Based Comedy Interview with Josh Armstrong

Based Comedy owner Josh Armstrong started running stand-up gigs on the Gold Coast in 2014. Since then, the shows have grown into iconic weekly events, supporting local and international comedy acts that keep the Gold Coast audiences in stitches. We had a chat with Josh about how he started Based Comedy, what he was doing before he stepped foot into the comedy scene and all about the launch of the Gold Coast’s very first Comedy Festival: GC Laughs Fest.

AF: When did your love for stand-up comedy first begin?
BC: When I was 8 or 9 I used to listen to this talkback show on an alternative radio station (Channel Z) in New Zealand called “Talkback with Bomber”. Every Sunday night from 9pm, and I would go into school the next day absolutely wrecked. He’d play Bill Hicks sometimes, and when I was about 12 years old I was downloading full standup albums on Napster and Limewire.

AF: How did you feel doing your first stand-up gig? Did you have a decent crowd?
BC: The first gig I did was at a place called The Loft on Chevron Island. I did the most offensive jokes I had come up with at the time and it went fine. Surely my sensibilities have matured by now, but I don’t perform anymore so I don’t have to think about it too much. Although my first gig may have been the Rotary Speech Club competition I won when I was 13 about George Bush. If I could find the cue cards for that, I reckon it’s funnier than anything I’ve written in my notes since 2014.

AF: What were you doing before you started Based Comedy?
BC: In New Zealand I was a breakfast radio host for a couple of years, I’ve worked in digital marketing and I used to haul bags of potatoes from a truck into fish and chip shops in Christchurch.

AF: What was the process you went through to build your comedy business?
BC: Based Comedy has grown pretty organically, the first proper weekly show we started running on Thursday Nights at the Dog & Parrot Tavern in Robina went from strength to strength – the Gold Coast didn’t have a lot of comedy happening and there was clearly an audience for it. We just started expanding until we got to the point we could think about things like the GC Laughs Festival, touring international acts and all the other fun bits and pieces we are getting our feet into.

AF: Did you ever think the Based Comedy nights would be as successful as they are today?
BC: I just wanted to do a couple of open mics and now I’m a small business owner.

AF: How do you think the comedy scene on the Gold Coast fairs against other main cities in Australia?

BC: Queensland in general cops a lot of flak as being rough for comics, but I think the crowds are pretty honest – they laugh when it’s funny and that’s pretty much all they care about. 

Greg Larson performing at The Avenue, Surfers Paradise in 2017

Greg Larson performing at The Avenue, Surfers Paradise in 2017

AF: What's the most difficult thing you've experienced running your own comedy shows?
BC: Mostly just hecklers. They’re my least favourite thing. We’ve had the audience turn on each other for being racist, some guy fell over once, smashed his head open and start bleeding. It’s usually pretty tame though.

AF: If someone out there is thinking of doing stand-up, what advice would you give them before they perform their material in front of a crowd?
BC: Go sit in on some open mics, watch what works, start out with clean jokes until you know how to push the envelope without wrecking a room and turning the audience against you.

AF: What do you look for when you select new comedians for shows? Do they need to do a live audition?
BC: Usually recommendations from other comics that we work with.

AF: Do you ever put on comedians who have little to no stage experience?
BC: We don’t run any open mics at the moment, so not currently.

AF: Who are some local, up-and-coming stand up acts you can see having a successful future in comedy?
BC: Dalton Whiskey is a tomato-faced comedian from the Gold Coast who is excellent. Kelvin and Jonny Haselam also live on the Coast and are very talented.

AF: You recently finished touring with the boys from the Cumtown Podcast, what was the most significant moment of the tour?
BC: Haha, tours are a lot less interesting unless something is going horribly wrong. Fortunately nothing went wrong – but we did go to Stalactites in Melbourne that was pretty tasty.

Cumtown Tour at Heya Bar, Brisbane in 2018.

Cumtown Tour at Heya Bar, Brisbane in 2018.

AF: What can you tell us about your recently announced Gold Coast Laughs Festival?
BC: We’ve got some massive acts, Ross Noble, Arj Barker, Daniel Sloss, Fiona O’Loughlin, Joel Creasey – so many people who I love and so many I have been looking forward to working with for years. It’s going to be massive.

AF: Which act are you most excited about for this Festival?
BC: Daniel Sloss is going to be great, I’m also excited to see Helen Bidou (Anne Edmonds) who I didn’t get to see last year’s festival run, and the Gala with Sammy J & Randy hosting is going to be incredible.

AF: Do you think the Gold Coast is starting to improve its cultural scene?
BC: Certainly. I only moved here in 2013 but I’ve seen so many great changes and steps in the right direction. Just look at Marketta, what the people in Southport are doing, the restaurants, cafes, bars – it’s a very cool time to be involved in the Gold Coast cultural scene.

AF: How do you think Australian comics are perceived next to British and USA comics?
BC: There seems to be a pretty even influence from the USA and UK, so most comics in Australia are able to work in both places and have their material translate well. A lot of Australian acts are doing shows at the SoHo Theatre in London and doing quite well, guys like Nick Cody have gotten themselves spots on Conan – Australian comics are definitely well-liked. 

AF: Who are your top 3 favourite comedians, alive or dead?

BC: Stewart Lee is my number one. I have a thousand number twos.

AF: What do you see for the future of comedy on the Gold Coast?

BC: We’re looking forward to making the GC Laughs Festival a really significant cultural event on the Gold Coast calendar every year, maybe a dedicated club, and hopefully more people coming out to enjoy live comedy in the city.

AF: Should people contact you if they think they're funny enough to do stand-up?

BC: No. 

AF: Which comedy shows are coming up that people should head along to?
BC: Get tickets to the GC Laughs Festival at! Our weekly shows can be found at as well. 

The first ever Gold Coast Laughs Festival kicks off March 17. If you’re on the Gold Coast and want to prevent getting FOMO, secure your tickets here.