Michael Shafar is one of Melbourne’s funniest stand-up comedians and writer for Channel 10’s The Project.
Shafar is witty, a well-crafted performer who has put pen to paper to bring us his latest show 50/50 to ‘The Melbourne Comedy Festival’. Shafar who recently battled a testicular cancer diagnosis has managed to turn Cancer into Comedy in a show that you will find moving yet downright hilarious, the audience is encouraged to laugh out loud and kick cancer in the balls metaphorically speaking, after all, we all know someone who has battled the cancer demon.
Tell us a little about yourself and how you got into comedy?
“I’m a nice little Jewish boy who grew up on the mean streets of East St Kilda. I was meant to be a lawyer (and got qualified to appease my Jewish mum) but always loved comedy, so in my final year of studying law I went on exchange to Washington DC and started doing open mics every night of the week instead of studying. I got addicted to being on stage over there and just kept going with it”
Do you write all your own material?
“Yes! That’s pretty much the job”
How did you become involved in the Melbourne Comedy Festival?
“This is now my third time performing a solo show at the Melbourne Comedy Festival. Basically, I applied to perform in one of the festival’s venues, and they accepted me, so now I’m in”
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Do you love performing in your home town or is it more nerve-racking?
“It’s probably a little bit more nerve-racking than performing in other cities because there are usually a lot of people I know in the crowd (mostly friends of my parents who love coming along to my shows – I’ve found that my target audience seems to be my parents’ friends). But, to be honest, I’ve been performing for long enough now that I don’t get nervous anymore because I know that it’s always going to be a pretty good show”
What can we expect from your new show 50/50?
“It’s definitely a big change to my first two shows! This one is all about how I got testicular cancer in 2017 and pretty much goes through the experience of diagnosis, chemotherapy, surgery and having to do a sperm deposit at an IVF clinic while my girlfriend and mother waiting in the other room. True story”
I know this show was inspired by a recent cancer scare, why is it important for you to highlight this topic as part of the show?
“I just think it’s really important to talk about real things on stage. Pretty much everyone will either get cancer or have a loved one get cancer over the course of their lives, so talking about it on stage will (hopefully) demystify the experience for them and make it a little less confronting. I have so many people after shows come up and chat to me about their own experiences or send me messages afterwards, so it’s definitely a story that so many people can relate to”
Can we be guaranteed of a laugh?
“Yes! I know the show sounds heavy, but it’s pretty much an hour of punchy jokes. It’s not a TED Talk”
Who’s the funniest person you know?
“My dad, he thinks he’s funny, but for the wrong reasons. Every year on his and mum’s anniversary he’ll say: “37 years! You get less for murder! Ha-ha!” He thinks it’s the best joke, and I think it’s funny that he thinks it’s the best joke. I looked it up by the way, and it turns out the average sentence for murder is 12 years, so dad is just making a good point about the criminal justice system”