2015 Blog 29: Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney. Gigs 178 - 182

A couple of weeks ago I was approached by Rove McManus to move to Sydney to work behind the scenes on his new breakfast radio show.  It was the type of offer that comes from out of the blue and at an interesting time in my life.  I have loved living in Melbourne the past 13 years but in recent times felt that I was in a bit of a rut.  There was nothing particularly wrong but there was also a lack of adventure in my every day life.  To overcome this I had projects like "The Shelf" but even then it was beginning to feel very much like I was spinning wheels.

You may have heard me talk about this on my podcast "Can You Take This Photo Please?" but I'm going to repeat it here because I feel like this was important advice given to me when I was younger.  My friend Richard took me aside when I was in my early thirties and told me to look out for my mental health in my early forties.  That period can be a tricky time for men and Richard had experienced two of his good friends commit suicide at that age.  I took that advice and filed it away for when that far away magical age should appear.  

Sure enough in my early forties I think I understood what Richard was telling me.  Of course I understood it intellectually as a guy in his thirties but at this age I understood it emotionally. From my perspective it felt like people start treating you as if you no longer have potential. That whoever you are now is who you're going to be for the rest of your life.  I've never felt that before and while it might be something that I was projecting it definitely felt real to me.  I guess if you're not happy with where you're at in life then that could be quite a daunting prospect to overcome and I could see how people might make some foolish decisions.

From the moment I fully understood what Richard was talking about I have been putting parts of my life on hold to make certain I didn't succumb to this way of thinking.  There was a reason that this year's stand up show, "Snacks!" was a fun, upbeat show that spent a lot of time looking backwards in my life to make sense of where I am today.  I wanted an upbeat show that would be performed many times and not only engage with the audience but also give me something positive to come back to night after night.

When Rove called and offered this job as "Creative Producer" (Fancy title, right?) it felt like the type of opportunity I needed to kickstart the next phase of my career.  I want to continue to grow as a performer and writer and this was a great way to stimulate the creative side of my life. I want to round myself out as a person and chisel away at the preconceived notions that other people might have while also building myself back up to be a better version of "me".  I want to shed this dark cloud that has been dogging my every step for the past year and see what I can turn into once it is gone.  Self improvement is only achievable if you're willing to change and change can be equal parts terrifying and exhilarating. So I said yes and am currently living in an apartment in the city while I look for a new place to call home.

I would be lying if I didn't say that I feel exhausted and the new breakfast radio show hasn't even started yet!  Moving house is stressful and I've been flying back about the country honouring my work commitments that were already booked in months ago.  In the past month I have flown to Perth, Darwin, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.  It has left me on edge and tired.  My season of my new show "Hoot!" begins in Perth toward the end of January which when you take into account a new job and the Christmas break, doesn't leave me a lot of time to get the show right. I love stand up and performing on the live circuit has been my bread and butter for 21 years.  I don't want those skills to atrophy over the course of this radio commitment.  I've always prided myself on committing to live performance yet I can already tell this is going to be the biggest challenge of my career trying to maintain a certain level of professionalism while changing my lifestyle.  Who knows what the future holds but in the end I guess that was the whole point.  I wanted adventure and something to happen that would shock me out of the melancholy that had begun to haunt me.  Now here it is and we'll see what happens.

Gig wise I was up in Brisbane at the Sit Down Comedy Club for the first time in quite a while. Three nights at the Paddo looked like this:

 

22nd and 23rd of October:  Sit Down Comedy Club

 

Plane vs Lightning Storm

Water On Mars/Photos From Pluto

Just Like Shit!

Interstellar Message

Nostalgia

Smooth and Smoother

Justin Bourne

Uber Stupor

Kenya West

Viv Richards

Adam Goodes

Mum At 19

Frankie Called Me a Bastard

Catching and Distributing Mice

Gay Banana

Mum Is Stubborn

Bob and the Joker

Mum's Frustrations Are Now Mine

Hushed Angry Conversation

 

Apart from the final routine this was all new material that needed to be run in.  I thought the Thursday night show was better than the Friday night.  I think I was better on the first show with quite a bit of energy that I chased a little more in the second show.  I also thought the audience was more in tune with some of the topics I was discussing on the Thursday night.  I think my talk about racism on the Friday night was not a topic that a percentage of the audience wasn't interested in at all.  That is fine.  When an audience isn't in tune that is when you learn the most about your new material.  It gave me a good look on some of those new routines so I could really get my head around what could be improved upon.

On the Saturday night we unfortunately had a few tables of drunk people in at the show.  On one table there were a group of girls who thought the show was all about them.  Right next to them were a group of guys who would let you know they weren't into you by getting on their smart phones until the act finished.  Both of these tables were right up the front too so happy, happy, joy, joy.  Up the side was another group of women on a hen's night so they were FUN too.  All these tables made it difficult for the night to progress and I decided after watching the first half that I would do some new material up front but for the most part I'd concentrate on doing an airtight club set.  This wasn't the night to be playing around with new.  In fact I just wanted to do my job and get out of there since those punters had annoyed me so much with their disregard for the comedians I was performing with that night.  

 

24th of October:  Sit Down Comedy Club

 

Plane vs Lightning Storm

Water On Mars/Photos From Pluto

Just Like Shit!

Interstellar Message

20s, 30s, 40s

Hairy Baby

“I Don’t Give A Hoot!”

Hushed Angry Conversation

Glitter in Invitations

People Wearing Your Glasses

People Watching Movies Out of Context

Islamic Writing

Bjork CD

Spooning

 

Before I went onstage I told the crew that I was going to do 40 minutes without breathing and that is exactly what I did.  I performed most of my set looking past the front tables and engaging with the rest of the poor audience who were there to have a good time.  It is frustrating when you know people have paid good money to see a show and their night is ruined by the myopia of a few people in the audience.  I think the show finished well but after talking to some of the punters at the end of the night I could only feel annoyed that the night had been sabotaged by these rude tables.

