Sammy J (Sam McMillan) is a Melbourne-based satirist, musical comedian and writer.
Taking a break from his partnership with the infamous Randy, Sammy appears weekly on the ABC with his hit sketches: The Government Coach, National Yoga, and Playground Politics.
In between coaching The Blueshirts (the Coalition) to victory—or their impending defeat—as the Government Coach, and circumnavigating the globe in a replica of James Cook’s HMS Endeavour, Sammy J found a not so quiet corner of ABC’s Melbourne office to have a chat with Grok Magazine.
Leading up to the election, Sammy J was busy channelling The Government Coach. The ABC was given exclusive nightly coverage, as the Coach prepared his team, The Blue Shirts, for the fight of their life.
The Government Coach started as a forty-second sketch on a show that Sammy J did two years ago, “People responded really well,” he says, “and I’m not above chasing the audience so we just kept on doing it.”
Although he has three different characters, the Coach is his current favourite.
“[It’s] very fun. Partly because it feels like revenge on all the footy jocks I went to school with—I’m being paid to mock them.”
When I asked whether his old pal Randy had been ditched for his new characters, Sammy explained that Randy is his own person. “We allow each other to take other lovers and audiences,” he says.
Image Source: The Brag
As The Government Coach, Sammy works closely with the “Coalition”, however, his Playground Politics and National Yoga characters generally poke fun at our nations’ leaders. While it’s not good for the country when our politicians make fools of themselves, Sammy admits to giving a cheeky fist pump every time Barnaby Joyce does something stupid. He must be doing a lot of fist pumping.
Mid-way through our conversation he pauses, as an announcement comes over the speakers at the ABC. “Oh, this is news as it happens,” he says excitedly, “Maybe I’m about to be fired.”
Luckily, it’s just a false alarm. My cheeks, on the other hand, are about to explode from a repetitive stress injury.
Sammy shares that he often gets more excited when there’s no news because it challenges him to make something funny out of something mind-numbing, like franking credits.
Suddenly, an alarm begins to blare through the phone.
“Ah, that’s the ABC satire alarm,” he says calmly, “it goes off when someone has just done some sweet, sweet satire.”
A different alarm begins to whir. “That’s the alarm for when Grok is dropping truth bombs, and leftie activism is going to print” he adds.
Back on the subject of The Government Coach, in the lead up to the election, ABC will be bringing us exclusive nightly coverage as the Coach prepares his team for their big election match.
Image Source: ABC iView
“I want to keep mixing it up, so that it’s interesting or it’s risky,” he says, “it won’t always work, but when it does hopefully it’ll be worth it.”
He asks if I can hear the fear in his voice.
While talking about risky business, in 2016, Sammy travelled around the nation to lick each state’s parliament house. Yes, you heard me right. He had dubbed it, ‘The Taste of Democracy’.
Apparently, ours tastes like vegemite, but that probably had more to do with the fact that Sammy put it there. After posting the video, however, someone pointed out that he’d put it on the arch, not the front, so he’d approached it from the wrong side.
“I freaked out because the vegemite had stained the beautiful sandstone column,” he shared, “and I was worried I was going to get done for defacing a public building.”
On a more serious note, we discussed young people—especially students—engaging with politics and voting properly.
“I’m probably not equipped to answer as a comedian,” he says, “but as a citizen, I think it’s important because there are people in other countries that literally die for the right to vote. The fact that we have compulsory voting, which some people whinge about, is pretty special. It [politics] affects your life directly, and it will continue to do so in the future, so the more engagement the better.”
Sammy is set to return to Perth later this year, however, the vegemite will likely be staying at home. When asked what we can expect, he lists a Play School concert for (big) kids, interactive yoga, and some motivational coaching—with a dark twist on the side.
“I’m excited about how to stitch all these elements together, especially when I’m off stage,” he says. “Maybe it’ll involve an audience member doing something for me, or more likely it’ll involve onstage nudity. These are questions yet to be answered.”
And with that final comment, I bid him adieu.
ABC’s special pre-election coverage of the Coach’s ‘Countdown to Glory’ is available on ABC iView.
Sammy J will be at the Regal Theatre in Subiaco on 13 July 2019, for tickets visit Ticketek.