Bondi View

Stepping up to the mic

Dive in, stand up: Dan Ilic stars in SBS2's Stand Up @ Bella Union. Photo: Chris Peken

By Shami Sivasubramanian

Bondi boy Dan Ilic, best known from Radio National’s A Rational Fear, is set to feature in SBS2’s upcoming comedy show, Stand Up @ Bella Union.

Having lived in Bondi for the past two years, Ilic’s latest venture will lead him southward, to Melbourne.

Set in the historic Bella Union Trades Hall, each episode within the ten-part series features stand-up from three comedians discussing race, social inclusion, and politics, spliced with backstage interviews conducted by Chaser’s Chas Liccardello. The show hopes to reveal more about each comic, their life, and their inspiration.

“It’s a hall steeped in activism and progressive comedy,” Ilic said.

“Over the course of the years, people have fought for many things, mostly being paid better. But the cool thing is the Bella Union is a beautiful old theatre space in this elegant Victorian building. During the Melbourne Comedy Festival it becomes a sort of alternative hub to the main comedy scene down at the Town Hall. It feels like home performing there.”

Yet, the self-confessed Investigative Humourist initially passed on the offer to perform in the line up.

“Like, I’m not really a stand-up. I’m a sketch comedian. A filmmaker. A journalist.”

But it was the involvement of unknown talent and friends he admired that eventually that swayed his decision.

“Chas was doing it. And I’m friends with Chas. Some of the best comedians in Australia who are unknown are doing it. And that was really cool for me. I was very honoured, privileged to be asked to do it.”

According to Ilic, Liccardello took his role as interviewer very seriously. His research was thorough and his questioning delved deep.

“When you sit down in front of Chas, be prepared for anything. Chas is a student of psychology. A student of the human condition. He’s very much like Andrew Denton in that regard.”

Backstage may have been intense, but onstage, the comics pushed on equally poignant issues.

“I talk about my dad being disabled. I talk about growing up with a Serbian last name during the time of the Yugoslav Civil War. I talk about doing stand-up in Afghanistan. I talk about some tough things.”

It is difficult to imagine these topics in a laughable context. Yet Ilic explains his background as a satirist with A Rational Fear has taught him well.

“In the Rational Fear office, we have arguments over the tiniest things whether to include a certain word. Or whether to attack a certain topic. So it’s kind of like we stress out a lot about if we’re doing the right thing. And I think that’s a good sign.”

Stand Up @ Bella Union premieres Sunday March 9 at 9pm on SBS2.

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