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Festival a masterclass for local clown

ALEXANDRIA: Nic Doring of Alexandria Park Community School is a conscientious student and a keen skateboarder. He also likes to collect and tell jokes. In late March he was crowned state champion as part of a Class Clowns development program sponsored by the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. He then competed with other state champions and “wild card” entrants in the National Grand Final held at Melbourne’s Forum Theatre, where his stand-up routine won him rapturous applause and a runners-up accolade.

Nic Doring at the Forum Theatre in Melbourne (Jim Lee Photos)

A fan of well-crafted comedy in various genres – from Lano and Woodley to Black Books and Father Ted – the teen comic is grateful for the experience in writing and performing. “My teachers [at Alexandria Park] Geraldine Prexl and Harry Jun were so supportive,” he recalls. “In response to a joke I made about breaking my arm (as a result of excessive study), Ms Prexl handed me the Class Clowns registration form. Mr Jun, who teaches Korean and English, is a stand-up comic himself. He helped me prepare a routine and made regular time after school for practice.”

The state finals were held at the Riverside Theatre in Parramatta. With his proud dad and brother in the audience, Nic took the stage for the very first time in his life and delivered a winning five-minute routine on the theme of family. “My opening joke was about Dad,” he grins.

The grand final on April 20 was hosted by Nath Valvo with guest performances by Irish funny-man David O’Doherty and comedy triple-threats the Travelling Sisters. Nic’s sisters, too, and mum, travelled to Melbourne to show their support.

Dressed in casual attire (black jeans and sneakers, a grey jumper), Nic delivered his lines with growing confidence. “A festival workshop on stagecraft was really helpful, with good tips. We were encouraged to step to the mic and stay put. The first joke is important. Once the audience starts laughing you feel more relaxed,” he says. “Though I think I might try moving around a bit more next time.”

Class clowns 2018. Photo: Jim Lee

Class clowns 2018. Photo: Jim Lee

Comedy is an enduring interest. Nic now looks forward to taking part in local open mic events. He imagines he’ll continue collecting jokes. “It’s interesting,” he says, “thinking about comedy. Why it’s good to laugh. The way it brings people together. The issues it raises. The tensions it releases. The vulnerabilities and risks. I’m aware there’s a line, there’s always a line, and the challenge is to nudge it or go around it somehow. Comedians do cross the line, of course, but often that’s too easy. There’s a lot to learn.”

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