Accountant, comic, and MasterChef: Dilruk Jayasinha’s curious journey to comedy

Dilruk Jayasinha comedian

Jessica Taylor Yates

Posted April 06, 2022

As a long-time fan, and now headline performer at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Dilruk knew within seconds of stepping on stage at his first gig that “this is all I want to be doing.” 

With the Melbourne International Comedy Festival (MICF) back for another year of laughs, Melbourne-based comedian Dilruk Jayasinha says it’s a joy to be back on stage, sharing stories and having the city buzz with laughter.  

“It’s one of the three big festivals of the world [alongside Edinburgh and Montreal]. Because it’s great, it attracts a higher calibre of performer to our town, and forces all of us to step up our game – we’re going toe-to-toe with some of the world’s best. It’s a healthy level of competition that improves the quality of the festival. So, for me, I love it as a fan and a performer.”

While humble about his beginnings, his infectious zest for learning and challenging himself has seen Dilruk go from being “terrible” at comedy to performing at the Opening Gala, to “not cooking for two years” to getting to the semi-final of Masterchef, from being “so tense” during camping to heading to the jungle on I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here.  

After crafting a show focused on hating cooking and loving the single life in 2021, Dilruk’s new stand-up show, Dil’icious, focuses on his new love of cooking, navigating a long-distance relationship during the pandemic, and finding where he belongs between Australia and Sri Lanka.  

We chat to Dilruk about first gigs, family ties, and what’s on the road ahead. 

From bad admin to bombing

Born in Sri-Lanka, it was Dilruk’s lack of admin skills that brought the accounting student to our shores in 2004. “Originally, my grades were high, and I had a lucky option to choose which uni I could go to. But I was a bit of a slacker with the admin and missed the cut-off dates for the UK and USA. So, I played video games for nine months, and came to Melbourne!” he laughs.

As a bonafide Australian citizen and qualified accountant, Dilruk took a turn and got his first gig as a stand-up comedian at The Comic’s Lounge in North Melbourne. 

“I bombed!”

While the less-than-ideal start would be enough to make anyone hang up their mic for good, the opposite applied to Dilruk's appetite for a challenge.  

“After that first gig, I knew I was going to do comedy for the rest of my life…The next day, I told my boss I needed a day off a week to work on my routine.” 

“He didn’t get it – I only had a gig a month. But when I was on stage, it was just such an ‘a-ha!’ moment. I had never had such a feeling running through my body and veins that this is what I want to do. I thought, wow, I loved the process so much, and I’m bad at it. Imagine if I got good.”

Despite this, being less than perfect at a skill has never been an obstacle for Dilruk, rather, an opportunity for learning, growth, and self-improvement. 

“Being a fan of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival beforehand, I knew what good comedy was. So, when doing it, I knew it wasn’t good, but I didn’t need to be good – yet. I just needed to be there, to work.”

Melbourne Comedy Festival

Melbourne International Comedy Festival is back for another year of laughs. Image: Asha Holmes Publicity. 

Breaking out of the comfort zone and into the spotlight

When he was invited to compete on Celebrity MasterChef, with very little experience in the kitchen (two years without an appearance there, in fact), Dilruk knew he could not control the outcome – so he set his own goals instead. 

“In my head, I rig the game so I win no matter what.”  

“I can’t control the public vote, so I give myself little goals and perimeters of success that are unrelated to that. I decided that all I wanted was to get three recipes that I can practice really hard and gain a new passion for cooking.” 

While successfully completing challenges and impressing the critics saw Dilruk advance to the semi-final, it’s the new love of being in the kitchen that has had a long-lasting impact. 

Also quitting drinking and losing 40kg in the process, “the goal got stronger and stronger… and now I love cooking so much I keep buying all this new cooking equipment for the house and want to do more cooking and baking classes!”  

While Celebrity MasterChef may have been a challenge out of left field for the amateur-cooking-comedian, it was only one journey outside of Dilruk’s comfort zone.  

With a well-reported dislike of camping, Dilruk took the opportunity to appear on I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here. Despite being forced to sleep outside and have all kinds of nastiness thrown at him, “I didn’t ever want to leave!”  

“If they asked me to go back in, I’d do it in a heartbeat. I felt I had more to give, and more experiences to have.”  

While Dilruk didn’t stay in the ‘jungle’ long, he’s kept friendships with contestants from both shows including Rhonda Burchmore, Charlotte Crosby, Kishwa Chowdhury, Elise Pubrook, and Poh Ling Yeow, united by their “unique shared experience.”  

The road less travelled

As he keeps bettering himself in the world of comedy, television, podcasting, and a comedy special for Amazon, what’s next for the man of many talents?  

“I’ve never made plans like that,” he says. “I think of myself driving in fog – as long as I can see the road immediately in front of me and can trust that I’m on the road I want to be on, then I keep focusing on what’s right there.” 

Dil’icious is running for selected dates from Thurs Mar 31 – Sun Apr 24, 2022, at the Forum Melbourne – Upstairs. 

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