From there I flew back to Melbourne to work on how I was going to proceed with the upheaval of my life while working on the new show.  I flew to Darwin on the Friday night for a corporate gig and then to Sydney on the Saturday.  The company is putting me up for the next month so I can hopefully find a place to live in that time.  On the Tuesday I flew back to Melbourne for the first show of the "Can You Take This Photo Please?" live season at The Toff In Town.  I had wanted to try and work on some new skills and thought the podcast being turned into a different type of live experience would be a nice challenge.  On the night of the first show I opened with some stand up, New Zealand comedian Guy Montgomery also performed some stand up and then participated in an interview with me.  Josh Earl knocked it out of the park with some music and then after the break I interviewed Judith Lucy and Denise Scott.  I had such a great time and loved everything that the performers brought to the stage.  My opening looked like this:

 

November 3rd:  "Can You Take This Photo Please?" Live

 

Not The Melbourne Cup

First Time In 13 Years

Richard's Advice

Male Role Models Come From TV

New Job

What is Superannuation?

What is Holiday Pay?

What is a Sick Day?

Saying Goodbye To My Hairdresser

All Star Comics

My Doctor Was At The Hives

My Landlord's Daughter Loves Interstellar

Giving Away Stuff

My Sydney Plan

Everyone Hates Hammo's New Girlfriend

 

There was a lot of new material involved and it was fun to have a play with new ideas to a great audience.  It was such a fun night and I'm looking forward to the next two shows although it is going to be a challenge.  We start breakfast radio tomorrow so late nights are going to kick my arse but we'll make it work even if I have to sleep...well, I'm not certain when I'm going to get to sleep.  Christmas I guess?

I flew back to Sydney on the Wednesday and continued working at the new job.  On Friday I jumped up to do a small spot at Happy Endings.  I was going to work on more new material but a few things worked against me on the night.  Firstly Tom Gleeson was in town and jumped up to also work on new material and the audience was (rightfully so) excited to see him.  I followed and while they were fine to see me it was definitely not the same excitement they had for Tom.  That makes a lot of sense as he has a much higher profile and if I hadn't been so tired on the night I would have insisted that Tom had gone on after my spot as that would have just been a bigger build for the audience.  I know how to put a night together but I was just a bit vague before the gig and let that one get away from me.  There was also a heckler in the audience (there appear to be a lot more around these days) who was belligerent and tedious which made it difficult to get a handle on the new material I was trialling.  I gave up the idea of working on the new halfway through my set and finished with some routines that I know back to front.  I dealt with the heckler, he was an easy target because he was such a tool but it was disappointing.  I was feeling the effects of the previous week and just wanted to blow out some steam and see if I could learn something the new gags.  It went fine but in the end I would have been happier to just go out to dinner and get to bed early.  

 

November 6th:  Happy Endings

 

Plane vs Lightning Storm

Water On Mars/Photos From Pluto

Just Like Shit!

Interstellar Message

Hushed Angry Conversation

Spooning

 

It has been an interesting few weeks and it isn't going to slow down.  I'm going to learn a lot and it is going to be a challenge to see how I manage everything from here.  My Saturday was spent looking for a new place to live and working until about 10.30pm at night.  I was in bed soon after that and I'm back up today at 6.30am trying to work on all of my little projects.  It is going to be a juggling act but I wanted something to shake up my life and here it is.  

 

Justin Hamilton

8th of November, 2015

Sydney

 

 

2015 Blog 28: Free Wil and The Local. Gigs 175 - 177

My latest trip to Perth ended up being quite an emotional couple of days.

I flew in to the west knowing that Mix94.5’s Shane McFarlane had died due to health complications.  I can’t pretend to tell you that I knew Shane well but the few times we had met he was always friendly, effusive in his praise and just a top guy.  A few years ago I was in Las Vegas with a few friends and had bumped into him in a bar where we shared a few drinks and had some laughs.  I’ve been reviewing movies and TV for Mix94.5 for eight years now beginning with “The Bunch” and transitioning with Lisa Shaw to drive on the “Lisa and Pete Show” and while I have lived in Melbourne during that time I still consider them family. I was going to slip into the station that day to say hi but found myself in a no man’s land as I knew people were dealing with their grief in many different ways and the last thing I wanted to do was be in the way.

That night I was supporting Wil Anderson at the Exhibition Centre and we talked long and hard about what had happened to Shane.  We caught up with radio guru Fred Botica and shared more stories about Shane.  At the show Wil talked to the audience about Shane and helped explain the effect he’d had not only in Perth but abroad.  The applause and cheer that Shane received was heartening and I hope it brought some solace to the people in the audience who held him in high regard.

It is weird to perform comedy when you’re feeling down but your job is to entertain and make people laugh.  At that point it isn’t about you.  You have to put your feelings aside and do the right thing by the audience.  It is a dangerous place to live sometimes because you can be so removed from your true feelings you can over time not deal with the repercussions of those darker thoughts but on this night I felt we collectively discovered the correct balance and I think the show was a top shelf affair.

 

9th of October:  Free Wil

 

Biker Gig

Word In Scrabble

New Year’s Resolution

Abs or Interesting

Happiness

Gym

“I’m Entitled To My Opinion”

Islamic Writing

Adam Goodes

Bjork CD

Scout Gig

 

The following night we were back for night two of the Perth shows and I had the strangest moment I’ve experienced onstage in a long time.  We were only a few seconds into the gig when I looked down at the front row and there was a person sitting there that; from where I was standing, looked exactly like Stella Young.  For those of you who didn’t know Stella she was a cracking comedian who tragically died at the end of 2014.  The lady in the front row was partially lit by the glow of the onstage lights and with the wisps of the smoke machine drifting over her face she looked so much like Stella that while the audience was laughing at my opening joke I nearly said, “Hey Stella!”  For the rest of the gig while I was performing I kept looking at this lady and was ever so slightly distracted for the rest of my time onstage.  It is weird and exciting and funny the things that might be going through your head while you’re performing for 2,000 plus people but this took up most of my thoughts for the rest of the time I was onstage.

I introduced Wil and as the lights swirled about us and the AC/DC track blared I quickly told him not to freak out when he looked down to his right because there was someone who looked exactly like Stella.  I left the stage and watched the show.  Wil was great.  Of course.  75 minutes later Wil finished the show, walked into the green room and exclaimed (while hitting the wall with an open hand to emphasise what he was saying…a very Wil thing to do), “OH.  MY.  GOD!”  He had thought the same thing throughout his gig but for him it was much longer than what I had to cope with.  I have never performed a gig where someone in the audience reminds me of a deceased friend and it is a feeling I can do without.  I once sat on a tram in Melbourne and had a girl sit next to me who out the corner of my eye reminded me of a long departed friend and that was bad enough.  This was a very bizarre experience.

