, children under the age of 15 years are still able to attend with a parent or guardian.
Parking will be available in the multi-storey carpark adjacent to the Caboolture Hub Library, accessible from Hasking St.
This event is proudly delivered by Moreton Bay Region Industry & Tourism (MBRIT) and supported by Sit Down Comedy Club and strategic partner, Moreton Bay Regional Council.
For more information, visit the website