Sabrina Muysken

You’ll most likely recognise him as one of the regular Friday night panellists on Network Ten’s entertainment news program, The Project. Occupying “the funny chair”, as he calls it, Lehmo contributes to the show’s dissection of the weekly Aussie news with a good-humoured wit that audiences across the country have come to love.

“I really love my work on The Project. I genuinely enjoy the process and the team I work with. From meetings with the writers about scripts, through chatting with researchers about funny clips, to coordinating with producers, it’s just a really great, fun environment to be in,” says Lehmo.

“It’s a real joy for me to get into the studio each Friday to work with the team and then, of course, it’s loads of fun once we are on air as well. Live TV is an exciting platform to work on because there are no second takes or reshoots. Whatever happens is out there for the nation to see.”

Before his regular appearances on TV and radio gigs – Lehmo currently co-hosts Melbourne’s GOLD104.3’s successful Jo & Lehmo breakfast radio show, he got his start in the world of entertainment as a comedian. Bringing it back to basics, Lehmo is once again fuelling uncontrollable laughter amongst Sydney-siders with his hilarious new show The Family Lifeboat.

Having recently joined the ranks of fatherhood, Lehmo’s latest performance centres around those unexpected moments that occur after becoming a first-time dad. The new parental role, he says, has naturally supplied endless comedy material for his upcoming shows since day one.

“It’s about a lot of the challenges of having your first child, but from the man’s perspective. I guess you could say it’s a little bit like a live ‘daddy blog’. You think you’re ready for parenthood, and then you just get hit by surprise, after surprise, after surprise,” reflects Lehmo.

“The show talks about how you live the first three months of the child’s life in constant fear that you are going to get something wrong, and your midwife becomes Google! You end up googling everything you could possibly imagine from ‘When will my baby sleep through the night?’ to ‘When will my baby stop crying?’ and ‘How do I get baby poo out of the curtains?’”

As with many comedians, Lehmo regularly draws upon his own personal anecdotes for laughs. Yet, when the topic is as personal as his experiences with his first-born son, it is easy to wonder whether the comic needed to gain his wife’s approval before airing his dirty, err, curtains.

“I occasionally run jokes past my wife and she is a harsh critic! She stares at me with a blank face and she’ll either say ‘That was really funny’ or ‘That wasn’t funny’, but her expression stays exactly the same.

“She did come to see the show in Melbourne, and she gets a number of mentions as I bring up a few behavioural curiosities of hers since the baby was born. After the show, a friend asked over dinner ‘How do you feel about Lehmo saying all those things about you?’ and she said that she couldn’t really complain because they’re all true, it’s just that when you bunch them together it sounds bloody funny,” he laughs.

Following its successful airing at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Lehmo is bringing his show to Sydney’s comedy scene this month. And he facetiously reminds his future audience members to “try and emotionally spread out all the stories over a nine month period” when they hear the comedian talking about his wife.

Prior to taking centre stage in some of Australia’s biggest comedy festivals, Lehmo earned his comedic stripes whilst performing for our troops abroad. Fondly branded Australia’s number one ‘combat comic’, his comedy ‘tours of duty’ have seen him perform in army bases in East Timor, Iraq, Kuwait, UAE, Afghanistan and “two secret countries” that he is not allowed to mention.

“The gigs are really, really good – I always joke that the gigs are always good when the hecklers are armed with guns! On a serious note, the defence force audiences that you get overseas are amongst the most appreciative and best audiences that you’ll ever work to in your life.

“Some of my best ever experiences performing stand-up have been to a group of 100 or 200 soldiers just standing around in the Afghan desert. It’s crazy. You’re surrounded by military hardware, soldiers on tanks and people sitting with guns on their laps, and you’re just standing there with a microphone and speaker telling jokes. They’re a genuinely grateful and ripping audience – that’s the kind of crowd I love!”

As for the meaning behind his latest show’s title, ‘The Family Lifeboat’, Lehmo’s performance humourously explores his theory that deep, down everyone has a numbered order of which family members, pets included, they would save in the event of a crisis.

“There is a big part of the show where I talk about the order of everyones household and this is where the concept
of The Family Lifeboat comes into it. My wife insists that she loves everyone equally, so if we were stuck in a lifeboat and it was sinking she wouldn’t know who to throw out first – Of course, I’d be the one thrown out first!” Lehmo jokes.

Lehmo – ‘The Family Lifeboat’, Enmore Theatre Sydney, 5-7 May.