This week the AU had a chat with household name, Carl Barron. The Aussie king of comedy came to us with some different news this time. He’s promoting his first feature film, co-written and directed by Anthony Mir. Released this year, Manny Lewis is a film about an Aussie comic (sound familiar?) who struggles with life on the road and finding love, until he meets an unusual woman played by Leeanna Walsman. Carl told us a little more about who Manny is, what we can expect in the film and how no one really knows what normal is these days.
So is this the first romantic comedy you’ve written?
It’s the only film I’ve ever written (laughs).
What’s the experience like writing a script for a film instead of a stand-up routine?
It’s long, tedious, and you just have to go over everything a lot more than stand-up. I find with stand-up I just go out there and start talking whereas with a script there’s a lot of work in it. I wrote it with my friend Anthony who directed it. I learnt a bit off him, you’ve got to make it match up, flow and all that stuff. Whereas in stand-up you can jump from one thing to another but you can’t do that in a film unless it’s you know one of those..
Like an art house film?
Yeah, that no one wants to watch! (laughs)
Or people pretend they’ve watched it.
Yeah, and they find something amazing in it.
So were you always intending to get involved with script writing and film then?
No, not at all. It was just something I wanted to do to take a break from stand-up. I’ve always had a little idea for a film and I suppose it’s not exactly something I want to pursue. It’s like a hobby.
Well it’s nice to get your hobby out on the big screen.
Yeah, well I’m used to just putting my stuff out there and seeing how it goes, so I guess in some ways it’s not radically different. Putting your stuff out there and people look and listen, for me it’s just stuff really.
Where did the concept of Manny Lewis and creating his struggles for the story come from?
It was a kernel of an idea I had. A concept of a comic who falls for this girl who works on the phone. I was talking about it to my friend Anthony in a café one day and he said we should turn it into a movie. Manny is a nickname that he always had for me.
Oh really? Is Manny a reimagining of yourself?
Not really, we just wrote it. Anyone who writes knows the best way to write if you want to have an effect is to write about stuff you’re familiar with. And one thing I’m familiar with is stand-up and life on the road so I wasn’t going to write about being a journalist, I’d barely fill one page. It’s hard not to write anything or say anything no matter what you’re doing without putting a bit of yourself in it.
It sounds like a really interesting romance. So tell us about Manny’s love life and love interests?
Well, he doesn’t have a love life. He’s on the road all the time, and it’s a rocky road. It can be sometimes, you have to overcome some hurtles you’ve kept locked inside for years and you don’t have to deal with them until you meet somebody. It’s no different in anyone’s life, he just happens to be a comedian. She happens to be who she is in her life. It’s getting to the point where you want to move into something new or go back to who you were, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Its just like anyone’s life really, but a particularly isolated way of living is on the road. When you live in hotels and perform, and try to have a normal life you can’t.
Do you struggle to have a normal life always moving with stand up?
The only struggle I have is trying to figure out what a normal life is. There are certain things I can and can’t do anymore, I know that. But some days it’s a struggle just walking out onto the street, it’s a struggle for everyone sometimes. You learn to live with it, that’s the way it is. People know me.
Do you still enjoy being recognized or sometimes do you just want to have a coffee?
Of course, definitely sometimes I just want to have a coffee. But as long as people are polite and nice. If someone wants to get in my face and get rude well that’s a problem.
Have you ever had a heckler come up to you and say something?
You mean hanging shit on me?
I guess if you go somewhere there’s a bit of drinking, which is a bit of problem when you don’t give people what they want. You’re busy, you’re doing something, you’re having dinner with your friend, whatever. Sometimes they give you a bit of serve but its all meaningless stuff really. They’re just drunk, it’s the Australian way. I’ve done it. I’ve acted like a dickhead in public. It’s part of life.
Your stand-up can be quite energetic on stage, do you bring any of that to the character?
I don’t want to give it all away. But I never really thought about it. I don’t really think about myself on stage. I don’t see myself. It’s hard for you to see yourself. You can tell your friends what you think you’re like, but you’re probably not like that at all. They see you a different way. So how I am on stage I don’t know, and how Manny is that’s for me to say because I wrote it, and it’s me. There’s a million different ways you could look at it.
Do you ever watch your own stuff or do you prefer to do it and be done with it?
Only when you need to edit the DVD do I really watch it. I don’t sit at home by myself watching myself. I know all the punch lines so there’s no point.
(Laughs) And what is it like working with Roy Billing and the rest of a great cast?
Easy! I learnt stuff off them. They’re all very cruisey. They’d hold their gait in the scenes. I enjoyed working with all of them. Sometimes its taxing working until three or four in the morning but nothing drastic happened.
Some of your comedy in the past has been very Australian or the kind of rhetoric only an Aussie would understand. Will the film be a very Australian film as well, or will it be entertaining for audiences in America and elsewhere as well?
Who knows (laughs). It is the way I talk. I’m big on that, the character I’m doing on stage I’m into really emphasizing how they sound. I sound like someone who comes from rural Queensland so I wasn’t going to compromise on how I sound.
From here do you want to do more in feature films?
Nah. This was a good project to try something new. But I like doing my stand-up. I’m good at that, just getting up and being me. This has been fun, and we’ll see how it goes but I’m happy.
Manny Lewis is out on DVD and Blu-Ray now. Click here for more details: http://www.mannylewisthemovie.com/.
We’re giving away a copy of the DVD HERE!
You can also follow Carl Barron on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/CarlBarronOfficial