Twenty-three-year old Ethan Andrews is not your stereotypical comedian.
"I've been trying to get better with budgeting. I am $30,000 in debt from studying finance so it's not off to a great start," he says.
The recent University of Newcastle graduate grew up in Singleton and just completed his degree in Business and Commerce. Despite his debt concerns, he recently received The NSW Young Regional Artist Scholarship, a grant for $10,000. The NSW Government offers 25 yearly scholarships for young regional artists for professional development.
Andrews stays busy hosting events and freelancing, but, like many aspiring comedians in the region, he is underemployed. He said the scholarship will allow him to develop his audience and reputation, including allowing him to perform at the Melbourne Comedy Festival.
“This scholarship pays for my venue hire, my accommodation, promotion and registration fees to be a part of the festival which is huge," Andrews says. "I would probably still go (if I hadn’t received it), but now I can justify going and performing."
But Andrews doesn't just perform. He's organised and hosted heaps of events in the Newcastle scene, many of which are not limited to comedy. He started running comedy shows in late 2015 – it was a good opportunity for him to practise hosting and learn about running shows. And the shows also gave locals new opportunities to perform.
He currently organises and hosts a Five Dollar Comedy Night at the Croatian Wickham Sports Club and produces Carrington Comedy at the Carrington Bowling Club. He also hosted and organised Tonight’s The Night at The Press Book House.
Lately, he's been running comedy writing sessions and workshops.
"Basically I got sick of hearing other comedians that I like performing the same jokes. I was like ‘well people will perform at a gig, what if they come out to write,’" Andrews says.
He plans on keeping his comedy writing sessions pretty serious, which is no easy feat.
"I was talking to (local comedian) David Gairdner about it. He was really struggling to withhold schoolgirl squeals at our recent writers’ workshop, but I want it to be like a library; I want silence," Andrews says. "American improv teacher Del Close used to tell his students on the first day of their classes that there’s nothing f – – – ing funny about comedy, and I agree. A group of eight comedians can go off the rails, and that’s why I’m trying to reign everyone in."
He likes the evolution of the comedy scene in Newcastle. He thinks the comedy is different in less urbanised areas, particularly the topics that come up.
He’s happy to be surrounded by a growing community of comedians in Newcastle.
“There’s so many opportunities in regional NSW. I wouldn’t be so special if I were in Sydney, but here it’s like there’s this thing that’s happening and not many people know about it and a lot of good work is coming out of it,” he says.
“I think it takes people by surprise,” he says.
His next big project: a one-day comedy festival on Monday, October 2 (the long holiday weekend), called This is not This is Not Art.