Interview: Terry The Squirrel

The hottest show at this year’s Fringe is Sammy J In The Forest Of Dreams. It won the hearts and minds of Melbourne audiences at the 2008 Melbourne International Comedy Festival, before going on to huge success at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe. After the run at Melbourne Fringe (and the cultural mecca of Frankston), the company is planning to head back to the UK for a season in London.

While Sammy J In The Forest Of Dreams is ostensibly about a man named Sammy J and his new friend Farlo, there’s no doubt the show’s true star is Terry the Squirrel – there is no scene that Terry does not steal. The Outland Institute recently caught up with Terry for this surprisingly honest interview. (Warning: contains puppet swearing).

It’s impossible to convey Terry‘s personality through text alone, so I recommend you watch the interview by clicking the link below.

If, however, you are currently somewhere not conducive to watching long You Tube clips, here are selected highlights from the interview:

What’s Sammy J And the Forest Of Dreams about?

It’s about Sammy J, he’s just a normal guy living a bit of a boring life, he’s a bit jaded about life, and about a minute into the show he goes through a magical portal in his kitchen cupboard and ends up in the Forest Of Dreams. That’s where I live! He ends up in the forest and then goes through all sorts of wacky adventures, and has a bit of fun with the forest creatures, and sort of buggers the whole place up really.

And then he leaves.

That’s what happens in the show.

You’ve just come back from a highly successful run at the Edinburgh Fringe, how was that?

Edinburgh was awesome! I went to Edinburgh Castle, and I went to Arthur’s Seat, and I ate some haggis. Haggis is disgusting, it’s so awful. Do you know what haggis is? It’s where you take the heart and the liver and the lungs of a sheep and then you stuff it into it’s own stomach and then you boil it for three hours and then you eat it and then you die.

Was the audience reaction in Edinburgh different to that in Melbourne?

We were surprised because they were a little bit more conservative, the audiences. They didn’t like the swearing as much as the Australians. In Australia, when you say “fuck” people think it’s hilarious. But over there they thought it was a bit gratuitous or something – but we did it anyway! And eventually we got our target market – immature uni students just out for the poo jokes.

Do you have future plans beyond Sammy J And The Forest Of Dreams?

I’ve got lots of plans… I want to do my own show. Like it’s been great working with Sammy and the other puppets but they’re kind of a pain in the arse. You know? They’re a bit of a pain in the arse. I really want to have my own show. My own TV show, maybe? Some kind of afternoon, Saturday afternoon show where I talk about antiques, maybe… I like antiques… Or maybe I could do a show where I’m like a private detective and I have to go and bust doors down and get people and solve crimes and I have a wizard who’s my sidekick and the wizard has powers, and he can just blast the bad guys and I’ll be like “get him!’ and the wizard will be like “bshhhhhh” and the bad guy will be like “waaaaaaaaargh!”…. I might pitch it to some networks.

You came out of nowhere with this show – what were you doing before?

I wasn’t in a very good place. Personally. I was having a bit of a bad time. I was doing lots of drugs and stuff, and drinking too much, having a pretty wild time. I was pretty crazy when I was younger! Anyway, I was in a park near the Shrine, just near the eternal Flame, and I was actually singing that song… (Terry sings some of The BanglesEternal Flame). It was Anzac day so it was quite inappropriate.

Sammy J was walking and he saw me on the street and singing at the shrine and he joined in… (Terry sings some more)… and then he did that bit… (and more)… and we joined in together, and then he picked me up and took me home and he gave me a bath and sort of straightened up and said he was doing a show and there was a role in it for me. And the rest is history!

Sammy J In The Forest Of Dreams runs from October 4th – November 9th at the Lithuanian Club in North Melbourne, and November 12th – 16th at the Frankston Arts Centre. Bookings through www.easytix.com.au (Melbourne) and www.artscentre.frankston.vic.gov.au (Frankston).
Other Outland Institute articles you may enjoy:
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13 Responses to Interview: Terry The Squirrel

  1. Narrelle says:

    There ought to be awards for interviews, and you should win all of them.

  2. outlandinstitute says:

    Terry The Squirrel was a dream to interview – my favourite part is when he talks about the Terry dolls he wants to manufacture… Also, I should thank Stephen Hahn and everyone at Joy Melbourne for allowing us to use their studio.

    http://www.joy.org.au/

  3. Anne-Marie says:

    I think you should specialise in puppet interviews from this point on. Of course, shadow puppets are always a bit quiet , but – with a bit of work – you could work your way up to big bird.

    (and please I don’t want to see any snide comments from readers about fisting, or hands inside other people.)

  4. Louise says:

    You’re my hero.

    I think Terry and Sammy J’s friendship beginning is the most beautiful story ever told.

  5. Tim says:

    I heard a rumour that the interview ended when you asked Terry about his illegitimate child by a Hollywood starlet, whereupon he exploded into an obscene tirade, threw a bottle of Evian over you and stormed out. Care to comment?

  6. outlandinstitute says:

    No, that’s how the interview STARTED…

    This really is a great show, which I recommend highly if you haven’t seen it. Run! Don’t walk! Unless it’s too far! Then take a tram! Or another form of transport!

  7. “Some kind of show, an afternoon show where I talk about antiques…maybe.”
    Gold. Solid gold. Antiques Roadshow is due for a shake up…

  8. Anne-Marie says:

    I saw Terry in the fur on Saturday – the show is – as John has hinted – fucking grouse. review will be up soon – when I can find some adjectives better than fucking grouse.

  9. outlandinstitute says:

    It’s a bit too Margaret Pomeranz, isn’t it?

  10. Adam says:

    this is pretty funny as I actually do a hardcore/skramz show on JOY

  11. Anne-Marie says:

    one of my fav moments today was beng sent an email from the shows publicist – telling me to check out a certain interview with Terry!

    and oooo look – this interview was also referenced on this web page.

    http://www.aussietheatre.com/fringe08reviews.htm

  12. outlandinstitute says:

    Adam! You and Terry should team up!

  13. Adam C says:

    he’s welcome to guest on the show anytime

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