19 June 2023

Viral TikTok trio to bring 'snappy' Aussie comedy to Canberra in live show

| James Coleman
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Swag on the Beat

Making viral reels is a full-time job for Isaac Gibbons, Sam Zito and Jack Say. Photo: Live Nation.

“Excuse me, mate.”

You know the feeling. You’re in Bunnings and have reached the point where you can choose to either walk out in desperation or just swallow your pride and ask a green-aproned staff member for help.

“I’m looking for 14-gauge, 100 mm galvanised bugle-head batten screws.”

There’s an air of “this is a waste of time” in the customer’s query, but quick as a flash, the staff member has a response.

“Aisle 12, halfway down on your right, three shelves up, second box on your left,” he says.

“Is there anything else I can help you with?”

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“Yeah, you can help me find my left Airpod,” the slightly befuddled customer replies, before turning to go.

But the staff member is just as quick as before: “It’s in the hidden zipper pocket on the right-hand side of your pants.”

The customer extends a tentative hand to the exact location and, lo and behold, pulls out his left Airpod.

“How did you…?”, he stutters, tossing awe-struck gawps between the Airpod and the staff member.

“Can you tell me where I went wrong with my ex-girlfriend…?”

The short video continues, but closes with a brief caption ripped from the Bunnings slogan: “Lowest prices. They’re just the beginning.”

This, and many other short videos like it, have rocketed Melbourne-based trio ‘Swag on the Beat’ to stardom on TikTok, Instagram and Facebook, amassing more than two million followers across all three platforms since 2020.

And now Jack Say, Sam Zito and Isaac Gibbons are bringing a bit of their trademark comedy here, in the form of a live stage show at the Canberra Theatre Centre on Wednesday 26 July.

They met in high school, where the “messing around and making videos” started. Later, during the COVID lockdown in Victoria, they unwittingly created their first viral video in a Woolworths supermarket.

“It was probably our best piece of work, honestly,” Isaac, aged 27, says.

“It was a guy looking at a box of condoms when someone else comes up and says, ‘Big night for you, mate’. And then there’s another guy in the aisle who also says, ‘Big night for you, mate’. And that’s about the extent of it. But we woke up the next morning and it had gone viral.”

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Their other videos cover topics from the allure of the 4 am snack to etiquette on a construction site. The theme is relatable comedy, with a distinctly Aussie flavour.

“We’re not really much of a TikTok dancer even though I do it in my room in my own time,” Jack, 26, says.

“We’re more aligned with the comedy sketch.”

Sam, 27, says people need to be able to see themselves in a video.

“What has been most successful for us is when we use relatable concepts that most people have seen or done, but we put our own twist on the end or our own sort of punch line.”

The group started with various commitments outside of comedy – Jack was a music teacher, Isaac graduated with a commerce and economics degree, and Sam is a former primary school teacher. But Swag on the Beat, and its related YouTube series ‘Chat on the Beat’, is their full-time job now. They’ve scored some lucrative gigs with Red Bull, Pepsi, and PlayStation too.

But all their hopes and dreams culminate in the “evolution of the Swag” – the live show.

“It’s in each of our dreams to take it off the screen and onto a stage. We can’t really believe that it’s all coming to fruition really,” Jack says.

Now that COVID has morphed into the background, they’re kicking off the first show in Melbourne on 7 July, followed by the Gold Coast, Brisbane, Sydney, Perth, Adelaide, and last but not least, Canberra.

But it’s not without its challenges.

“The thing about being on stage is we feel it allows us to create more of a narrative and go deeper into jokes, giving people more material to latch onto and enjoy,” Jack continues.

“But we’re very conscious of keeping it snappy and moving quickly, because online, there’s no dead time. We’ve been very particular in writing to stay true to our style.”

Book tickets to ‘Swag on the Beat: Unplugged’ on the Canberra Theatre Centre website. Tickets cost $51.09, plus a $5.95 transaction fee.

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