Harley Breen takes on stand-up challenge for TV pilot
ONE of Bundaberg's funniest exports is vying for viewer support as part of Channel 10's Pilot Week.
Comedian Harley Breen will feature in a pilot episode during the network's special week of programming. Ratings, social media buzz and viewer feedback will determine which of the eight pilots will be picked up for a full season next year.
Traditionally, pilots are screened for TV executives behind closed doors and the public only gets to see those which are successful.
Breen, who attended Bundaberg State High School before moving to Brisbane at the age of 16, is putting his comedy chops to the test in a local version of the hit Belgian series Taboo.
The show sends a stand-up comedian to spend a week with a group of disadvantaged people to learn about their life experiences and use them as inspiration to write a stand-up routine.
In the case of the Australian pilot, Breen spent five days with four Aussies with varying physical disabilities.
"From the point of view of a stand-up comic I couldn't have ask for a better project to be involved in," he said.
"I've always done really honest, autobiographical comedy. I don't talk about stuff outside my life usually, so to immerse myself in their lives for a week was a privilege.
"All of a sudden the mechanics of their disability went away and became invisible and it was about them as people and who they are."
He then had just seven days to write his routine and perform it in front of an audience with his subjects sitting in the front row.
"The thing that was hard was the time frame," he said.
"Even if this show didn't exist and I'd hung out with those four people on holiday then I would have absolutely written jokes about them.
"I was absolutely chuffed to have them in the audience. It upped the ante and raised the stakes for the whole audience. The audience knew they were in the front and they knew the challenge I had ahead of me, so everybody had this buzzing nervous level of energy which is great for comedy. If you can get everyone up to that point of 'I don't know if this is OK' and give them the punchline and that relief then boom you get the laughter."
As its name suggests, Taboo aims to dispel the stigmas and misconceptions surrounding minority groups.
"I don't think there's any subject that's off limits," Breen said.
"But how are you telling that story? Who's the winner and the loser in the way you're telling that story and what's the purpose? There's no right or wrong in stand-up comedy, but I impose a parameter on myself that I don't punch down."
The pilot for Taboo airs tonight at 9pm on Ten/WIN.