After the gig we retired to the bar to have a drink and lo and behold this lady was there!  She called us over and offered to buy us a drink and when we sat down with her she in fact didn’t look that much like Stella at all.  She reminded us of Stella but up close under proper light without a spooky smoke machine obscuring her face she actually looked like someone else.  She looked like herself.  Her name was Prue and we had a drink to only discover that not only was she a blast but a friend of Stella

I was worried when you walked out,” Prue said.  “That you’d look down and think I was Stella.”

Without looking at each other Wil and exclaimed, “No.  What?  Did you think that?  We didn’t think that.

In hindsight I wish we’d been honest.  I think we didn’t want to offend but the fact is Prue was funny and smart enough to deal with two idiot comedians who had been thinking exactly that.  If you’re reading this Prue, you were right and the next drinks are on us.  Prue provided us with a fun end to the night and after a few more drinks with some friends it was time to hit the sack. 

 

 

10th of October:  Free Wil

 

 

Biker Gig

Word In Scrabble

New Year’s Resolution

Abs or Interesting

Happiness

Gym

“I’m Entitled To My Opinion”

Water On Mars/Photos from Pluto

Islamic Writing

Adam Goodes

Bjork CD

Scout Gig

 

 

Back in Melbourne I headlined the Local for Janet McLeodJanet has been a stalwart of the Melbourne Comedy scene for a long time now and for a while there was the only quality outlet for subversive and alternative comedy.  A lot of great comedians received important stage time through Janet and when she asked if I could headline her room I jumped at the chance.  The last gig I had there I had a bit of a meltdown with what I considered a shitty audience and an unresponsive group of comedians on the bill who did nothing to provide a sense of camaraderie through a tough night.  It is disappointing because even the best rooms have dud audiences and it is helpful when your fellow comics are all in it together.   I took this as an opportunity to spiritually redeem myself in the room (which sounds like a terrible euphemism) and with an excellent and varied line up had the type of gig I’ve enjoyed regularly in the past.

 

19th of October:  The Local

 

Ringing Talk Back Radio

Uber Stupor

Justin Bourne

Mum at 19

Frankie Called Me a Bastard

Catching and Distributing Mice

Gay Banana

Bob and the Joker

Mum’s Frustrations Are Now Mine

The Bunta Boys and the Bad Host

 

This ended up being an eventful run of gigs.  I was looking forward to taking a bit of a rest before I had to fly to Brisbane and Darwin over the next two weeks but little did I know there was something just around the corner that was about to change everything.

What was it? 

You’ll have to tune in to the next blog.

Same bat time.

Same bat station.

 

Justin Hamilton

23rd of October, 2015

Paddington, Queensland

            

2015 Blog 27: Essendon Debate and Works In Progress. Gigs 171 - 174

I had a couple of weeks away from performing and to be honest it was exactly what I needed. Anyone who read the previous entry would know that it had been a bit of a weird run of gigs and luckily I was in a position where I could walk away from everything for a short period of time. Sometimes when you're feeling burned out there is nothing you can do about it.  There have been periods during comedy and fringe festivals that you'd like to pack up your bags and hide in a cave somewhere for a solid few days but that just isn't going to happen in those circumstances. I thoroughly enjoyed being away from stand up over this little break.  

Over the course of three nights I had shows dubbed "Works In Progress" where I threw as many ideas as I could into an hour set to see where I was at.  I attempted to avoid any major structure to see if the material would naturally suggest one.  For this year's show "Snacks!" I approached the season completely differently to previous seasons by not writing one routine down.  I never sat at a desk and had a look at the material and attempt to re-write parts of the show.  I did all my work onstage and even though there were times that I thought, "I wouldn't mind sitting down and writing that piece out to see if I can squeeze some extra jokes in there", I'd made a deal that it all had to happen onstage or not at all.  It was a good exercise that I think produced a fun show.

With this new show (at this point named "Hoot!") I want to attempt to put into play what I learned from the last show but apply more writing across the board to see if I can find a happy medium.  In the past shows like "Three Colours Hammo" and "Johnny Loves Mary Forever 1994" were very much a blend of written work and routines worked out onstage.  This time I'd like to get the blend somewhere around the 60-70% onstage and the rest written.  With that in mind I wanted to do three works in progress that may have had some cross over but also differed greatly night to night.  The last thing I wanted to do was find myself bogged down into a form that I felt I had to keep for the next six to eight months.  With that in mind here are the three set lists from the little run of shows:

 

September 30th:  Work In Progress 1

 

Water On Mars/Photos From Pluto

Interstellar Message

David Bowie Rant

Nostalgia:  The 80s Were Positive

Nostalgia:  Phil Collins On The River Torrens

Smooth and Smoother

Finally Listened To Cold Chisel

Bowie Rant Continued

Justin Bourne

Uber Stupor

80s Fashion and Feeding The World

Mum At 19

Frankie Called Me a Bastard

Catching and Distributing Mice

Gay Banana

Mum Is Stubborn

Bob and the Joker

Mum's Frustrations Are Now Mine

Male Role Models Come From TV

Look Out For Your Friends

Basketball Coach

Bowie Rant Finished

 

As you can see in this set list there is a lot of talk about David Bowie.  I had one note on my sheet of paper to mention his last album and instead the whole show pretty much revolved around the first time I saw Bowie, his work in the 80s and 90s, the time I met him and the last album he produced.  Parts of the Bowie story have found their way into bits of stand up and stories on podcasts but for the most part the gist of this story was new.  

As you can see as well there are lots of smaller routines.  What will happen is over time the routines that feel the strongest will continue to evolve and then match up with other routines. This will then mean that two smaller routines will become a bigger routine and possibly have a new name or the bigger routine will absorb the smaller routine.  I'm basically building universes here, right?  I think that is how the solar system came together if I remember my basic science lessons correctly.  

 

October 1st:  Work In Progress 2

 

"I'm Home!"

Puss, Floyd and the Fish

Interspecies Friendship

Water On Mars/Photos From Pluto

Interstellar Message

Just Like Shit!

