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Asher game for a laugh
Asher Treleaven. Picture: Supplied.

Asher Treleaven likes to have several things on the go. The Australian has three current touring shows - Troubadour, Comic Strip (which he will soon present at the Edinburgh Fringe with his wife, Gypsy Wood) and Secret Door, the show he will perform as part of the Perth International Comedy Festival.

"Secret Door was originally a show I did a couple of years ago that really blew up in Edinburgh," he says. "It's about men and blokey things and sex. It's a pretty dirty show, but it's also punctuated with things that are pretty political and dense.

"I wrote it in Paris; I wanted to write a show that was intelligent and simultaneously really dirty at the same time. I kind of enjoy being a bit risque and dirty on stage. Comedy is great for that, the language allows you to create some pretty vivid pictures."

Treleaven says his evaluation of Australian machismo was helped along by being in a city such as Paris, multi-faceted yet relaxed at the same time.

"Living in Paris allowed me to analyse Australian culture a little bit more and think about the kind of blokey monoculture that we're all used to here and are pressured into being part of," he says.

"Paris is a pretty laidback city; everyone is kind of insouciant and relaxed about life, it made me think about life in Australia. I don't know if living there influenced the show directly but it definitely gave me good perspective about living in Australia."

His watchful, cultural eye is present in most of Treleaven's writing, citing a love of doing shows about "isms".

"I wanted to write a show about masculinity and male identity in Australia and the year after that I wrote a show about nationalism and racism in Australia," he says, referring to Matador, recently performed at the Brisbane Comedy Festival.

"I've always liked the idea of writing about big issues; whether or not I've got the chops to illuminate them or bring something new to them is something else (laughs). I've always enjoyed sociopolitical comedy shows that make you think and maybe stimulate you."

Billing himself as a "notorious ponce", Treleaven's comedy is given to wild gesticulations. One wonders how physical he gets when writing comedy from behind a keyboard.

"My background is in circus and in doing big, physical characters," he says. "I've brought that with me to my stand-up work. I spend a lot of time writing scripts, sat down. But then I get on the floor and it's always great fun to bring stories and imagery to life by jumping around and flailing about."

It's the comedy circuit that Treleaven inhabits these days, but with a natural physicality honed at the National Institute of Circus Arts and a two-year stint with La Clique in Melbourne and the UK, the circus world still excites him.

"They're my people; I love those weird, carny freaks," he says fondly. "It's a really good environment of weirdos."

Bob Gordon <div class="endnote">

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