Multi-talented individual Andrew Horabin

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So … just what has a man gotta do to be a man in Port Macquarie? Find out on July 19 at the Glasshouse, when Andrew Horabin tries to determine exactly that! Andrew is well known as a comedian, singer song-writer, public speaker, and author. This multi-talented individual shares some unique insights about his show, and life…

So what do you think a man has to be a man in our town – Port Macquarie?

I’m coming there to find that out! I’ll be able to tell you that after the show. I can tell you what a man’s gotta do to be a man in other towns, but each town is just a little bit different. That’s why it’s such a fascinating show!

In the interval, people fill in a survey card with three questions on it, and the first question is, “What’s a man gotta do to be a man in your town?” In the second half of the show, I read the answers out on stage. And that’s when I find the answer.

I’ve done 9 towns in WA so far, and whether it’s a mining town, or a wheat growing town – we find they’re all just a little bit different.

So, tell us in your own words about the story presented in the show …

The story is about a young bloke about to get married. He’s at his Buck’s night, and the Bucks and the Hens end up clashing in the street outside a strip joint, and the Hens aren’t too impressed. The bride calls off the wedding, believing the young bloke will never grow up. He begs for a second chance – and she gives him 24 hours to prove he’s a man, otherwise the wedding is off!

It’s all about what would you do to prove you’re a man in 24 hours …

You’ve done 9 shows so far, as you mentioned, and you’re visiting 50 towns all up on the tour. Have you seen any common elements so far in people’s answers?

There are some things that are common. One is that when you don’t initiate boys into manhood, one of the possibilities seems to be that they never quite get there; they can still be a child at 50 years old. Another possibility is they get there, but make an absolute mess of things for many years … or, the young blokes try to initiate themselves.

Initiation is something that has happened for literally thousands of years all over the world. Every culture had rites, rituals and ceremonies, where boys were picked by their elders either on their age or their behaviour. In some cultures, these ceremonies were pretty full on and could kill you, but it was so essential to the preservation of the culture and to the role of the man, that it was worth that risk …

That need for initiation still lives in the psyche of young men. It’s not like they hit a certain age, like 15, and say, “I need initiation into becoming a man now”…they just start taking crazy risks, pushing the boundaries, running in packs and challenging themselves. And without any elders showing them how hot to set the fire, they either don’t set it hot enough to provide a meaningful experience, or they set it too hot and do things that are completely reckless.

There are examples all around the country of young men wrapping their cars around a tree, getting themselves into fights, or unable to cope with life and killing themselves. The statistics on young male suicide are staggering.

So that’s one of the threads. Some of the older guys in their 70s left home when they were 16 and went out working on properties, and nowadays there are men in their 30s still living at home with mum doing their washing. It’s a different time now …

So in essence, even though the show is a musical comedy, what you’re saying is that there’s a very serious thread to the whole performance …

The serious thread is the whole reason I wanted to do this show. When I was 20-21, I knew I was supposed to be a man, but I didn’t really know what that meant. I didn’t really know how to handle myself in the world of adults, what kind of relationship I should be having with women, and I couldn’t believe I’d been released in this world without being prepared for it.

I started reading about this and rites of passage, and I became very interested in it. I decided to write a musical comedy, because if you make people laugh, they go away and think …

You’ve done so many things with your life – you’re an author, public speaker, comedian, musician … how do you fit all of this in? How do you describe what you do to others?

I’ve never been able to describe it very well! Now that I think about it, I think the secret is not over-identifying yourself with your job. People do tend to over-identify with their job: “I am a CEO” or “I am a doctor” … they think that’s who they are; but it’s not! It’s just what they’re doing while they work.

I’m a parent now too, so I’m not working as much as I used to. It’s about priorities; I’ve been touring a lot this year, and next year when the touring is finished, I’ll probably schedule some more of the corporate work I do. One of the things I’ve learned as I’ve grown older is that I can’t fit it all in! You can’t schedule parenting to fit into neat 15 minute blocks!

Considering how varied your career is, do you have a preference for comedy, or singing/song-writing, or even public speaking? They’re all types of communication after all …

What I love is that every single week is different. I can be speaking to the finance section of a big mining company, and two days later be doing stand up in a pub, then the next day working with undercover Police. Every group is different, every situation is different – and I’d get bored if I was doing the same thing all the time! I have an aversion to routine!

You’ve come a long way from the lad who discovered a love of debating in school, which ultimately led to a multi-faceted communications career … but what’s next?

I want to continually get better at what I do. I wrote the book Bullshift, which has been very successful … the show has been going very well, and I’d love to play for a full house in every town. Ultimately, I’d love to work with film. The story line I present on stage is very simple, but you could do so much more with it on film. Watch the video clip, You’ve gotta be a bloke, mate at: www.wamgd.com. I reckon the whole show would make a great movie.

Thanks Andrew. 

Interview by Jo Atkins.

This story was published in issue 80 Greater Port Macquarie Focus

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