Brian Nankervis - “It’s been one of the great joys of my life and I’m really proud of it.“By Kimberley Price
Always bringing the laughs to the Riverboats Music Festival is the outrageous yet charismatic Brian Nankervis.
Let’s be honest, there’s not many places he can go without bringing a smile to those around him.
For the fifth year, Nankervis will welcome and guide you through, the weekend festival. Promising to bring along his trusty Frisbee and stacks of music trivia, the comedian, writer and producer is looking forward to one of his favourite events.
For those who aren’t familiar with Brian Nankervis, his career has spanned more than 30 years. From starring in television series, becoming a regular on Hey, Hey It’s Saturday and co-creating RockWiz, the 63 year old is a veteran of the Australian entertainment industry. Yet, the path of arts was not one he initially followed.
“I came from a very conservative background, a very quiet, gentle and conservative home life where art, music, theatre and literature were not a big part of our house,” he said.
“So I think, in a way I yearned for it.
“I fell in love with The Rolling Stones and everything they represented was completely different from my home life.
“I sort of always had this feeling that it would be great to perform. But I never thought I could do it. It sort of happened in a way without me realising it.”
In his first career, Nankervis was a teacher in Melbourne, a job which gave him some of his most difficult audiences to please.
“I think having spent six years as a teacher I learnt to perform in front of an audience, the basics of holding a room full of faces and I enjoyed the performance side of being a teacher.
“I’d always been interested in radio. I’d done shows at 3RRR, while I was teaching and loved it but it was all voluntary.
“I decided to have a break from teaching to try and get paid work in radio. It quickly became very clear to me that was going to be very hard.
“So I ended up working as a waiter at a theatre restaurant in Melbourne called The Last Laugh which was a sort of breeding ground for comedians.
“I was invited to be a part of an improvised soap-opera weekly show called Let the Blood Run Free. I kept waiting for them to say; ‘Look we’re going to get a real actor or a real stand-up comedian now,’ but they didn’t and I kept doing it.
“I started developing this character who was a poet, Raymond J. Bartholomeuz. Someone saw me one night and said I should do it on Hey, Hey It’s Saturday. And in 1986 I did, and I won Red Faces by refusing to accept the gong.
“Then I became a regular – that meant I was in about a million lounge rooms a week. I started doing stand up and that was about 32 years ago and I never went back to teaching.”
Nankervis’ career is one which is exceptionally varied. From dipping his toes in writing, producing, acting, comedy and theatre, in the realms of the arts, there’s not many areas he hasn’t excelled in.
One particular success of the one-man Nankervis band has been RockWiz; the music trivia show which has run more than a decade on SBS.
“I love the variety.
“It’s hard sometimes moving from one area, or one audience or one style, it’s very challenging and I think it keeps me match fit.
“I never dreamed we’d still be doing Rockwiz 14 years later.
“I think we have always championed the veteran performers but we’ve also championed the up and comers and I think that’s been a reason for its success.
“We came up with the original structure - the two artists coming out, the questions, the audience members and the duet at the end - in 2003 and we’ve really stuck to it, that’s been solid the whole way, it’s been incredible.
“It’s been one of the great joys of my life and I’m really proud of it.
“Unfortunately they’ve said they’re not recommissioning us, which is devastating, but we’ll continue to tour and we’ve got a whole run of shows lined up for this year.”
But if there’s one thing that defines Brian Nankervis, it’s his love of music.
As an avid fan and supporter of the classics and the newcomers to the scene, Nankervis knows everything that needs to be known about music, artists and their songs.
He brings this knowledge, his infectious laugh, hilarious and witty jokes and that voice to Riverboats once again.
“Get there at the start and leave at the end – it’s that simple,” he said.
“It’s a really, really incredible festival. With one stage, a lot of people really like that there’s no moving from stage to stage. It’s really well curated. The setting is remarkable with the big rivergums, the river nearby and the incredible lush green grass.
“Over the years I really think the line-ups have always been incredible.
“Get there early, I’ll be there to greet you at the gate.
“I’ll bring you in, I’ll settle you on your rug, we’ll have some quizzes, there will be some Frisbee throwing, bring a hat, plenty of sunscreen and get set for a great time.”
Let The Blood Run Free 02
The Rolling Stone - (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction (Official Lyric Video)
Written by: Mick Jagger and Keith Richards
Best of 88 (Part 1) Raymond J. Bartholomeuz
Rockwiz – Series 1, Episode 1
Interviewed by: Kimberley Price.
Voice: Vivienne Duck.
Produced by: Kimberley Price and Vivienne Duck.
A Riverine Herald production.