My Friends Fight Nostalgia

Nostalgia:  Phil Collins On The River Torrens

Smooth and Smoother

Nostalgia:  The 80s Were Positive

Yacht Rock and Men Emoting

Male Role Models Come From TV

Look Out For Your Friends

Justin Bourne

Uber Stupor

Basketball Coach

Mum At 19

Frankie Called Me a Bastard

Catching and Distributing Mice

Gay Banana

Mum Is Stubborn

Bob and the Joker

Mum's Frustrations Are Now Mine

Smashing Stuff

Blender

Hollywood Is Mental

Australian Movie Universe

 

As you can see there is more of a blend between material from the previous night and material that has been tried a handful of times at gigs like "The Shelf".  Once again I wanted to change it up enough to see if there were any themes that were developing outside of any possible structure to the show.  Here's the final set list:

 

October 2nd:  Work In Progress 3

 

Water On Mars/Photos From Pluto

Interstellar Message

Just Like Shit!

"I'm Home!"

The Bunta Boys

Nostalgia:  Phil Collins On The River Torrens

Bad Host

Basketball Coach

Male Role Models Come From TV

Mum At 19

Frankie Called Me a Bastard

Catching and Distributing Mice

Gay Banana

Mum Is Stubborn

Bob and the Joker

Mum's Frustrations Are Now Mine

Smashing Stuff

Kenya West

Meeting Viv Richards

Adam Goodes

Bad Host Finish

Basketball Coach Finish

"Clear Eyes!"

 

Once again another show with a mash up of previous routines from not only the last two nights but also some of the newer material I'd been working on over the last couple of months.  All in all it was a good run that allowed me to get an idea of where this new show might be headed and even though I was resisting the thought of any structure rearing up by the end of the final night it appeared that there might just be one hiding in plain sight.

Amongst these three gigs I was one of the debaters at the Essendon Football Club's show at Crown Melbourne.  The topic was "AFL players are role models not male models" and I was on the negative team.  I closed our side's argument and I thought you might like to check out the debate below.  It was a fun day and any gig that gives me the opportunity to mention Dermott Brereton's tiny teeth will always make me happy.  Enjoy!

 

October 1st:  Essendon Debate

 

The AFL has never been more popular and it is no surprise it has coincided with players looking hunkier than ever.  Watching men in tight shorts bouncing around used to be the domain of Pet Shop Boys film clips but now women can bundle the family together under the pretence they’re off to support their team.  Luckily the cheering at games often drowns out the noise of women’s ovaries exploding as they see their favourite player grab another man and throw him to the ground in a way that is rough but hopefully won’t get you suspended.

But are AFL players role models?  I’m here to say that they’re not and that is okay because we don’t need them to be role models.  People aren’t thinking, “I wonder what Nat Fyfe thinks about the war in the Middle East?” as he plays the game.  What they’re actually thinking is, “What a shame he plays for Fremantle.”  When Sharrod Wellingham takes a mark nobody is thinking, “I wonder if he’s worried about the falling dollar?”  They’re thinking, “What happened to his hair since he left Collingwood?”  When Travis Cloke kicks a goal nobody thinks, “I wonder if Trav is perturbed by Malcolm Turnball ousting Tony Abbott before Labor could?” and instead they’re thinking, “Holy shit, Travis Cloke kicked a goal.”

It is better for football that the game is chock full of hunky men.  Have you seen other sports?  Rugby League is full of guys who can’t wear a tie because they forgot to pack a neck.  Basketball is full of men who can lean up and eat food from the top of a tree.  Golf is full of men who play golf.  AFL is a good looking sport and that is how we like it.

It didn’t use to be that way.  Remember back in the 80s how unattractive footballers were.  This was a time when Dermott Brereton was considered handsome with his curly blonde hair, his pigeon chest and his tiny teeth.  This is how attractive Brereton was in his time:  In 1988 Dermie kissed Billy Duckworth in the middle of a game and Duckworth was quoted as saying, “Thank god it wasn’t Buckenara”.  Look at that Hawthorn team.  Champions through and through but Jason Dunstall always looked like a man who was eventually going to lose a fight with a doughnut factory, Robert DiPierdomenico looked like the type of guy you hoped didn’t turn out to be your father-in-law and Gary Ayers was more mullet than man.  Back then “Tiny Teeth” Dermie was the guy you wanted kissing you on the field.

Compare that to the Hawthorn team of today.  Jack Gunston is so handsome opposition players don’t know whether to tackle or spoon him.  Josh Gibson is so cut you wonder what else he could do from behind in a back pocket and Luke Hodge is such a spunk he even looks good in Hawthorn’s poo brown and wee yellow colours.

I think it is beyond AFL players to be role models these days because the 24/7 news cycle has these young men trained within an inch of their lives on how to answer questions and in the process it has made them as interesting as a vanilla wafer in a manila folder pressed up against a beige wall.  Rather than answer questions honestly they tow the party line but it would be so much more interesting if they were just honest.  Instead of saying, “We’re just taking it one game at a time.” I’d love to see a player respond, “To be honest we just didn’t want any injuries against Carlton so we’re ready for West Coast next week.”

Instead of, “We’ve just got to go out and play four quarters of footy.” How about, “If we build up a big score against Melbourne we can coast until the final siren.”

When a player says, “We’ll have to look at that as a playing group.” I’d prefer to hear, “Don’t tell Stevie J but we’re getting Dangerfield and can no longer afford him.”

I love the AFL but all I need from the players I admire is the ability to kick, mark, tackle, smother and not throw stones at me when I yell out, “I love you Rory Sloane, please don’t leave Adelaide.”  Would I ever get in touch with a player for help?  Sure.  If I needed to know which Nivea moisturiser for men is best to use after a game I’ll call Scott Pendlebury.  If I need to know which Ralph Lauren Slim Fit cargo pant will go well with my Gingham poplin dress shirt then go ahead, ring Jimmy Bartel.  If I need to know the difference between a waltz and a cha cha then I’ll be on the phone to Jude Bolton but if I want a role model I’ll be looking elsewhere thank you.  I want my footy quick, hard and winning but keep your thoughts to yourselves guys, there’s a chance you’ll ruin my colourful view of you by saying something bland.

 

Justin Hamilton

8th of October, 2015

Fitzroy North

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

2015 Blog 26: The Shelf, The Comic's Lounge and Regional SA. Gigs 160 - 170

It has been a while between drinks...or blogs to be more accurate.

