Five Minutes with ... Jonathan Biggins

Writer and star of The Gospel According To Paul

Jonathan Biggins is many things including actor, singer, writer, comedian and director. But onstage in The Gospel According to Paul he’s pure PJK – wit, intellect and ego. It’s like he’s inhaled his essence.

If you sat with him for long enough you would probably forget that Biggins is not actually Paul Keating. But we’ve only got 5 minutes...

DESCRIBE YOUR VERSION OF PARADISE?

My family has a shack by the Allyn River in the Hunter Valley, NSW, just on the edge of a state forest park. Paradise is the swimming hole, sitting on the rock looking back up the river. But like all paradises, it’s hard to find the time to go there.

WHAT DO YOU THINK PJK MIGHT SAY IF WE ASKED HIM THE SAME QUESTION?

Paradise cannot exist for PJK because he knows there is no such thing as perfection. But I’m sure a close second would be living in Paris in that sweet spot of history between Robespierre and Napoleon; all the intellectual stimulation of the Enlightenment but with paracetamol, antibiotics and decent dentistry.

WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU REMEMBER THAT MADE YOU LAUGH?

I have trouble remembering what happened yesterday but I daresay it was something that makes every child laugh – watching a sibling falling over or getting into trouble.

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO PAUL IS VERY POPULAR WITH AUDIENCES. WHAT DO YOU THINK IS REALLY LANDING FOR THEM?

Even to those who opposed his politics at the time, Paul Keating represents two things that are conspicuously absent today: leadership and vision. It’s not nostalgia, more a despairing recognition of what we’ve lost in our political discourse. Balanced by the fact that he’s very funny.

PARADISE IS OFTEN DESCRIBED AS AN ABSENCE OF THINGS. WHAT THREE THINGS WOULD YOU REMOVE FROM THE WORLD TO MAKE IT MORE LIKE PARADISE?

One: awful to say it – and I don’t know how you’d begin to choose – but three quarters of the human population. Not because they’re unpleasant, there’s just too many of us. Two: social media, greatest threat to democracy yet devised. Three: lists.

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