Comedian, radio star, actor and, most significantly, father. These are just a few of the roles Merrick Watts currently occupies. After shooting to fame as one half of the Merrick and Rosso comedy duo in 1998, almost 20 years on the talented performer is still as stomach-achingly funny as ever — “And handsome, you left that bit out!” Merrick jokes.
Since finding his initial success with Tim ‘Rosso’ Ross, which saw the pair dominate breakfast radio for the better part of the 00’s as well as various television and stand-up spin off’s, Merrick has been working steadily in show business. From a foray into acting in Underbelly’s A Tale of Two Cities, through numerous guest appearances on comedy shows such as Thank God You’re Here and Have You Been Paying Attention?, to hosting his current drive-time radio show Merrickville on Triple M, Merrick has come to be a well respected media veteran at just 43 years of age.
It’s then hard to believe that, after a break from stand-up, Merrick is just now embarking on his first ever solo comedy show tour.
“About ten years ago, the last time Rosso and I did a tour, I just felt like I had done it all… We weren’t doing enough new stuff, we were doing shows to put on shows. I think Rosso probably felt the same. To be honest, I kind of lost the love for it and took some time off. A few years ago I was doing some solo gigs here and there and was warmly reminded of how much great camaraderie there is with other comedians.
“I didn’t want to do another show just for the sake of doing another show. I wanted to wait until I had a story to tell; a show that has a beginning, middle and end. I wanted it to be personal and different from anything that I had done. I’ve being toying with the idea of a solo tour for the last two to three years. To me, now just felt like the right time.”
Showing across the country, the hour long performance is set to take on ‘all the question’s nobody’s asking’ with no holds barred.
“I compare my experience with fatherhood and how children are now to what it was like when I was growing up, and commenting on the parenting style during the 70s and 80s – most of those methods are illegal now! Let’s face it, if you were to try and bring up a child with an 80s methodology now you would have DOCS around to your house asking a few questions.”
Known for blending his unique style of comedy with hilarious antidotes from his personal life, audiences can expect the same kind of openness from Merrick’s upcoming solo tour.
“The show is largely about my family and my upbringing, it’s quite personal. I’m quite an open person. Whenever I’m on radio or television, I’m quite open with my stories about my family and my life. With the show I go that extra step and talk about things that for one reason or another I can’t talk about on those platforms.”
For Merrick’s two young children, it is easy to imagine having a comedian father equates to the Watts’ family home being full of non-stop laughs and lighthearted humour. Whilst this may be true, Merrick says he and his wife, Georgie, also encourage their offspring to not place any unnecessary value on living a life in the limelight.
“It is funny, because obviously my kids have never seen me do stand-up but they have seen me on television and listened to my radio shows before. In our house we don’t try to pretend that I do a job that I don’t do, but we also don’t put any great emphasis on me working in show business as being any more special than anybody else’s job. Quite frankly, the parents of my children’s friends actually have genuine qualifications whereas I repeated year 11. So, they are probably a little bit more special than me,” Merrick modestly remarks.
“If you were to ask my kids now what their father does they’d say ‘He makes people happy and he makes people laugh’, which I think is awesome!”
However, these days it is not just Merrick who is creating the laughs in the Watts household. When asked if either of his children inherited his gift for performance, Merrick replies with an astounding “Ohh yes!”
“We have a mini performer in the family. My son, Wolfe, is seven and he is just like his mother – very placid, easygoing and just a beautiful warm child. I don’t think he has any interest in being a performer at all… My daughter, Kinga, who is five – Oh my god! – she is a performer! Although incredibly well behaved, she is quite gregarious. What I love is seeing that aspect of my personality but manifested in a female form.”
Being a performer is something that Merrick speaks of passionately, however, to many the mere thought of any form of public speaking is enough the elicit an overwhelming fear. Considering then that this is how the entertaining personality make his living is quite remarkable, however, performing on stage in front of a live audience is situated well within Merrick’s own comfort zone.
“I’m clearly unhinged. I’ve always said that any person who goes and puts themselves in the most terrifying circumstances, and not only is comfortable with it but actually thrives in that environment, clearly has something loose in the old brain basket. It does take a certain type of person to be able to get past that fear. Sometimes I do get a little bit nervous and I think I will have some degree of anxiety in the lead up to this tour, but that will fizzle out as soon as I’m on stage.”
To Merrick, a successful comedy show is one that continues to evolve as the audiences change and the tour progresses – something that he will purposefully set out to do.
“A really good show should offer something unique every night. If someone came and saw me two nights in a row they should be able to walk out saying, ‘Wow, there is a fair bit in there that I hadn’t seen the night before’. And, that’s what I’ll try to do.”
Merrick Watts’ will perform his new stand-up show ‘Man Of The Hour’ at the Sydney Comedy Festival this May. Tickets are now available at sydneycomedyfest.com.au