Over the past couple of weeks I've taken some time out from the world of gigging and social media to try and reset myself for the run up to the end of the year.  This has been a productive time and also a trying time in many ways.  When the opportunity came to return to Adelaide and spend time with my family for my birthday I knew it was the best thing that I could do. This industry can be so inspiring yet draining.  If you're not careful you can leave yourself exhausted especially if you try to fit too much into a day. That day becomes a week.  That week becomes a month.  Before you know it you're half way through the following year wondering what happened to get you to this point.  I have that performer's mentality where you say yes to just about everything because in the back of your head you have that fear that it could all end tomorrow.  In the process you can inadvertently push aside the important parts of your life and neglect them to such an extent that you have trouble recognising yourself.

The goal in my 43rd year is to take time out and be a little more selfish. Take time out from the industry and spend more time with those friends that I grew up with.  When your job blurs the line of going to work and being social it is important to reassess the lines and make them more prominent. Just because you work with someone it doesn't mean they're your friend. Just because your friends don't go out at night it doesn't mean they don't have time to see you.  Just because you're tired doesn't mean you can't find time to make contact with the people who matter the most.  

Anyway this all seems a little heavier than I intended but I find around my birthday I constantly try to take stock of where I'm at, what I can improve and what I can build on for the future. Having quiet time in Adelaide amongst family and a select group of friends can really help out with that.

Shows in this period were all over the place.  It was indeed a bizarre run of gigs that left me a little exhausted and on edge.  In fact the last had me not dealing with a situation very well at all but we'll get to that at the bottom of this blog.  

The last two shows for season 12 of "The Shelf" were great though.  Excellent audiences, terrific line ups and a lot of fun.  The set lists were:

 

August 24th:  The Shelf

 

Kenya West

Meeting Viv Richards

Adam Goodes

 

August 31st:  The Shelf

 

Basketball Coach

Operation Fortitude

Smashing Stuff

Blender

Forgotten Kid and His Kid

 

Both gigs were uniformly great and I've been happy with both seasons we've had this year.  I also felt that maybe there was a creeping malaise that while all three shows were of a high standard maybe the show itself had become a victim of expectation.  I didn't feel that there was a stand out moment that had me excited or buzzing.  In defence of the show there are few gigs in a year that really hit the heights of inspiration.  Once it becomes a job it is exactly that and you have to temper expectations so you don't walk away from a really good show feeling disappointed.  It is one of the most difficult aspects to conquer in your professional life.  I think when you start the highs are so amazing and the lows are so depressing it is easy to ride that pendulum back and forth.  Over time though you recognise most situations and therefore it is more difficult to be surprised or inspired.  

This feeling was probably my feeling alone and I don't want to suggest this was what people were experiencing backstage or in the audience.  Yet for me it felt like I had done all of this before and I wasn't certain that I was learning anything new from the show.  With that in mind I talked to Adam Richard, The Toff in Town and my management to come to the conclusion that this was the final season of "The Shelf" for 2015.  We'll bring it back next year for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and with a big block of time between now and then, I hope that the inspiration will find a way to help me find the heights it has hit in the past.  Instead in November I'll be hosting three live shows for "Can You Take This Photo Please?" with guests Judith Lucy, Denise Scott, Tony Martin, Lehmo, Anne EdmondsGuy Montgomery and more. Check here for details.

In between the second and third shows for "The Shelf" I was a guest on The Dollop live podcasts with Dave Anthony and Gareth Reynolds at The Comic's Lounge and in Adelaide at the Arkaba Hotel. After the Adelaide show we put on a bonus gig at The Rhino Room which included Greg Fleet. This was a fun and anarchic show that started at 11pm and finished around 1am.  I hosted and the opening of the second bracket was literally 15 minutes of me telling Fleety to stop interrupting me with comedy gold.  A lot of fun for a show that felt like it should have been a part of the Adelaide Fringe.  Here's the set list for the opening bracket:

 

August 26th:  The Rhino Room

 

Justin Bourne

Uber Stupor

Hollywood Is Mental

Australian Movie Universe

 

From there it was a four night stand at The Comic's Lounge with me hosting, Celia Pacquola headlining, Geraldine Hickey opening and Harley Breen supporting.  On the Friday night Dave Thornton filled in for Harley who was already committed to a gig on the Gold Coast and young fella Ciaran Lyons also joined us at the top of the show on the Friday and Saturday night. This was a challenging run of gigs for a bunch of different reasons.

The first show just felt a little flat.  There was nothing wrong with it per se but it felt like the audience never quite got on board from the get go.  I'm guessing that the first two days of the week had suggested summer was finally here and then on this Wednesday night it was suddenly back to being freezing so that could be a very legitimate reason for an audience not having the energy you'd expect.  Everyone performed their arses off though and as I said up above, you have to recognise a show for what it is and then work out if within those parameters whether you pulled it off or not. I think we did but it also felt like hard work.

 

September 2nd:  The Comic’s Lounge

 

1st Bracket

 

Biker Gig

Justin Bourne

Uber Stupor

20s, 30s, 40s

Hairy Baby

“I Don’t Give A Hoot!”

Hushed Angry Conversation

 

2nd Bracket

 

Can’t Drink Anymore

 

3rd Bracket

 

Before The Internet

 

The second night of the run was a standard show although I noticed that there were a lot of older people in the audience.  This is not the worst thing in the world when you have a show that runs for an hour but as the night progressed from the first bracket to the second and onto the last bracket I could feel the energy drop.  I definitely felt at the top of the third bracket that they'd had enough of me over the course of the night and just wanted Celia on the stage.  That is fine. Sometimes you get that as the host.  You can't...or shouldn't...take it personally.

 

September 3rd:  The Comic’s Lounge

 

1st Bracket

 

Biker Gig

Justin Bourne

Uber Stupor

20s, 30s, 40s

Hairy Baby

“I Don’t Give A Hoot!”

Hushed Angry Conversation

 

2nd Bracket

 

Can’t Drink Anymore

 

3rd Bracket

 

Before The Internet

 

On the third night when I arrived I was informed we were going to start the first bracket with the lights on in the audience so a professional photographer could take pictures that showed how big the audience was. Audiences hate being lit up because it makes a very different type of energy in the room.  People feel self conscious.  It undermines the comedian because there are more distractions that can be seen in the room.  It isn't a great situation to be in.  If you ever see one of your favourite comedians doing a day time gig you will notice they are exponentially less funny.  It just isn't the right vibe.  Still I figured I would do my best and had decided to play around with my material so as to generate some fun.

