For most of us, a job that that requires waking up at 4:30am, instantly puts a look of despondence on our face. But this is the life that Anthony “Lehmo” Lehman has lived for over a decade. Breakfast radio. An almost ironic world, where meal breaks last the duration of either one Led Zeppelin track, or two songs by Rihanna, and Lehmo has it down pat.
But this isn’t where Lehmo’s story begins. Prior to establishing himself as a bankable radio host, Lehman spent ten years as a Chartered accountant. It’s easy to joke that constant exposure to insolvency and bankruptcy should ward someone away from a career in the arts. But, the draw of a life where so many people are sleeping on couches, and eating pot-noodle, is always going to be too strong for those that hear her calling.
So, eventually, Lehmo traded in the certainty of white-collar routine, and steady pay-checks, for life telling jokes and travelling in rickety Toyotas.
It didn’t all start out as glamour. One of Lehmo’s first performances was on the Hey Hey It’s Saturday, Red Faces segment. He told a few jokes, and somehow scored less than the Paraguayan woman balancing a vase on her head, but more than that Michael Jackson tribute act who wore black-face and upset Harry Conick Jr.
But he didn’t let the harsh score of “stuff all” from Red Symons stand in the way of pursuing comedy. He continued to grind, hone his craft and seek opportunity.
From humble the beginnings performing to small crowds at early festival shows, to eventually headlining comedy clubs in USA, UK, Ireland, and more, Lehman worked. He sought opportunity, collected experiences and perfected the art of humorously sharing them on stage.
Lehmo is not only one of Australia’s great story tellers, but has become one of Australia’s great stories. His willingness to abandon a life of mediocrity, for a chance at fulfilment is irrefutable, and the adventures he has had along the way make for marvellous entertainment. He’s encountered career ups and downs, having family, and has willingly entered combat zones to do comedy.
In fact, he’s been labelled Australia’s “combat comic”, due to his seven ‘tours of duty’ performing for troops in Iraq, Kuwait and East Timor. I’ve gigged at football club presentation nights, that could technically be regarded as combat zones, but I never wore a bullet-proof vest, and I cannot list those accolades on my social media.
From accountant, to radio host to combat zone comedian, Anthony “Lehmo” Lehman, is an example of what it means to pursue your goals.
My father’s accountant once advised, ‘buy a hobby farm and raise goats’. He promptly ignored this wisdom (He definitely would terrible in overalls). My accountant once advised “invest in bitcoin”, which I also promptly ignored.
The greatest lesson I’ve learned from an accountant was Lehmo, and it’s simple. There is no tax benefit, for the depreciation on your dreams. So, let’s be honest, if the message I’ve taken from Lehmo is to quit my job, and do more comedy, he probably would have been stripped off his accounting license by now anyway.
Lehmo will present an evening of standup comedy at Little Creatures’ Furphy Hall in Geelong on Saturday June 22 at 8pm. He’ll be joined by Gabe Hogan and David Tulk.
Written by Craig Frides