COMEDIAN Rod Quantock was a second-year architecture student at the University of Melbourne when he discovered his knack for performing on stage.
As part of an annual architect’s revue, he “got drunk for the first time”, plucked up some courage and got up on stage.
“From the moment I walked on stage, I really enjoyed it,” he said.
“At the time there was no concept of Australian comedy – there was no future, unless you made it yourself.”
That was more than 40 years ago; and although many stand-up comedians have been and gone – Quantock has persevered.
And he’ll be in Canberra on Friday, March 2, as part of Enlighten Festival’s “Show us Your Mandate!” comedy night, alongside comedians Tom Ballard, Claire Hooper and Mikey Robins.
Quantock is something of a comedic legend in Australia, and reflects on the days when crowds got angry, heckled, jumped on stage and pulled their pants down just to make a point, a time when he performed in clubs in Fitzroy, Melbourne.
“I just got up on stage and talked, and worked out that was stand-up comedy,” he said.
He went on to work in television on programs including “Ratbags”, “Australia You’re Standing In It”, “Fast Forward”, “Denton” and “Backberner”.
He’s now known for his social, political and environmental comedy.
“All comedians begin their careers auto-biographical,” he says. “They talk about their parents, his girlfriend, or her girlfriend.
“But there comes a time when you either become a celebrity or you get into bigger things than yourself.
“I got into social, political and environmental issues.
“Not everyone gets to speak to 50 to 100 to 1000 people at one time. I thought I could use comedy to change the world… Not that I’ve been able to.”
He’s not sure what material he’ll use in his gig at Old Parliament House, but either way he’s excited to be part of Enlighten and excited to perform in the building which once housed the likes of Prime Ministers Curtin, Menzies and Whitlam.
“Enlighten sounds fantastic,” he says.
“There are so many fantastic things in Canberra, which I’m sure you’re all blasé about, but I love the National Library and Museum. And, of course, Old Parliament House.”