Three Minute Squiz… with Sammy J

Sam McMillan (you’ll probably know him as Sammy J) is a comedian, satirist, writer and broadcaster. And much to our delight, he’s a committed Squizer. A mainstay on the Aussie comedy scene for almost a decade, Sam has performed at the big festivals in Edinburgh and Montreal, and had TV hit, Sammy J & Randy in Ricketts Lane with his purple puppet mate. His current ABC Comedy series, simply titled Sammy J, was nominated for a 2019 AACTA award. Please welcome him to the Three Minute Squiz.

How and where do you Squiz?
Dead-eyed and hunched sullenly over the kitchen bench, stoically ignoring my children’s pleas for breakfast.

It must take a lot of guts to make it in comedy. Are you a confident person?
Like most performers I oscillate between extreme confidence and crippling self-doubt. I’ve certainly grown more confident in my ability to do my job, but that’s been a long journey. I’m forever grateful that I started out in comedy when I was 19yo, so although my material was pretty awful, I lacked the self-awareness to stop.

Is your comedy side always on or is it a process for you to get into the ‘Sammy J’ character?
Well, over the years ‘Sammy J’ has served as a nickname, a stage name, and a fictional character name, which has really confused the Tax Office. These days it’s pretty much just me, so there’s no transition required. That said, it’s nice to know that if someone comes after me for defamation, I can claim it was just the character ‘Sammy J’ saying those awful things.

Your current series Sammy J makes some astute (and hilarious) observations about topical national and world events. Are you a news hound?
I do love my news, with an emphasis on Aussie politics, and that goes back to my school days. I worked as a scrutineer in the 1999 republic referendum, which was not a normal thing for a 16yo to be doing on a Saturday night, but something about the democratic process excited me. So the interest was always there, and in the last few years I’ve been lucky enough to combine my two passions – comedy and politics – thanks to the ABC spots. Although I do worry it’s forging unhealthy neural pathways in my brain, since I tend to look at every news event now through the prism of “how can we make this funny?”

Kudos to you on your yoga abilities… Can you see a portfolio of current affairs-based yoga studios in your future?
Ha! Given the tumultuous decade we’ve experienced, there’d be no shortage of citizens or ex-leaders needing a safe space to unwind. I might add this to my list of fallback options, right next to Play School host and low-level drug baron.

What would you be doing if comedy hadn’t worked out for you?
Trying to convince prospective employers that the disappointing grades in my Media & Communications degree were an administrative error.

Name four people – living or dead – you’d kill to sit down to dinner with.
Gough Whitlam, Malcolm Fraser, John Kerr, and Claire Foy.

Your favourite book/writer?
Ben Pobjie’s Error Australis* – a comedic frolic through modern Australian history – hit me right in the sweet spot.

The best piece of advice your mother/father/good friend gave you?
Stop worrying and go to bed, things always seem worse at night time.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

What’s your worst and best habit?
Best habit: I’m exceptionally diligent when it comes to digital file storage and management. I have my entire life chronicled, backed up and easily retrievable at all times.

Worst habit: my digital file management is without doubt an elaborate procrastination tool. I can happily miss a deadline because I’m too busy digitising a VHS tape of a high school production that nobody will ever watch.

What would you say is the most currently overlooked news story Australians should know about but don’t?
The Squiz is actually owned and operated by a secretive arm of the Russian Government, which aims to bring down our democracy through snappy and informative daily news digests. You’ve all been warned.

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