Luke Heggie is a man stuck between two worlds. By day, he's a labourer, working on building sites around Sydney. By night, he's a stand-up comedian, performing on stages around Australia. Strangely enough, these roles go hand-in-hand.
"I'm a labourer to the pay the bills because comedy doesn't cut it," said Heggie. "A lot of comedians just sit around all day, thinking, and spending too much time in their heads, so it's nice to have something to do that has nothing to do with comedy.
"As a general rule, comedians are very weak, so there aren't many who [labour] if they have to work, because it's quite physically demanding on you."
Turning blue laughs into gold
Speaking from Launceston, where Heggie has been performing his new show, Have That, the comedian has found a way to leverage the unique vantage point his physically demanding day job offers to do some of the heavy lifting in his show.
"I actually don't mind labouring because I draw a lot of material from it," said Heggie. "I think most people would find blue collar workers way funnier than comedians - the funniest stuff gets said on building sites - they [workers] just never have what it takes to get on a stage and do it.
"It may not necessarily be politically correct or modern, but you can draw off that and edit it a bit and away you go."
"I spend a lot of time thinking about how I'm going to write something if I think it's going to touch some issues, like gender roles or sexism. It can be very funny if done well, but you have to make sure your writing is very sharp and you have to be inclusive of the whole audience while skirting around the edges of stereotypes."
The changing face of comedy
With growing social movements around the globe impacting the entertainment industry with continued regularity, comedians like Heggie now have the opportunity to subvert material previously considered sexist and reinvent it for a modern audience.
"[Gender roles in] comedy has come such a long way in the last 30 to 40 years," said Heggie. "From jokes like, 'my wife is such a nag', to now more accessible ways of putting the man in the shit and saying, 'this is what happens in relationships'. It's a fine line, but that's my favourite type of comedy."
A common element of Heggie's shows is to use his marriage and family to explore concepts in such a way; by taking his observations of male behaviour and applying the same logic to his own relationship with his wife, usually with unexpected and humorous outcomes.
"When you're right on the edge and you get it right, people know where it's coming from and your intentions," said Heggie.
Funny is funny
While reluctant to acknowledge his knack for turning observational comedy into a tool for social change, Heggie is aware that what he does, and, indeed, the world of comedy as a whole, can impact society.
"[My show] is just yet another hour of me talking about dickheads in society," said Heggie. I'm not trying to influence anyone, just make some jokes about stuff I've observed in the last 12 months. I wouldn't go so far as to say it's informed, but it is well-written.
"I think anyone who's going to have their mind changed by a comedian is a bit too open to change. Sure, there are some bits by persuasive comedians who go viral and everyone listens, but I don't think many people are changing political or social views based on a couple of jokes."
"I don't have the ego to think I can change minds. If I want to talk about my role in my family, it's a good way to do it. I don't intentionally go out to give lessons; I just want to make people laugh."
After the Melbourne International Comedy Festival wraps up, Heggie's national tour of Have That continues onto Perth and Sydney.