On the Couch with Jonathan Biggins

Jonathan Biggins AAR On the CouchWho is Jonathan Biggins?
I am an actor, writer and director but probably best known as a satirist and co-creator of The Wharf Revue. The Gospel According to Paul has been my break-out project, exploring personal creative differences and a potential line of skincare products.

What would you do differently from what you do now?
It’s a bit late for a career change – certainly to what I wanted to do as a young person; I don’t think you can start in naval architecture at my age. I’d like to know more about art history, less about modern politics and I’d like to be able to live without a mobile phone. I managed before, surely I can do it again.

Who inspires you and why?
At the moment, it’s the audiences who turn up to see shows. I’m very heartened when people want to get together and laugh collectively. Or sing collectively. Anything that reminds us that humans are social animals, not data points.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
The best thing most human beings could do for the world would be to leave it but I’m not keen to volunteer myself. Nor be on the selection panel. I’m not sure that anyone can change the world but it’s still better to light one feeble candle against the darkness. Still, if I had a magic wand I would rid the world of all religion – I’m sure no-one would miss it after a year or two.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
It’s really hard as a freelancer to embrace the idea of holiday, it has the faint whiff of unemployment. If you’re not working, you worry that you should be. Having said that, I’m a European at heart, just need to find a time when no-one else is visiting it.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
The Sydney Opera House. I have worked there many times over the years, in every venue within it, but I still get a buzz every time I approach it. It’s a soaring tribute to human creativity and ingenuity and proof that you can catch lightning in a bucket when a government ignores the doomsayers, goes out on a limb and says “Bugger it – let’s do it.”

What are you currently reading?
I like getting books from street libraries – a) because they’re free and b) because they don’t cost anything. I just read The Bee Sting by an Irish fellow, name escapes me, but it was very good.

What are you currently listening to?
I recently listened to a few Beatles albums all the way through for old time’s sake. Their creativity was extraordinary – no two songs sounded the same, they really covered the waterfront. A lot of modern artists are excellent but their creative vision is narrow; a different key every now and then would be a huge improvement.

Happiness is?
Not having to answer this question? Who knows? Happiness is frustrating because it’s usually enjoyed in hindsight, or fleetingly for no apparent reason like the proverbial column of smoke. But despite having a reputation for cynicism and a jaundiced world-view, I think I’m quite cheerful.

What does the future hold for you?
Even though my past now heavily outweighs my future, I’m looking forward to more of the same but different. The Wharf Revue will be finishing in 2025 after a quarter of a century – who knows what doors will open? Older, straight white male – in this industry the sky’s the limit!

Jonathan stars in The Gospel According to Paul – which will be presented in the Playhouse – Sydney Opera House from 4 – 23 June 2024. For more information, visit: www.sydneyoperahouse.com for details.

Image: Jonathan Biggins (supplied)