Since completing a Communications degree in 2001 Sam Bowring has had a varied career from introverted writer to extroverted comedian. The Spotlight caught up with him recently to get his view on his successes so far.
Sam's first job was working at the Bathurst campus as a communications officer.
"I was looking after media stores and signing out cameras and whatnot. It was a great job actually. For a mere couple of days worth of employment, I was able to generate the funds necessary to live like some kind of peasant king, especially in that time and place."
"I needed, however, something extra I felt, to justify my continued existence in the town ... so I called my parents and said 'I've decided to stay in Bathurst to write a fantasy trilogy'. I am thankful to this day that this did not cause them grave concern."
This first job gave Sam a way to support himself while he started on the literary road. "Obviously, in the beginning, nobody pays you to sit in your bedroom thinking about dragons.
After I moved from Bathurst to Sydney, I somehow 'became' a freelance writer and comedian. I got my start in TV writing through a Bathurst contact, on the sketch comedy show Big Bite. Other bits and pieces came my way as well, as my communications cronies drifted off into various sectors of the media. Also, with help of fellow grads Liam Nesbitt and Danielle Harvey, we remounted a couple of plays in Sydney that I had written while at uni.
Kent Valentine, and myself, who I had met doing late night shows at 2MCEFM, had been trying to break into the Sydney stand-up comedy scene. We found it very difficult, as there weren't many avenues for new comics to get experience, thus we decided to create a new comedy night to fill what we saw as a gap in the market.
Drawing on what we had learned about event management, we started 'Mic in Hand' at 'The Friend in Hand Hotel', which, let me never be accused of humility, was an instant success. The night was a way of providing up-and-coming comedians with a friendly and supportive environment to hone their craft, as well as playing host to well known comics such as Wil Anderson, Danny Bhoy, Daniel Kitson, Sam Simmons, and others."
The 'Mic in Hand' jumpstarted Sam and Kent's comedy careers.
In the years to follow they were to stage shows at the Adelaide Fringe and Melbourne Comedy Festivals, sign on with agents, even a spot on triple J breakfast with Wil Anderson and Adam Spencer, among TV appearances on a variety of programs.
Sam commented further "We ran Mic in Hand for some five years before Kent moved to the UK to further pursue his standup career, and I decided to 'retire' from being endlessly called by weirdos wanting stage time. We handed the room over to Liam Nesbitt, who runs it to this day."
In 2008 Sam finally sold his Fantasy trilogy, which he had started seven years earlier in a bedroom in Bathurst, to a publisher. (See below for Sam's list of published titles). Today he is still a freelance writer and comedian, and is currently working on another fantasy series.
He said "I love being the master of my own waking hours, but, if you want to be self-employed, you have to make sure that you put in the time. If you want to call yourself a writer, you had damn well better write! That means not waiting for inspiration to hit, or wussing out because of a hangover, but instead treating it like a proper job - which means setting targets, meeting deadlines, and always having a supply of crème eggs in your desk.
On the stand-up side of things, I'm not quite sure where the drive comes from. It must be there however, because it's a strange kind of sickness that makes you get up in front of strangers and try to make them laugh. I guess my drive there is, I like to show off."
Sam cites his parents as a major influence on his career path. "My parents read to me a lot when I was little – my father read me the Hobbit when I was about five, which awakened my love for fantasy writing.
Also as a child I was engrossed by shows like The Big Gig, and The Late Show. Instinctively I knew that comedy was the kind of thing I wanted to do. These days I keep at it out of a deep desire to never have a real job."
When asked what advice he had for young graduates Sam had this to say;
"Make the most of your time at uni. Although I'm certainly not decrying the real and actual skills you learn (!?), in my experience it is the friendships and bonds forged that have proved useful in the long run. Comrades of today are the co-workers and contacts of tomorrow!"