How Having Kids Stopped Shaun Micallef Needing Approval “In A Pathetic Way”

Andrew McUtchenBy Andrew McUtchen.
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“In the beginning I started out [in comedy] with this insatiable appetite for performing and I was very, very needy,” Micallef says. “I always needed approval, I hungered for it in a pathetic way. Talk to people I worked with early on and they’ll tell you, I was dreadful. Because I came over to Melbourne to write and had nothing else to do and (wife) Leandra was back in Adelaide, we had no children.

“I was completely focused and fixed on being a television writer. If one of my scripts was rejected I’d be frantic. It was pathological and bizarre. I think it was because I’d left it so late, I mean I was in my thirties, I felt like it was all slipping away.”

And then, Micallef had kids.

“For me the breakthrough was the realisation that I wasn’t the centre of the universe or even the centre of my own world. That you and your work, your living, are not the only reason you’re here. Your role is to shepherd your children through to adulthood. That’s the point of life. Your own little sessions and needs and passions are just there to flavour you and help you do that job for your children.”

“These days [in my work] I love the exquisite pleasure I get from crafting something as a writer or producer and then presenting it to an audience. Watching them unwrap it. As the performer it’s still hearing that laugh. It’s inherently endorsement and approval, so the same as when I started. I’m just not dependent on it anymore.”