Many Stages of Stage Life

ACT Writers Centre questions former Canberran Sam Marzden about being an unappreciated rock genius finding his feet in stand-up comedy 

ACT Writers Centre: What inspired you to become a writer and performer of stand up comedy?

Sam Marzden: I spent about 5 years working as a professional pot plant water (Yes, that’s a job. Oi you!) and when I looked back on my ‘career’ I realised, ‘Wow! I have learned no skills whatsoever to help me further in life’. However, during the job, I listened to hundreds of audiobooks, so I knew a lot about novels. So, I figured I could justify wasting those 5 years by writing my own book – that way I’d have something to show for it. How hard could it be? I decided to write a children’s book because they require no research (please remember this was back when I was much stupider). My logic being you just needed your imagination to entertain kids. I have since read Anthony Horowitz and recognised how ignorant my theory was. But I wrote my novel, was very pleased with it and looked into getting it published. It seems the only way to get a book published is if you’re already a bestselling author or if you’re famous in another field. So I realised I’ll have to do stand-up comedy, which is something I swore to myself I’d never do. I simply have to become one of the country’s top comedians and then they’ll HAVE to publish my book. How’s this solid and sensible career strategy working for me so far, you might ask? None of your damn business!

ACTWC: At what age did you begin writing and what did you write?

SM: I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing something but my first major success (hmm, I’ve just realised this is my biggest success so far) was when I was 7 and wrote ‘The Amazing life of Sam and Friends’. It was about 12 pages long, which for a 7 year old is about the same length as the Order of the Phoenix. My teacher read it to the enthralled class for a whole 45 minutes and afterwards my friends/fans/disciples said it was better than Roald Dahl. In 1986 you literally could not get a higher compliment from a second grader.

ACTWC: A book you often return to is…

SM: The Harry Potter series on audio book narrated by Stephen Fry. I go through all 7 once a year.

ACTWC:Full-time or part-time writer?

SM: I have to work an 8 to 6 job. It’s such a waste of time. So sadly, actual pen to paper writing is part-time. Man! I’d like it to be my job though. Who’d like to read my book? There’s a helicopter in one bit.

ACTWC: Which writer/performer would you most like to have a fireside chat with, and what would you talk about?

SM: Scottish crime writer Christopher Brookmyre. He’s one of those authors that makes you go, ‘Only I would get that reference! He must have written this book just for me! Can he see me now?’ Isn’t it a shame you really can’t recommend authors to people and you have to discover them for yourself? I want all my friends to read him.

I think Christopher and I would talk about music. It always plays a major part in his books and we seem to have the same taste. He writes the funniest, most original and exciting novels I’ve ever read. He’s now changed his name to Chris and taken all the humour, excitement and originality out of his books. I’ll ask him about that too.

ACTWC: Tell us about your career highlights to date.

SM: Oh that’s easy because there haven’t really been that many. I’ve got my own stand-up show at the moment called The History of Rock’n’Roll (1962-1989). It’s my way of justifying the useless amount of knowledge I have about rock history. I’m getting to travel around the country performing it now. If I had known that completing a project felt this good I’d have done more of this years ago.

ACTWC: What is the greatest challenge you find yourself facing when writing?

SM: Laziness. I promised myself I’d spend today finishing a short story I’m working on but instead I’m filling out a questionnaire with answers as long as novellas. Oh and that novel I mentioned earlier that I did? I wrote years ago! Now I have to change the ending because the new Batman movie stole my idea, which I stole from Dan Brown. If I don’t get off my butt the whole thing will be ripped off soon. Seriously, does anyone want to read it? It’s good.

ACTWC: Whats been the most surprising reaction during your stand up so far?

SM:I was most surprised myself to discover that I’m not particularly good at it. If my friends come and see me they won’t be embarrassed for me, but I’m never the best comedian of the night by far. That has really been a shock. I’m supposed to become the best in the country or my book will never get published. My plan was perfect, damn it! WHAT WENT WRONG!??!

Sam Marzden is a failed rock star, struggling comedian and aspiring young adult author. He currently works full time in a warehouse wrapping adult novelties. He’s looking to marry someone rich and quickly. He’s bringing his hit show The History of Rock’n’Roll (1962-1989) to the Civic Pub Braddon this Wednesday 28th and Thursday 29th November at 8pm. Tickets are $15 from

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the Author and are not necessarily representative of the ACT Writers Centre or its Management Committee.

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