One minute into the show after I'd finished the house keeping I was heckled by a punter.  It wasn't particularly funny or clever but it came right at the beginning while I was trying to set up the night that was already strange because of the lights on in the crowd.  I proceeded to go to town on this guy for a substantial amount of time and while it generated a lot of laughs it had me pitching my performance for the rest of the night slightly bigger than I would have liked.  Once the testosterone begins to flow it is hard to put a cap on it and while the night was a success I can't say that I really enjoy that type of performance.  I did my job but it isn't the type of comedian I like to portray onstage.  

 

September 4th:  The Comic’s Lounge

 

1st Bracket

 

Heckler

Biker Gig

20s, 30s, 40s

Hairy Baby

“I Don’t Give A Hoot!”

Hushed Angry Conversation

 

2nd Bracket

 

Before The Internet

 

3rd Bracket

 

Glitter in Invitations

People Wearing Your Glasses

People Watching Movies Out of Context

 

By the time I reached the final show I was keen to just have a good time.  It had been a good but bumpy ride and I just wanted to enjoy performing with my friends in a venue I've had a lot of good times in.  Suffice to say this is not how it played out.  It is too complicated to get into but between a couple of drunk friends, some more heckling and a couple of rednecks in the audience who were causing a scene out in the front bar, there was a bad vibe and a level of aggression I am not interested in.  When I was younger there was a sense of pride in being able to stare someone down and mentally eviscerate them with your humour but that was a long time ago. This night when the heckling began it was even earlier than the night before and I felt tired even having to deal with it.  I dealt with it throughout the night and would say I won the battle but it was exhausting.  I'm lucky that most of the time my job is a lot of fun.  Not many people get to say that.  Unfortunately though no fault of anyone involved it felt like a lot of work.

 

September 5th:  The Comic’s Lounge

 

1st Bracket

 

Heckler

Biker Gig

20s, 30s, 40s

Hairy Baby

“I Don’t Give A Hoot!”

Hushed Angry Conversation

 

2nd Bracket

 

Before The Internet

 

3rd Bracket

 

Glitter in Invitations

People Wearing Your Glasses

People Watching Movies Out of Context

 

I had a couple of days off before flying to Sydney for a debate and then it was on the road with Tom Gleeson for shows in Bordertown, Murray Bridge and Millicent.  Gleeson is one of my closest friends and the opportunity to be on the road with him was just the tonic I needed.  The gang behind Big Brown Productions put on some great nights and I just decided I'm going to do the same routine each night and be quite relaxed.  On the opening night in Bordertown the set list was the following:

 

September 10th:  Bordertown

 

Kid At Captain America

20s, 30s, 40s   

Hairy Baby

“I Don’t Give A Hoot!”

Hushed Angry Conversation

Can't Drink Anymore

Mum and Her Cats

Before the Internet

Glitter in Invitations

People Wearing Your Glasses

People Watching Movies Out of Context

Spooning

 

This was a really fun gig including the old lady in the audience who appeared to be off her tree for the whole show.  Gleeson and I thought she was hilarious but after talking to punters at the end of the night I think she drove quite a few people mad.  I can understand how that happens and it was disappointing to know that some people had their night tainted by a crazy woman's ravings.  

Our next night was in Murray Bridge and this gig started off on fire:

 

September 11th:  Murray Bridge

 

Biker Gig

20s, 30s, 40s   

Hairy Baby

“I Don’t Give A Hoot!”

Hushed Angry Conversation

Can't Drink Anymore

 

Break

 

Little Boy Joke

Can't Drink Anymore (reset)

Mum and Her Cats

Before the Internet

Glitter in Invitations

People Wearing Your Glasses

People Watching Movies Out of Context

Spooning

 

This gig was an absolute belter and I was having a great time when a young girl in the audience suddenly had an epileptic fit.  I can only imagine how scary it was for the girl, her family and everyone in the vicinity.  I could feel something was going wrong in the audience and once we knew what was happening I had the lights turned on and moved everyone out into the foyer to give the family some privacy.  Weirdly enough this isn't the first time this has happened to me or Gleeson so I felt fairly confident about how we had to deal with it.  Once we knew the girl was fine and the audience was settled we started the show again and I slowly eased back into my set. The audience were fantastic and we had a great night.  We found out that the girl and her Mum were able to joke about it in the ambulance and from all reports she is in good shape now.  Still, that is very scary stuff and hopefully nothing like that will happen again for the girl and her family.

Our final gig was in Millicent and Gleeson opened the show the same way he had the previous two nights by walking out onstage and introducing not just how the show would work but also me as the support act.  The first two nights were great but on this night there were a couple in the audience who piped up when Gleeson announced he would be out later. 

"We don't want a support act," I heard one of them say to Gleeson. Unfortunately it was close to my entrance and Gleeson missed it.  I tried to block it from my mind but when I walked out I noticed this older couple just refuse to look up at me while I was onstage.  I can't stress how great the rest of the audience were but throughout my set this couple talked, refused to look up and then eventually walked out to great a drink.  It is one thing to have an audience not like your material but to have people not even give you a shot is mildly infuriating.  Still I ignored them and continued with my set which was the following:

 

September 12th:  Millicent

 

Biker Gig

20s, 30s, 40s   

Hairy Baby

“I Don’t Give A Hoot!”

Hushed Angry Conversation

Can't Drink Anymore

Mum and Her Cats

Before the Internet

Glitter in Invitations

People Wearing Your Glasses

People Watching Movies Out of Context

Spooning

 

At the end of the night Gleeson and I had been finishing the night off by getting onstage together and riffing with the audience.  It had been a lot of fun and the audiences had been great. Yet in my gut I felt this night was going to be different.  I knew this couple had it in them to get a bit lippy and without fail the man had a crack at me about my delivery and how I was a liar.  That is one of the more bizarre heckles I have received but what annoyed me was that I know they hadn't given me a go having made up their mind when Gleeson said he had a support act.  After two weeks of weirdness onstage to have someone have a crack that I felt wasn't fair was too much for me. 

So I had a crack back.

And another.

And another.

And when everything was really awkward I embraced the awkwardness and had another couple of cracks.  To say that the night was totally derailed would be an overstatement but Gleeson definitely had to do some dancing to get it back on track.  It was not very professional of me and I should be above that type of stuff.  Yet at the same time I wasn't going to stand back and let this arsehole feel like he'd gotten away with his comments.  To be honest it has been so long since I had a brain fart like that onstage I have to admit it was mildly exhilarating.  This is not something I want to get in the habit of and what I should have done is nailed this guy with a smile and some jokes peppered amongst the truth of it all.  

