Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on March 2010
Where are you from, and how did you end up in Japan?
You can’t get more Ozzi than my heritage. I was born in Darlinghurst (King’s Cross) in Sydney, eighth-generation Australian, which is as far back as you can go for an Aussie. My ancestor Jim Hawkins from Belfast stole a block of land that didn’t belong to him, so he was one of the first to be given the long slow boat ride down under. Thanks Jim! I ended up in Japan in ‘93 while on a tour of sampling the world’s best food, and when I got here I loved the differences everywhere I looked. The only things similar to Australia were the beer and the shape of the eggs. I work now for a company that edutains children; I do a three-person show all over the country two or three weekends a month.
How did you get into comedy?
I think having an over-the-top entertaining, opera-singing mum, it’s just in my blood. I’ve been doing crazy things my whole life and can’t see myself stopping anytime soon. I do the monthly Tokyo Comedy Store at The Crocodile in Shibuya, and I write a lot of comedy for the stage—every day, in fact—but I find just talking about my week gets the laughs required to get through my sets. My good friends who come to see me do comedy for the first time usually say pretty much the same thing when I get off stage: “That was funny, Cloudy, but it’s just you with a mic.”
Don’t you sometimes freak people out?
As you progress in freaking people out in public, you learn what not to do. Sitting on a train where I’m visible from the opposite seats, I have a rubber cockroach with me that I’ll slip into my mouth with nobody spotting me. When some poor unsuspecting OL is looking at me from six feet away, I move it around with my tongue and let the head stick in and out a couple of times, and then make it look as if it’s jumped out of my mouth. I then grab it and give a look around, like “Gee! I hope nobody saw that”. But each of the three girls I’ve done that to has screamed, making everyone on the train look at them. I don’t do that one any more.
All this crazy stuff. Why?
Why? Good question. I never think about what I’ll get out of my stunts other than helping people realize they don’t have to make the programmed responses that humans are conditioned to make, depending on their culture, religion, morals, or anything else that keeps people mentally bound. “Poor is the man whose pleasures and fun are subject to the permission of others.” My rewards are to see other people smile, hear them laugh, and leave an eventual positive impression on all those I encounter, from a quick smile to giving them some lasting memory that will help improve their mental evolution in this “Human Race.”
What inspires you?
I’ve been working at schools for handicapped kids for ten years now. I’m really honored to work with them. It really gives me a sense of what a real complaint is. I hear some fools I know complaining about having to walk somewhere, and I feel like dragging them to the bedside of a little girl or boy I’ve just been with, whose dream it is to be able to walk anywhere. I’m friends with kids and young crew who know that they might die in a few years or months. They are my heroes. I can never complain about anything in my life again after getting to know these little darlings.
What’s your philosophy on life?
You’re only in trouble if you care. Try and think outside of what you know. This world is a lot more than the things that surround you. I want people to know that anything I can do, they can do too.
Cloudy Bongwater will debut a monthly show with Eric Jacobsen from NHK’s children’s show Eigo de Asobou at The Hobgoblin in Shibuya on March 25. His comedy rock CD Kinjo no Gaijin is available in stores and online.