Entertainment Hive 2020

Akmal pays it off with laughs

By Honey B

Comedian Akmal Saleh is touring a new show to “pay off’’ the debt collectors. But it seems Akmal would take his chances with the debt collectors rather than go anywhere near the jungle or the Aussie bush. As one of Australia’s best-loved comedians, Akmal tried his luck in Channel 10s television show I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here earlier this year and it was a tough gig. “Having that experience in the jungle I’d definitely go with the debt collectors,’’ Akmal says. “I would probably be more comfortable with the debut collectors than I would be in the jungle and it would probably be less scary and more private! “In this show I talk about a lot of things and I have never been a comedian who has done themes very well. “I can’t come up with a show where you say stuff about your bike or your trip to India. “So I don’t really know what this show is about, but it might keep the debt collectors away and I’ll probably have some things to say about the jungle.’’ As for heading bush, Akmal has also been there and done that after purchasing a house in the NSW hinterland with his struggle to sell it regularly screened on Foxtel. “Oh that show just keeps getting repeated to death – I didn’t think we would still be seeing it. “And yes, we sold the house. But we lost a lot of money though and it was really a stupid purchase. “My wife and I are both very impulsive and it was one of those purchases that we thought would be an adventure. “Let’s go and live in this bushland jungle and it was a terrible idea – there were things trying to kill us! “It was a stunning place but we couldn’t deal with the snakes and the bush rats because we are city people and we are not equipped for all of that.’’ So what compelled Akmal to head into the African wilds for a TV show? “I couldn’t believe I lasted so long in I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, but I actually thought that If I said those words that I would be able to leave. “But they didn’t let you out. I said that phrase at least twice and they just wouldn’t let me go. I think I said it on the first day. “I’m a comedian and sports people do really well on that show as they are fitter and used to following orders. Whereas comedians don’t like to take orders and we challenge orders. “Everyone must have thought I was being funny when I wanted to get out of there.’’ Akmal says his show is really about getting laughs. “I improvise a lot on-stage and most of my material has been improvised on-stage as I am too lazy to write anything beforehand. “So my show changes every night and with every audience and it keeps it very interesting for me and for the audience. No two shows are the same. “I have a lot of opportunity to open up and play and find out what is funny and what’s not and I’m so lucky to have a supportive audience that lets me do that’’ Not only does Akmal have  loyal following but he will be performing his latest show in the beautiful surrounds of the Dunstan Playhouse at the Festival Theatre. “Playing a theatre is really different to playing a club. There is no-one serving drinks and there is no Keno sign flashing in our eyes. “You do get a bit more respect and it does give you the chance to take a few more risks because you know that you are comfortable, you have a proper stage and you have proper lighting and all of that makes a difference in the comedy world.’’ While Akmal tries to stay away from the bush and the jungle – he’s trying an outback setting as a lizard in the upcoming television series The Adventures of Blinky Bill coming to Channel 7 in September. “I am the voice of Jacko the Lizard in this cartoon series which is very exciting.’’ Akmal, Adelaide Festival Centre, Dunstan Playhouse, 15 to 16 July. Bookings: BASS 131 246
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