Australian Army to the Comedy Circuit

Army veteran Jarryd Goundrey reckons he’s a natural larrikin. “Generally, I was the funniest guy in every platoon I was in,” he said.

Army veteran Jarryd Goundrey reckons he’s a natural larrikin.

“Generally, I was the funniest guy in every platoon I was in,” he said.  

“I told good stories and I didn’t mind adding 10 per cent of ‘not truth’ onto them.”

So it is no surprise the 36-year-old found his way to a career in comedy. Jarryd joined the Australian Army in 2006 as a rifleman and discharged in 2012 at the rank of Lance Corporal.  

Originally from Perth, he spent most of his career in Townsville at the 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment and deployed to East Timor in 2007/2008.  

Officially his specialty was mortars, unofficially it was humour.  

“I used to be really good at giving orders,” he said.

“I had a bit of pizzazz about it, you know.”  

After getting out of the army, Jarryd worked as a chef in Melbourne.  

It gave him the creative outlet he didn’t find in the military, and it also led him to comedy.  

“On a Tuesday night there was an open mic comedy show down the road from where I worked,” he said.

“It was a train wreck. Anyone could sign their name up.”

Jarryd sat in the audience for two months while the lure of the stage worked its magic on him.  

“It just ate away me and one day I just thought, I'm gonna do this,” he said.

His first night he bombed.  

“It was not good, whatsoever,” Jarryd said.  

“I was talking to some of the other comedians afterwards and they were talking about their jokes.  

“I was like, oh, I should probably get some of them, that sounds pretty crucial.”

The second week, he bombed again.

But the third time, Jarryd said, it went “alright”.  

It kept getting better until he decided to quit his job to become a fulltime comedian. Unfortunately, that was in February 2020.

By March Jarryd’s budding comedy career, along with the rest of the world, came to a halt thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic. And his backup hospitality job was also a no-go.  

“That was really heartbreaking,” Jarryd said.  

“I went nearly bankrupt trying to keep that afloat, but I did (keep it afloat).”

Since January 2022, Jarryd has been working as a fulltime comedian once again.  

Last year he sold out his first solo comedy festival run with the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

“It was the hardest thing I've ever done, trying to promote it and do all these things, but it went really well,” he said.  

“By the end of it I realised, I'm not playing around anymore.

“This is tangible.”

As Jarryd settled into his new profession, he found the army had gifted him a surprising number of transferrable skills plus a ton of material he could pull out on stage.  

“Like heckling,” he said.  

“I don't care. What are you going to say to me? I've been through basic training.  

“And I did a show at last year's Melbourne International Comedy Festival about my time in the military.  

“Veterans came, and they were like, that's funny, that's so true.  

“But then civilians came, and they were like, what? Is that true?”

Comedy also helped Jarryd find pride in his service.  

“I left the military and I felt like I didn't really do enough to identify as a veteran,” he said.  

“When I started doing comedy and talked about (my service), it attracted my community back to me.  

“I've started talking a lot about the mental health issues that veterans face within my comedy and on the internet and people started reaching out.”

The former digger learnt to find pride in his post-service achievements as well.  

“I think a lot of people that serve will put their service on a pedestal,” he said.  

“They will say, ‘that was my peak’ and that induces a lot of depression.  

“Doing comedy has given me pride in what I do with myself now and what I've become. It's 15 times more powerful than anti-depressants. It’s self-worth.”  

While Jarryd found comedy a natural fit, the business of being a comedian was challenging.  

“Essentially, I'm a small business,” he said.  

“I'm the manager, I'm the product, I’m the social media guy, I'm the PR person when it goes wrong, I'm HR when I'm not looking after myself.  

“I spend 15 to 40 minutes on stage every night and 12 hours doing admin and emails.”

Jarryd said he worked out how to operate his ‘small business’ through trial and error.  

He put energy into learning skills, such as social media and graphic design, to promote himself.  

“It's called show business – 50 per cent of that equation is business,” he said.  

“Most artists are very show and they don't know how to monetise what they do.  

“I learned quite early that I had to be in control of the production. Once I cut out a lot of the middle people it was more sustainable.”

This year Jarryd found Prince’s Trust Australia and its programs that help veterans and defence spouses find success as entrepreneurs.

He called their Enterprise program his business ‘life ring’.  

“My legs were kicking and I was getting tired,” he said.  

“Then you’ve got this course full of amazing professionals and it's doesn't cost anything.

“I didn't think I'd get much out of it because my business is very unique, but I was pleasantly surprised.  

“I felt self-conscious about what people would think about going into business for myself to be professionally goofy.  

“But having people like this allows you to actually legitimise it and galvanise what you're doing.”

Jarryd has added another Melbourne Comedy Festival run to his resume this year and an Adelaide Fringe Festival run as well.  

His next challenge will be organising an Australian tour – ideally hitting garrison towns and anywhere with a ‘big’ thing.  

“If it all finished tomorrow and I could look back on my career and I'd done that tour, that's all I could have ever asked for,” he said.

“But if I can get that done, then I'm happy to make a new challenge and just keep pushing and just keep growing and keep challenging myself.”  



The Enterprise programme is proudly sponsored by Accenture ANZ, the Australian Government Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Howden Group Holdings and SAAB Australia. The Prince’s Trust Australia Enterprise programme received grant funding from the Australian Government to support veteran owned businesses.  


Prince's Trust Australia is a national charity that helps young people prepare for the rapidly changing world of work, inspires veterans and their families into entrepreneurship and self-employment, and champions resilient sustainable communities.  

Our work is inspired by our Founder and President, His Majesty King Charles III, and is driven by His vision for a more sustainable future.  

We also work in partnership with our colleagues across The Prince’s Trust Group, a global network of charities transforming lives and building sustainable communities in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and across the Commonwealth. Together, we promote, support, and inspire people and their communities to flourish.  

The Enterprise programme helps veterans and defence spouses explore and refine business ideas, launch and grow businesses and enhance skills, all while networking with likeminded people from the veteran community.

The programme is for transitioning ADF members, ADF veterans, and civilian partners or spouses of current or former serving ADF members. This includes current, separated and widowed partners.  

The Enterprise Programme is an initiative of Prince’s Trust Australia, which is part of The Prince’s Trust Group, a global network of charities founded by His Majesty King Charles III.


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