Long-time buddies who enjoy a good laugh

Tim Shadbolt and Gary McCormick are set to bring their combined brand of comedy to Timaru in August. The Courier had some questions for them . . .

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Tim Shadbolt

What’s the connection with you guys, how and when did you both meet and in what circumstances?
Tim
to details but the ’60s were a time of cultural exploration, drama, fringe films, surfing, protesting, making music and if you got lucky, making love, and we both were involved in this explosion of youthful and cultural events.
Gary
We were both involved in the protest movement, the Vietnam War, then the Springbok tour.
Tim was the leader in many incidents and I didn’t know him in the early days.
I met him in Wellington around the time then PM Robert Muldoon arrested people in a Maori tent embassy which had been erected on Parliament grounds.
I was arrested there.

At what points do you guys meet (obviously) on the same wavelengths? I mean, you guys obviously have a lot in common, and what are some of things you share in common and why?
Tim
We like to think we are fair dinkum, grass roots, heartland, blokes in sheds and are appreciated by senior citizens and post-war baby boomers like ourselves.
Gary
We both love communicating and public speaking. We share a similar sense of humour and [we’re] especially fond of Kiwi yarns.
We have travelled and worked with a lot of entertainers and leaders ranging from the late David Lange to rock musicians like Dave Dobbyn, the Hello Sailor boys and Dragon.
I love to tour around New Zealand, particularly the smaller towns.

What are some of the things you guys clash on?
Tim
I love describing Gary as a bureaucrat and an icon of senior management. He loathes the description so I use it as often as possible.
Gary
I notice that Tim has a very clever way of deferring to me describing me as “management” whenever the going gets rough and uncomfortable decisions have to be made.
We have had instances when we’ve been offered public toilets as dressing rooms.

How and when did the live show come about? What are some of the themes you guys have explored over the years?
Tim
Now there’s the perfect answer to the previous question. Gary organised everything and I’m just a humble council worker.
Gary
We started out doing a series of town hall debates I organised back in the ’70s.
Our ongoing theme is “life in NZ”. The stories evolve as new issues and yarns come up.

What do you know about Timaru and the wider South Canterbury area? Have you any specific memories and/or had quirky experiences here?
Tim
I’ve also performed in Timaru on many occasions and haven’t come out of it all that well. The cheese roll competition with your present Mayor Damon Odey was a disaster.
Gary
I’ve been to Timaru many times mostly as support act with bands. The Hydro Grand was a second home. It was a great town for crowds for music. Tough, but fair!

What can Timaru audiences expect from your upcoming show?
Tim
I like to give the audience areal insight into the numerous stuff-ups I’ve been involved in as a mayor for the last 30 years. There is nothing people seem to enjoy more than a good Kiwi train wreck.
Gary
Lots of laughs. It’s a “feel-good” show. People will go home happy and glad to be Kiwis.

What are some of the key things you guys have learned from your extensive experience in public life?
Tim
I’ve learnt that Murphy’s Law is often reality and that Yes Minister should be a documentary and not a comedy show.
Gary
You’ve got to have a sense of humour! And you’ve got to be pretty resilient. Public life is demanding, regardless of the level at which you are operating.

What advice would you have for young people, who perhaps might be considering following your paths into public life?
Tim
Don’t become the Mayor of Invercargill because that’s my job.
Gary
If you want to do it, go for broke! If it matters to you, you’ve got nothing to lose.

Anything else you wish to mention?
Tim
Our favourite part of the show is question time. So if you have personal problems we’re ready to give you the best advice possible.
Gary
I’m looking forward very much to another rollicking night in Timaru.