Frequent flyer: Tom Gleeson

This stand-up comedian has performed from Edinburgh to Iraq and wars in between.

Q What was your first international trip?

A My family went to Port Moresby when I was two. I didn't go overseas again until I was 25, when I went to Bali. I took up smoking because it was so cheap over there.

Q Where did you first travel to for work?

A I was performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and went to London on the way. Everything reminded me of Sydney. Then I realised that was because Sydney is based on London. It was like discovering the Beatles after being a fan of the Monkees.

Q What do you like to do when you're overseas?

A I like to enter comedy competitions. In a strange city, no one knows you and you can wipe the floor with everyone because you've had much more experience. I went to one in New York that was really bizarre. The only people who turned up were me and the five other losers who'd entered and, because everyone wanted to win, noone would laugh at anything anyone else said.

Q Where's the most bizarre location in which you've performed?

A I performed for Australian troops in Afghanistan, Iraq and three other countries I'm not allowed to mention. They're a great audience, because they're so starved for entertainment.


Q Did you get an insight into how the troops live?

A The conditions are different in every place. In some places, the troops are in small plywood dormitories and in one part of Iraq, they're staying in one of Saddam Hussein's old guest palaces. They're still crammed in but they're surrounded by lots of marble and chandeliers.

Q Did you bring back any souvenirs from Iraq?

A I have some smashed marble from one of Saddam Hussein's palaces and a nude calendar featuring some members of the army. I've also got a deck of cards of Iraq's most wanted, with Saddam Hussein as the ace of spades.

Playing Poker With The SAS by Tom Gleeson is published by New South ($29.95).

Interview by Ute Junker