On the Couch with Harrison Greenbaum

Harrison Greenbaum Arts Review On the CouchWho is Harrison Greenbaum?
I’m a comedian and magician from New York. Currently the host of The Unbelievables at the Sydney Opera House (and coming soon to Arts Centre Melbourne and Crown Theatre Perth).

What would you do differently to what you do now?
I’m so lucky to be able to do what I love for a living, so I wouldn’t change much. Actually, I wore really baggy jeans and had gold highlights in my hair in high school, so maybe I would skip that boy band phase?

Who inspires you and why?
I’m endlessly inspired by the cast, crew, and creative team who make this current show possible. Everyone is so incredible at what they do here! I’m also in awe of my parents and my sister, who have been unbelievably supportive of me. I mean, I graduated from Harvard and then decided to become a comedian – and they still haven’t killed me yet. So I owe them a lot!

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
It might sound a bit trite, but I really did get into comedy in order to bring laughter and happiness to as many people as possible. It’s a really rewarding job and one that I sincerely hope makes a positive difference. I also volunteer every year as a counselor at Tannen’s Magic Camp, where I was a camper as a kid, and try to pay it forward with the next generation of magicians. Also, recycling? I do that sometimes?

Favourite holiday destination and why?
I rarely get a vacation, but then again, I love my job, so I don’t really need to! I’m a big fan of beaches, so anything with sand and an ocean is paradise for me. Not a huge drinker, but I’m still a sucker for any drink that comes with a tiny umbrella. It’s like the bartender is trying to protect you from a teeny tiny rainstorm!

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
I’m from New York, but if they’re visiting me in Sydney, then I would want them to check out our show at the Opera House! (Shameless plug! See our show!) If they were visiting me in New York, I’d tour friends around based on food: hot dogs from Nathan’s in Coney Island, pizza from Di Fara’s in Brooklyn, falafel from Mamoun’s in the East Village, an everything bagel with cream cheese and lox from nearly anywhere… it’s a lot of walking from place to place in New York, so hopefully that compensates for all the calories.  Hopefully.

What are you currently reading?
I grabbed a copy of The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis in the airport on the way here, and really digging what I’ve read so far. I was a psychology major in college (Harvard) (I think I’m obligated to say that at least twice an interview?) (I’m sorry) so love reading about how the brain functions. Then again, I got it right before two back-to-back 14 hours flights, so I would’ve been willing to read or watch almost anything.  (It’s how I came to watch Boss Baby: you know you’ve been on a plane too long when you start tearing up during a movie featuring Alec Baldwin as the voice of a baby.)

What are you currently listening to?
I’m a musical theater nerd, so I still have Hamilton in my rotation, along with Dear Evan Hansen, RENT, anything Sondheim, and all the Broadway hits and classics. Basically everything but Cats. I’m allergic to the animal and the show.

Happiness is?
A Tim-Tam after a standing ovation at the Opera House. Seriously, how have these cookies not made it to the United States yet? They’re the BEST! Eating a Tim-Tam is like hugging a baby koala on top of a kangaroo on top of the Harbor Bridge – it’s the greatest! (Arnott’s, are you reading this?  Does this get me any free Tim-Tams?)

What does the future hold for you?
The Unbelievables is touring throughout Australia and then hopefully the rest of the world, so really excited about getting to host such an amazing production with such a stellar cast and crew!

The Unbelievables is currently playing the Concert Hall – Sydney Opera House until 29 December 2017, before playing Hamer Hall – Arts Centre Melbourne: 3 – 13 January, and Crown Theatre Perth: 18 – 28 January 2018.

Image: Harrison Greenbaum (supplied)