The Old Fella!
It’s a long way from Yorke Peninsula to the grand final of a national talent competition. Rod Gregory’s now back home in Maitland, but when Leigh called in for a chat, she found that the success of “The Old Fella” how has Rod reconsidering his retirement plans.
Leigh: Have you always been a comedian?
Rod: No, look I’m far from being a comedian, and most people around here would consider me the more serious type. I really just went to do a little ten week course in Adelaide about comedy to learn how to create a character because I want to do short story writing in my retirement.
Leigh: Did you ever go into it thinking I’m going into this to make a quid?
Rod: No. Look I went into it originally very selfish reason, I thought it was too hard to sell a ticket to a comedy show and we needed to have a peg to hang our hat on. I actually joined hoping to get two minutes on national television just to make it easier so that when we did our advertising for “The Old Fella” people knew who he was rather than have to start from square one.
Leigh: Rod, this isn’t just about you it’s also the family, the kids, the grandkids, what did they think about it all?
Rod: Look I honestly think that they’ve all come along for the ride but almost reluctantly because I remember the first time I told my wife Toni I was going to do this, she said “you’re not going to stand up and make a fool of yourself on stage like some of those other buggers are you?”
Toni: Myself and our two daughters were we were absolutely terrified of Rodney retiring, because of his health he should have retired two years earlier, and he just kept putting it off and putting it off, because he was petrified he’d have nothing to do.
Leigh: Now the whole Australia’s Got Talent experience, what was the biggest surprise in it?
Rod: I think we all just assumed that you turn your television on and it’s just there, but one of the best things I learnt was in that Grand Final they flew us across three days earlier, for me to do two minutes on stage, and it’s hurry up and wait for four days basically, to put on what is an hour, or hour and a bit show.
Leigh: You’re in the final, there are some really different competitors I suppose, what did you think of them?
Rod: Look, I thought they were all marvellous. There wasn’t any one of them that you wouldn’t have brought home proudly to have a meal with the family, and I think because all of our acts were all so completely different there wasn’t any animosity between any of us. We weren’t in a competition like you are on the football field or a tennis game, it was, we enjoyed one another’s stuff.
Leigh: It seems to me that now there is a whole new generation of Australians who are out there and really enjoying your style of comedy?
Rod: Well you see I don’t know whether mines good or not.
Leigh: Hey if they’re laughing it’s great!
Rod: Yeah and it is, it’s great. Mine is extremely simple stuff, it’s just stand up, knock em down comedy, take the f’s and c’s out.
Leigh: That’s why it strikes a chord.
Rod: Look I think so. I have young comedians that do not agree with me, they think that you need to put an f in to give it some punch, I tell them every time they use an f it’s a chance that they’ve lost to use a real adjective to describe a scene. And I do that, an anybody watching my stuff will recognise most of my jokes form the 50’s and 60’s, I don’t claim to have written it, I just claim to tell them and it’s great fun.
Leigh: Well it’s been a hell of a ride so far, what has it been like?
Rod: Look it’s just marvellous, and I love doing it, and even though I said on national television but I’d actually pay to do it, now it is. It’s turned into a lucrative little business for me, I took bookings this morning for April and May next year, so it’s just been incredible what a few minutes on national television will buy for you.
Leigh: I have to say Rod, you genuinely look and sound like you’re really enjoying and loving what you’re doing?
Rod: I do. Yeah, I do. Genuinely. The alternative is lawn bowls.
Leigh: Not that there’s anything wrong with that!
Rod: (laughs) I know! But my backs not good enough for me to do that. But really speaking, the alternative for me is bowls and golf and fishing of the Port Victoria jetty and I’m hoping when this wave has hit the shore I’ll still be able to do that later on.
Leigh: It’s interesting when you say when the wave hits the shore, so you have a fairly pragmatic attitude to this, that this may not be for ever?
Rod: Oh yes, very much so, I mean I’m 68, been around a while, if this is still going in 5 years’ time I’m going to be 73, (laughs) don’t know whether I want to be doing it then, just at present I can’t imagine my life without it.
Leigh: Can I take the line? Because as you’d say “I wouldn’t be dead for quids”.
Rod: You certainly may. Yeah.
Leigh: Thank you.