Recently I lost a hard drive containing much that I thought was important. Because it is now lost, I now have no idea how important any of it was until I remember what I no longer have. In the process of going over what I have that I no longer knew I had, I found this. I can't remember who supplied the questions, but thank you, whoever it was. It seems like it might have been fun, for both of us. My guess is it was written in 2003.
Jon Doust: Author of two children’s books, Magpie Mischief (Freo Arts Centre Press) and Mag Wheel Madness (recently accepted by Freo Arts Centre Press) prolific Perth comedian, failed politician and general visionary/transcendentalist.
Here is an interview that I had the pleasure of having with the man himself.
TP: When did you first realise you were funny?
JD: Well, ever since I was a kid I had been told that people thought I was funny. In boarding school it helped me a lot, I was often depressed, so it was a kind of escape.
TP: When did you begin writing?
JD: Ever since I was a kid. I wrote a diary when I was twelve, when I was in boarding school. I began writing creatively then too. It help con the teachers into thinking I knew more than I did.
TP: So how did you end up getting published?
JD: With Magpie Mischief, Ken Spillman and I just submitted it to Fremantle Arts Press and they accepted it.
TP: So you were accepted first time?
JD: No, no, I’d submitted many short stories, and submitted a different kid’s book, also with Ken Spillman. They were rejected. I’d had a couple of short story/essay type things published. And, because I was a journalist for many years, lots of crap.
TP: So how did you become a comedian?
JD: I fell.
TP: You fell?
JD: Yeah, I just fell into it. I just started doing some stand-up in pubs and slowly got into the industry. I did a bit of collaboration with Rodney Rude, which I found very unsatisfying. Now I don’t live off stand-up, I only do the Busselton Comedy Festival. Now I’m a public speaker, doing corporate seminars, conferences and stuff.
TP: How many drug addictions/nervous breakdowns/epiphanies did you experience before being published?
JD: Yep, sixty-seven divided by four plus ten.
TP: How do you feel about people who write predominantly for money?
JD: I don’t have any problem with it, even though I don’t agree with it or do it myself, but if someone wants to make a living out of writing or comedy, then power to them. There are many comedians I dislike, but they’re supporting the comedy scene, so good for them.
TP: Future aspirations?
JD: I definitely want a novel published on my own. I’ve written one, about my boarding school years. I’m working on a book of short stories and I’d like to get them published. Some people just keep writing, forever, but that’s not my goal. I’ve got a few stories in me that I want to get out, but five or six is my goal. That’s all I want to write, even if they don’t get published.
TP: Whom would you most like to meet?
JD: Jesus Christ. But not in the same way most people think. First he was this carpenter guy, up until he was thirty, but then he started talking to people and then people wanted him killed. What the fuck happened there? You know, we know a whole lot about Muhammad and Buddha, their lives, but Jesus, he just comes in, starts talking, and they kill him. And what happened when Jesus found out that he was the son of god and then died, did he ask dad, what the fuck happened there? So yeah, that’s who’d I’d like to meet. The whole father/son thing fascinates me.
TP: Whom would you most like to slap?
JD: Slap? Or beat the shit out of?
TP: Just slap.
JD: Just once? And is it just a meaningless slap?
TP: No, a slap to wake someone up, to see what they’re doing or something.
JD: Oh yeah, that’s a hard question, there’s so many people out there I’d like to slap. I’d probably pick Johnnie Howard, tell him, what the fuck are you doing mate?
TP: So why not pick George Bush then, if the war and various similar issues are your reason for slapping?
JD: Because at least I can see hope with Howard, hope for change. Bush is just too bloody stupid, it just wouldn’t work. Now that I think about it, it wouldn’t work well with John Howard either. I’d probably pick Kim Beasley then, because I’d had some hope for him and he lost it.
TP: Why write?
JD: If I didn’t, I’d explode and die. I need writing to express myself, to vent emotion, and to visit a side of myself I often don’t visit. Comedy and writing are what keep me balanced. Comedy is like what I am out in public; I act the fool, that’s me. But on the other side, writing allows me to visit the more serious side of me. Often, my writing is very dark, especially in my short stories and novels.
TP: What are your sources of inspiration?
JD: I don’t have a certain source of inspiration, sometimes I find I don’t even need to seek out inspiration, it just comes. Breaks in routine work the best for me, so I might dance around my backyard naked, or I’ll go to a café, or I’ll have a shower. Nothing specific.
*TP: Favourite writers?
Amos Oz, Elmore Leonard, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Jim Crace, WG Sebald, Don Di Lillo, SJ Pearlman, Grouch Marx, Heinrich Boll.
*TP: Favourite comedians?
Spike Milligan, All the Pythons, Alexi Sayle, Steve Wright, Woody Allen, Robert Klein, Richard Pryor, John Clarke, Rod Quantock, Jackie Mason.