Sometimes you have to call an arsehole an arsehole.  

And I did.

Probably a bit too much. 

Gleeson and I had a good night later sharing stories about the times we have lost it at someone onstage and while it isn't something to revel in it does make for a pretty funny night.  This outburst though told me I was tired and needed some rest.  After these gigs I returned to Adelaide and kept a very low profile by staying away from social media, comedy and work in general.  I would have preferred not to have had that moment in Millicent (And by the way the rest of the audience was fantastic.  A lot of them came up to me after the gig to have their crack at the guy I had to deal with.  Sometimes arseholes can be positive by bringing good people together.) but when something like that goes down all you can do is take a step back, learn from it and move on.

And that is that.

 

Justin Hamilton

25th of September, 2015

Fitzroy North

2015 Blog 25: The Shelf and Chapel Off Chapel. Gigs 155 - 159

At a time when it can be quiet on the circuit I was rapt to have a very busy August.

Between The Shelf starting up and a quick trip back to Adelaide to appear as one of the guests at the live recording of The Dollop, I've only just had an opportunity to sit down and write about these gigs.  In fact we won't get to The Dollop shows until the next blog so consider that a bit of radio sizzle skill as I let you know what is coming up after this Stereophonic triple play.

With season 12 of The Shelf starting up all efforts were funnelled into opening night.  Once the season begins I find the season quite easy to manage but I'm mildly paranoid I'll forget something important in the lead up and the show will unravel before my eyes.  With a stellar line up to juggle and a desire to start strong I spent a lot of time preparing for this gig.

I think the show itself was excellent but I felt a little removed from the opening.  It was frustrating to have that type of start because I thought the preparation was good and the material relatively strong for new routines.  I even added a little extra to the Justin Bourne story that may find a way into next year's show, "Hoot!"  I'd had a distracting afternoon and unfortunately it followed me onto the stage.  Luckily one of the team from my management group was there and when they pointed out that they felt I was a little distracted it actually helped me refocus.  From then on I felt like I was back in form but it was annoying to not be quite on top of it at the start.  I have to bring a certain energy to the show as the host and it was definitely not quite up to scratch.

Booooo to mediocrity, right?

I'll have to do the right thing by the material in subsequent gigs.  Here's the set list from the opening night:

 

August 17th:  The Shelf

 

Justin Bourne

Uber Stupor

Hollywood Is Mental

Australian Movie Universe

 

The next night I ran the workshop and hosted the open mic night at The Comic's Lounge.  I enjoy these types of nights and the new comics that came to the workshop were interesting and asked good questions.  I didn't know the workshop was supposed to finish about half an hour before the doors were opened to the general public and instead went right up to almost the start time of the show.  That was a two hour workshop and to be honest I was knackered by the beginning of the actual show.

(Yes, I am trying to bring "knackered" back to the everyday vernacular.)

So once again I started the night a little low in energy and it came through in my performance. Two nights in a row!  Bah!  I was 100% peeved at myself and could feel the gears crunching in my opening set as I fought my own lack of energy and attempted to corral a mildly apathetic audience into line.  

By the beginning of the second bracket I was so annoyed with myself that I brought a much better energy to the show that was fuelled completely by frustration.  Never let it be said that negative emotions can't be turned into something positive.  

In the end it was a late night and between the workshop and the show I'd practically talked on an off for nearly 5 hours.  I can imagine a lot of you out there thinking that might be four and a half hours too many and to be honest I don't necessarily disagree.  Here's the set list:

 

August 18th:  The Comic’s Lounge

 

1st Bracket

 

Biker Gig

20s, 30s, 40s

Invite To Parties

Hairy Baby

“I Don’t Give A Hoot!”

Hushed Angry Conversation

 

2nd Bracket

 

Can’t Drink Anymore

 

3rd Bracket

 

Before The Internet

 

I had the following night off before launching into a three night stand at Chapel Off Chapel as part of the "Glow Festival".  Each night there were different headliners and support acts while I hosted all three shows.  With line ups that included Dave Thornton, Tommy Little and Cal Wilson, these were three fun shows that allowed me to work in a different part of town and a venue I'd never set foot in before.  I can't believe I'd never been to Chapel Off Chapel and not only was it fun to perform there I was over the moon that my atheist vibe didn't set off some residual faith that may have been floating in the rafters.  

 

Here are the three set lists:

 

August 20th:  Chapel Off Chapel:  Headliner Dave Thornton

 

1st Bracket

 

Kid At Captain America

20s, 30s, 40s

Invite To Parties

Hairy Baby

“I Don’t Give A Hoot!”

Hushed Angry Conversation

 

2nd Bracket

 

Justin Bourne

Uber Mistake

 

 

August 21st:  Chapel Off Chapel:  Headliner Tommy Little

 

1st Bracket

 

Biker Gig

New Year’s Resolution

Happiness

Gym

“I’m Entitled To My Opinion”

Islamic Writing

Bjork CD

Scouts Gig

 

Between Acts

 

Hushed Angry Conversation

 

2nd Bracket

 

Glitter In Invitations

People Wearing Your Glasses

Watching Movies Out Of Context

Spooning

 

 

August 22nd:  Chapel Off Chapel:  Headliner Cal Wilson

 

1st Bracket

 

Kid at Wedding

Can’t Drink Anymore

 

Between Acts

 

“I Don’t Give a Hoot!”

Hushed Angry Conversation

 

2nd Bracket

 

Before the Internet

 

All three of these shows were a lot of fun and it was also a great opportunity to catch up with some friends I hadn't seen in quite a while.  I gave myself the challenge to not repeat myself for the staff that worked at the venue and apart from a few repeats between acts in the first bracket I was able to keep up that side of the bargain.  Often it is easier to stick with what you know works in a space but I think that can lead me to lose focus a little.  With some of the distractions I had earlier in the week I wanted to make certain that didn't happen this time and while I know all that material works it was fun to keep on my toes.

A weird week where I started my first two shows slowly before finding form and then finished the week off with a bunch of fun gigs.  I guess it isn't a bad thing to know that sometimes if you don't hit your stride straight up you can still grind out a good night.  When you're younger I guess once the night starts one way it usually stays that way.  Always a positive to learn some new lessons about yourself while still doing your job.  

