When cruising was suspended in response to the covid pandemic, the impact on entertainers such as comedian Mark Trevorrow, was both huge and immediate.
Renowned for his side-splittingly funny high camp onstage persona Bob Downe, Mark saw his main source of income from regular P&O Cruises Australia comedy cruises disappear overnight.
“I miss our comedy cruises something shocking and can’t wait to get all jabbed and to be back at sea,” says Mark. “We are all missing each other terribly, all of the Sit Down Comedy Club comedians. We are just counting the days until we can sail again.”
So much so that regular comedy cruise artists stay in touch with each other via a private Facebook group. And there is no disguising the impact of the pandemic on Mark’s livelihood.
“It was my primary source of income from 2016,” said Mark. “Thank goodness I was able to go on JobKeeper; it was an absolute life saver.”
Mark has taken Bob Downe back on the road while all the time looking forward “to being back on the water again.”
His onstage character is an amalgam of the world in which Mark grew up with “cheesy” variety shows a nightly feature of Melbourne television, “all straight from the Tivoli circuit” – plus flashy American movies and entertainers such as Dean Martin doing their thing.
“Bob is something I have been doing since I was a little kid growing up with all of these influences,” said Mark. “I gave him a name in 1984 and went solo with the character in 1987. I lived in the UK and had a big success at the Edinburgh Festival when I first went there in 1988 and then by 1990 I was based in London and was there for about 10 years going backward and forward to Australia.”
Mark’s love of cruising is not just business. It is also personal. He and his partner, Stefan, married in San Francisco but also loved having 80 family members on board P&O’s Pacific Jewel to celebrate their renewal of vows in 2017.
“I had never been on a cruise ship before my first comedy cruise but I completely fell in love with cruising. I absolutely love it,” said Mark. “The amazing thing with comedy cruises is that people book without knowing who the comedians will be. What that means for us as comedians is a fabulous level playing field where we all get out on stage and we live or die by how funny we are.
“You’ve also got that fellowship of your colleagues. You’re out at sea for three days with wonderful colleagues because usually when you’re touring you’re on your own and it gets pretty lonely.”
For now, Mark – and Bob Downe – are back on the road touring while dreaming of entertaining on the high seas again.
Image: Comedian Mark Trevorrow as Bob Downe on P&O Cruises’ Comedy Cruise (supplied)