TROY Kinne, a local comedian is now touring the country for his show called Get Made. He has moved pretty far since his sketch comedy days in Sale, and he spoke to the Gippsland Times about his upbringing, New York and everything in between.

Ben McArthur: You’ve had a reasonably successful career with your TV show and stand-ups. Looking back on it, where did it all begin?

Troy Kinne: I grew up in Sale and went to Sale High School before it changed its name (to Sale College). In Year 10, we went on a long trip for school camp to Central Australia, where a video camera was assigned to a “responsible” girl, who I think was called Bianca and she was the only one allowed to use it. Still, one day, she left it unattended under a bus seat in the bag. Me and my mate Brett Glover (now in real estate) took that video camera while camping and wandered off to film a sketch.

BM: Can you remember that sketch?

TK: The first sketch I think we did was about doing stuff against the signs, like one would say no running on the path, and we’d say, ‘Can you run on the path without getting caught?’ and do it or a shop with a sign saying you couldn’t stand and read newspapers without buying them so we’d stand and read for 30 seconds. I remember that at the end of a day, the teachers played back what Bianca had filmed, but then, at the end, there was that dumb thing Brett and I had done. There was this one teacher who called us over. I thought he was about to tell us off, but instead, he gave us a piece of paper of sketch ideas.

BM: What happened after camp?

TK: When camp ended, we went to the school library and asked for the video camera; if you just said you were filming it for a media studies project, and you had to say ‘project’, they believed you and wouldn’t ask any more questions. Most of our sketches were just worse versions of stuff we saw on the Late Show by D-Generation, but it sparked a passion. It blows the minds of some of the younger people when I tell them I made these sketches purely to show my friends and family. About 12 people would see it, because there was no YouTube in those days. You also couldn’t edit them, so if I was going to talk and then you were going to talk, you had to film me, and then you and then me again. But some of my best sketches were from those days; they’re still on video somewhere.

BM: Then High School ended, and I saw that you went to LaTrobe University for a media studies degree.

TK: Yeah, that’s right, but I learned nothing I can use today; none of it applies. However, it did help me focus on the creative side, and that’s how I took the next step to work in a community radio station called Kix FM. I felt like we were so out of place because that station was all dance music and song requests, but on our show, we didn’t take requests; we just wanted to do funny sketches like Martin/Malloy (cast of the Late Show). So, the audience hated us for a while because we didn’t do what we were meant to, but I think it brought in a new audience, and the director appreciated it. It was up to you what you did and when the movie Chopper came out, we got Vince Colosimo, who just got a message saying that Kix FM wanted to promote your movie. He must’ve gone, ‘Yeah, alright, Kix FM sounds familiar,’ then he comes into the station, and everyone he sees is just work experience kids. So that was a ‘drive time show’. During the day, we would do deliveries at Retravision, and then, in the afternoon, we would do the show on Kix FM. And all that was volunteer; no one got paid.

BM: Did that experience benefit your career?

TK: Yes, because of those sessions, I would send a demo of a CD of our best bits to a few stations, and I sent two but never heard anything back, but one day, a guy from Triple M called and asked why we didn’t send the CD. I was just like, I didn’t think anyone was listening. He said to come in for a chat, and that’s how we worked in Triple M for eight weeks. Then there was a change of management, and as we were getting somewhere, September 11 happened, and the station was covering only that for a while. Brett moved back to Sale, and I left, so I was looking for something new, and that’s how I found stand-up comedy.

BM: Was stand-up comedy a job just to survive?

TK: No, it was just something to do. I suppose I caught the bug and turned out to be pretty good at it, and there were a lot of competitions back then for young comedians, which the venues would host because it would be an excellent money maker, although I’d find out how good it was later in New York. After all, you often bring many friends when you compete, but I won a few of those competitions. The big one I won was at the Comic Lounge, where the winner got a trip to attend the American Comedy Institute’s two-week course run by Stephen Rosenfield, who did writing on SNL, among other things.

BM: Did that course help you?

TK: The writing sessions were invaluable for learning how to write a joke, then edit and break it down, but there was also good experience. The course was mainly for people who had never done comedy, but you would be doing stand-up sets every three days in front of the class, and then at the end, we all do a gig at Carolines in New York, which was a very famous place, and that set was just in the middle of the day with everyone’s friends and family which they filmed. You couldn’t go wrong there because everyone is so supportive, but at the end of the set, I came home with a video where I’m at Carolines in New York on what looks like a Saturday night. Once, I was back in Australia, and you’re trying to perform interstate. It sounds weird, but you need to convince the venues to have you, and that’s a matter of emailing them and calling them to say, “Hey, I’m a Melbourne comedian you have never heard of, but I’m pretty good here’s a clip of me killing it at Caroline’s”, and the other tournaments as well helped me put together a resume.

BM: How long were you in New York after the course?

TK: I ended up doing what was called a ‘bringer’ show, which is when you had to bring six people to a show for five minutes on a stage stand-up, so I had to wrangle people into going, and there were two couples and this old guy who I met at a baseball game but that’s not six. Still, I went in anyway and said I had five, and security said that’s not enough, and I thought he was kidding, he wasn’t. So I just apologised to those people I wrangled and that old guy and I went back to a bar and watched another baseball game on TV, and we kept talking. The old guy was really good he asked when I would return to Australia, and I said soon because I didn’t have the money to stay. and he said, ‘My mother’s place is available cause she died recently’. He mentioned he had a brother and sister who wouldn’t like me staying there, so he goes, ‘If you see someone snooping around, then just leave and take your bag with you.’ I said I would leave every morning and only come back at night to rest and make the bed so if his brother or sister went to the house, it didn’t look like anyone was there, and I left a suitcase in his home and went to comedy clubs and places all around New York.

BM: Did you see anyone famous?

TK: No, every night, I would go into the Comedy Cellar. I got to know the person at the door and explained my financial situation plus I’m an Australian ‘comedian’. he let me in, but usually with a two-drink minimum. There wasn’t anyone big, but you got excited seeing someone with a semi-permanent comedy job, but no one big. Then, on my last day, there was someone different at the door, and I just thought I couldn’t be bothered trying to explain this. I literally had no money left to pay, so I just walked home, and then the next day, someone from my class said that Chris Rock was there and did a set of his Oscars Speech, and I was like, ‘the one night I’m not there he turns up!’

BM: Did you ever see him again?

TK: I did, actually, years later. I went back to New York, and I had a friend who was going out with Amy Schumer, and we became friends. One day, I texted her, saying I was in New York, and she said she was in Boston. Then, when I was at a baseball game, she texted me that I was on at the Comedy Cellar in twenty minutes. And I got to sit at the comedian’s table, and Chris Rock was there. I told him that story.