On the Couch with Stephen Hall

MICF-Stephen-Hall-Letters-From-My-HeroesWho is Stephen Hall?
That’s me – didn’t they tell you? Oh. Erm, this is awkward… Well, I’m a father and a husband, and an actor, writer and novelist. Oh, and I’m also another 27 people in my new Comedy Festival show, Letters From My Heroes.

What would you do differently from what you do now?
I think I’d have forced myself to be more confident when I was younger. Shyness can be charming, but it can also be crippling. When you back yourself – really back yourself – in bold endeavours… sometimes they pay off! And even when they don’t, at least you had a crack and learned from the experience. “Fortune Favours the Bold” is a lesson I wish I’d really learned, and acted on, earlier in life.

Who inspires you and why?
Anyone who turns the other cheek. Anyone who’s curious, kind and thoughtful. And anyone who listens – really, actively listens – more than they talk.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
I think I’d make Kindness and Empathy compulsory subjects in every school. Teaching these basic human qualities is often neglected or overlooked, and I can’t help but think if we were all taught how to walk in another’s shoes, how to see things from another’s point of view, then the world would look vastly different from the way it does today.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
I really liked Rome – such an exciting, bustling, exotic city. I was there by myself with just a phrasebook to guide me, and it was fascinating, stimulating… and the HISTORY! 2000-year-old buildings right on your doorstep! The first time I saw the Colosseum, I gasped. A cliched reaction I know, but I actually did.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
It’s a little bit of a drive, but I think it’s hard to go past the Penguin Parade at Phillip Island. It’s unique, it’s natural, it’s a really well-run tourist attraction… and they’re so darn cute.

What are you currently reading?
The Master and His Emissary by Iain McGilchrist. It’s a really interesting examination of the two hemispheres of the human brain, and how their development has influenced the history of Western civilisation. I’m also listening to Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens as an audiobook. Just for a bit of light relief, you know.

What are you currently listening to?
Depeche Mode’s new album Memento Mori. I’ve also been revisiting the Dolphin Brothers’ one and only album Catch The Fall (1987). Eh, I’m a child of the eighties – what do you want from me?

Happiness is?
Catching up with old friends. There’s nothing quite like it; shared histories, misadventures and in-jokes. You can always make new friends, but you can’t make old friends. Working hard on something that you love and are really excited about (such as Letters From My Heroes … if they’d actually bothered to write back, now playing as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival at ACMI.) And of course any time spent with my wife and daughter.

What does the future hold for you?
Personally; hopefully good health and happiness for my family. Professionally, I’m writing my first play; it’s a whodunnit (with gags) and I’m really excited about it! I’m also writing the first draft of the sequel to my 2020 sci-fi novel Symphony Under Siege, continuing my blog www.HowToWinGameShows.com, and podcast The Funny Thing Is…  And who knows what else? There are always more things to create.

Stephen presents the premiere season of his show, Letters From My Heroes – which is currently playing at ACMI (Swinburne Studio), Fed Square, as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, until 23 April 2023. For more information, visit: www.comedyfestival.com.au for details.

Image: Stephen Hall (supplied)