Chris Daniel sits down with Wollongong comedian, Frenchy, to talk about his recent projects and current tour, before his visit to Newcastle this October.
Ben French, known best for his nickname “Frenchy” and not his nationality, quickly caught the attention of the Internet with his crude and ruthless humour, usually aimed towards stereotypical Australian culture.
After having his teaching license suspended, he shifted his priorities to adapt to the success of his YouTube channel. With all eyes on him, he is known for taking on the personas of university students, finding other uses for sex toys and what he considers to be the best invention yet, Tinder.
Frenchy recently visited the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in the UK with his tour World’s Worst Adult, which, judging by its name, is fairly self explanatory.
CD: It seems as though I’ve been watching your videos for years now.
Fenchy: Totally worth it! Do you have a favourite?
CD: I have to admit, I enjoyed the Friendzone video you uploaded; I had no idea that you had any musical talent.
Frenchy: Ah man, makes me cry every time. It’s just too relatable. Brings a lot of flashbacks.
CD: How on earth did you manage to pull that off?
Frenchy: I did it with my mate, Zach Gervais, who is a very good musician. I told him that I would write the lyrics and he would take care of the music. I dropped the song while I was overseas, and when I woke up, I saw that it was number 30 on the charts. I thought it was going to be a good song, but I didn’t expect people to actually buy it because they could watch it online for free.
CD: I actually finished watching The Australiana Hostel. Do you hope to see your acting career go anywhere from here?
Frenchy: It would be nice if it did, so that I didn’t have to make my own videos all the time; I could just roll with it. The third one was interesting to make; I froth over Lord Of The Rings, so the content with Tom [Armstrong] and the Roundabout Crew was a lot of fun. And it was good to get some acting out of it too.
CD: How do you get everyone involved?
Frenchy: Usually it’s just with whoever is around. I live with five mates and I know a couple of people around Sydney too. A couple of them have hit me up about making videos because they haven’t made any matches on Tinder lately.
CD: Will you keep Tinder running when you get to Newcastle?
Frenchy: I’ll probably just drive up so I can get in range and then give it a quick swipe.
CD: What is the future for The Australiana Hostel?
Frenchy: At the moment, its just a trilogy. We only had the funding for about three episodes. We got $100,000, which you would think to be a lot, but it really isn’t after you pay people. We are trying to pitch it to a few different networks, so I guess we will see what happens.
(Above: The Australiana Hostel written by Frenchy and Tom Armstrong).
CD: Coming from Wollongong, do you write your jokes, or does the influence of the area mean they write themselves?
Frenchy: It’s a good town for comedy. For my first ever show, [my comedy] was heavily influenced by Wollongong. I talked about growing up there, working at Jamberoo Action Park and my experiences working as a ‘glassie’ in a nightclub called The Glasshouse.
CD: You just finished your comedy leg at Edinburgh Fringe Fest. How did the people of the UK react to your humour?
Frenchy: That’s a very good question. Some people just don’t understand my humour and they look at me like I’m speaking a different language. Since it was Fringe Fest, people just bought tickets for any random show. Some people were like ‘Oh Frenchy? That sounds like fun, I’ve been to France’.
I had this one night where there were about 40 people packed into a room, and in the front row was this family from Oxford. And out comes me. They didn’t last long – they didn’t want a bar of me.
CD: When I watched your Live and Lanky set, I didn’t understand how they allowed kids into your shows. You would assume the parents would read the content warning first.
Frenchy: Well, there is a content warning, but I manage to just get away with it. Since I’m a hustler, I don’t care, as long as they pay for the show. Also, a lot of the jokes go over their heads.
CD: During that set, you touched briefly on how you got your teaching license suspended. What was the transition like from doing that for a living, to making YouTube videos and stand up?
Frenchy: In my show, I always say I got suspended for making an inappropriate video, but what actually happened was I filmed a video called Jamal with half of the students in my class. I did tell the principal, but she didn’t sign off on it, and then half the students didn’t get their permission notes signed by their parents. As soon as it came up online, they all saw it.
CD: Talking about being a teacher, student exams are coming up, what is the best or worst advice you have for them?
Frenchy: I don’t really have much advice for exams, but I would recommend showing up to them. On the other hand, I do have a lot of advice for ‘schoolies’.
CD: Let’s hear it.
Frenchy: Buy a lot of Panadol…
CD: In most of your shows, you receive a lot of comparisons; Anaemic Giraffe, Ellen Degeneres if she grew up next to a nuclear power plant, Gumbi’s ugly cousin etc. Have there been any memorable or offensive ones you have received?
Frenchy: “You would think I’d be offended, but I find them really funny. People tend to laugh most at the Sid the Sloth one, but I can’t see the resemblance.
CD: You can’t see the resemblance? The comparison is uncanny.
Frenchy: I can live with that.
CD: For the tour, it is fairly self explanatory, but is there an underlying meaning for World’s Worst Adult?
Frenchy: It’s essentially just about how immature I am and that I will probably never grow up. I’m just too old to be doing what I’m doing.
CD: What can we expect?
Frenchy: You can expect some crude Aussie comedy and me being absolutely ruthless. The show ends with a story that will haunt you in your dreams.
CD: Word of warning, you will have a few hecklers in your Newcastle show. Do you have anything to say to them in advance?
Frenchy: Take a shot, because I’ll be ready for you. Usually I’ll take them on once, but if they keep going, I’ll usually walk up to where they’re sitting and talk about their appearance.
CD: No mercy.
Frenchy’s Worlds Worst Adult will be hitting Newcastle late October.
Where: Wests New Lambton
When: October 29th, 8:30pm
Tickets available here
If you haven’t already, check out some of Frenchy’s material.
Youtube: Frenchy SungaAttack
Feature image via Frontier Touring. No changes made.