Russell Kane talks skinny jeans, veering off script, and Just For Laughs Sydney

We are just days out from the 2023 edition of Just For Laughs Sydney and there’s a palpable buzz in the air.

For good reason, since the annual comedy festival this year boasts its biggest program and starriest and most gut-punchingly funny lineup to date.

Across seven days beginning on November 12, Just For Laughs will take to stages across the city, hosting stand up sets by the biggest names in comedy from Phil Wang to Catherine Cohen.

Just For Laughs Sydney 2023

One such name is Russell Kane, who is poised to bring his award-winning, pant-wetting quips to the stage at Factory Theatre on November 16.

A hilarious account of the not-so-distant past, Kane’s set has achieved international acclaim for its searing look into the events of 2020. 

Below, we caught up with Russell Kane for a chat on all things joke-writing, improvisation, and Just For Laughs Sydney. Oh, there’s also some mentions of sperm counts and exposed testicles on stage.

Scroll down for our full interview with Russell, and head here to find tickets to his Just For Laughs Sydney show. See all other tour dates and tickets here

HAPPY: Congrats on the awesome “The English Variant” tour! What got you thinking about basing a show on the events of 2020?

RUSSELL: I truly believe that humour can be used to process almost anything. I was lucky to be living in a country whose leader was so shit, it was funny. I set to work.

HAPPY: Your shows are known for their crazy energy and physicality. How do you get in the zone both mentally and physically for those wild performances?

RUSSELL: I smash enough coffee to enema all of Sydney. I run on the spot – and then I throw myself onto the boards. Usually works.

HAPPY: Ever had a mishap on stage?

RUSSELL: My trousers split at the crotch in Lincoln and my man baggage fell out.

HAPPY: “Evil Genius” on BBC Radio 4 is a hit. What’s the story behind its success?

RUSSELL: We live in a time of Cancel or Keep. Any one (including Bunnings #NedKelly lol) can be cancelled at any moment. I wanted tom explore that with historical figures. It transfers to Sky TV on November 20th.

HAPPY: Turning your Radio 4 show into a TV gig is amazing. How’d that whole process go down, and what can we expect on screen?

RUSSELL: It’s great being able to have actual archive footage… even greater watching comedians squirm as they make their vote.

HAPPY: Your documentary on men’s bodies and sperm counts sounds fascinating. Anything mind-blowing you can share from your time on that project?

RUSELL: I also just had my balls examined on live TV last week. Turns out skinny jeans and waxing your balls kills your sperm. As does eating crap. Gen Z with the avocados and shite baggy trousers should be fine.

HAPPY: You’ve accomplished so much in comedy, from top awards to owning major festivals. What do you reckon is the secret sauce to your success in the comedy biz?

RUSSELL: Energy, Most people are knackered. They love to laugh and be energised. Delivery, funniness is AS important as the words.

HAPPY: What’s in store for your November shows in Australia? Any surprises or standout moments we should watch out for?


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RUSSELL: I improvise. I feel sorry for JFL’s cameras trying to follow me; and for the producers when I go off on one. But I will!

HAPPY: So you’re pretty much as intense off stage as on stage. How do you kick back and relax?

RUSSELL: I’m actually ace at doing bugger all. I love books and films. And I love chilling near water. I’m staying on Bondi Beach for that reason.

HAPPY: Comedy often means baring your soul a bit, sharing personal stories and views. How do you find that sweet spot between being real and keeping some stuff private?

RUSSELL: I don’t. I share anything that brings in the dollars. I don’t give a f***.

HAPPY: Apart from comedy, what other art forms or entertainment get your creative juices flowing?

RUSSELL: Novels. Not enough men read fiction. You guys are lucky: you’ve Peter Carey, Tim Winton… Patrick White excellent too. Shirley Hazzard very underrated.

HAPPY: Are there items you want to tick off your bucket list while visiting Sydney for Just For Laughs?

RUSSELL: Stand outside the Opera House with my daughter. That’s gonna slay the family WhatsApp group.