Having said that no more slow starts please.  Time for this guy to focus a little more at the start, push distractions aside and do my job properly from the outset.

 

Justin Hamilton

2nd of September, 2015

Fitzroy North

2015 Blog 24: The Comedy Store, Free Wil and more. Gigs 147 - 154

Well that might have been the biggest week of gigs I've had this year.

It started off small and relaxed at the Enmore Comedy Club on the Tuesday night.  This was the same room that I performed in during the Sydney Comedy Festival so I felt very comfortable getting back onstage there.  It was a solid line up and I used that gig to play around with an order that I thought I might use as the support act for Wil Anderson on the Friday and Saturday night.  

At the beginning of the set I bounced off some subjects that earlier acts had been talking about. Host Daniel Townes had engaged with an American couple in the front row and since I had some thoughts on what they had talked about I used that as a springboard for my set.

 

4th of August:  Enmore Comedy Club

 

Denver Legalises Pot

Justin Bourne

New Year’s Resolution

Abs or Interesting

Happiness

Gym

“I’m Entitled To My Opinion”

Islamic Writing

Adam Goodes

Bjork CD

Scout Gig

 

I thought the gig was relatively solid but could have been a little better.  I thought the story revolving around Justin Bourne showed some promise and felt like it had developed from the first outing at the Imperial Hotel a few weeks before.  Otherwise it was good to get a handle on how long that set could go in preparation for the big event in the main room at the Enmore Theatre on Friday and Saturday.

The following night consisted of two gigs.  First up I was back at the Comedy Store headlining a fundraising night.  These can be tricky shows as the main reason the majority of the audience has turned up is to support the cause while the show is a bonus.  That means it can be easier to lose the audience or even put some people offside with your language.  It feels more like a corporate gig except they've come to your place of work instead of the other way around.  

This gig was fine though and I kept the set list simple:

 

5th of August:  The Comedy Store

 

Kid at Wedding

20s, 30s, 40s

Hairy Baby

“I Don’t Give a Hoot!”

Hushed Angry Conversation

Glitter in Invitations

Watching Movies Out of Context

People Wearing Your Glasses

Islamic Writing

Spooning

 

When you know a set list comes in on time it is nice to be able to stick to that especially for gigs like this.  I'm happy that the Islamic Writing piece has found a place in this more mainstream set list though.  I did hear someone gasp when I said the punchline though thus justifying my thoughts on how easy it is to offend people at these gigs.  There is nothing offensive about this routine and I know the person was reacting to a word but not the context.  To be honest the word in question isn't offensive by itself so old Gaspy in the audience can get a grip.

From the Comedy Store fellow comic Anne Edmonds and I raced to The Roxbury Hotel where Ray Badran and friends were putting on their first night at the revamped venue.  It was a packed audience and they were 100% focused.  I'm glad we got to perform at these gigs in this order because these were definitely more my people.  I used this as another opportunity to play around with the set list that I thought I might use as support for Wil.

 

The Roxbury Hotel

 

Biker Heckle

Justin Bourne

New Year’s Resolution

Abs or Interesting

Happiness

Gym

Snacks

“I’m Entitled To My Opinion”

Islamic Writing

Adam Goodes

Bjork CD

Scout Gig

 

 

This was a great gig and a fantastic way to finish the night.  In fact I'd say it was this gig that solidified exactly what I was going to do for Wil's support. I took a lot of confidence away from this gig and it allowed me to spend the next two days just refining it in my head.   often find the gigs that I struggle at are the ones where I don't have much of a game plan.  If I know that I'm working towards something or trying a new approach etc for the most part I walk away pretty happy with those gigs.  When I go in and just perform without knowing what I want to achieve (apart from doing my job of course) they're the shows that can get away from me.  The Roxbury definitely worked on the night and then helped me push towards the weekend.

The following night it was back to the Comedy Store and a very straight forward gig.  Another packed audience helped make this a fun night and I decided to let this gig be as loose as possible since the next two nights I was going to go the opposite way with my set lists.  

 

6th of August:  The Comedy Store

 

Biker Heckle

Hurt My Back

Can't Drink Anymore (first half)

Before The Internet

Kravitz Monster

Glitter in Invitations

Spooning

 

This was a lot of fun and I played around with tangents and also a bit of talk regarding the Lenny Kravitz split pants moment that was heard around the world.  If you don't know what I'm talking about click on this link here.

For Friday the 7th and 8th of August I had two gigs each night.  The early shows were support for Wil and his 2015 show "Free Wil".  Since we had performed together in January at the Sydney Opera House I thought there was a definite chance we'd have a large percentage of return punters in the crowd.  What I wanted to do was make certain that I didn't repeat any material from that gig but also use it as an opportunity to build on what I'd achieved that night.  With the confidence from the gig at the Roxbury Hotel this was my set list for the two support spots.

 

7th and 8th of August:  Free Wil

 

 

Biker Heckle

New Year’s Resolution

Abs or Interesting

Happiness

Gym

Snacks

“I’m Entitled To My Opinion”

Islamic Writing

Adam Goodes

Bjork CD

Scout Gig

 

 

The Biker Heckle story is a nice succinct story to help get me started and from there I used a section of material from my 2015 show "Snacks!"  It was incredibly heartening to have the material about Adam Goodes go down so well both nights but as I stated onstage I felt pretty confident that those jokes would go down very well with a Wil Anderson audience.  I'm sure there will be some gigs where people will take offence that I'm on Goodes' side and we'll deal with that when it happens.  On both nights it went down a treat.  

I was lucky enough to see Judith Lucy perform in the same venue the previous week and I made certain that I learned how to use that stage from watching the way Judith used it.  I had a basic idea of the sight lines and the way the lights looked from the audience.  In the Adam Goodes material I point out the hypocrisy of the AFL commentators and as I worked my way from Eddie to Sam I worked my way from left to right of the stage before returning to the middle to deliver the punchline.  I enjoyed Judith's show immensely but I also learned enough to help make my gig more polished.  I think they may have been the best gigs I've had as support for Wil.  His audience has always been generous and I think the gigs at the Opera House and the online support gave me a lot of encouragement to have the sets that I had over those two nights.

Usually when you do two gigs or more in a night you can often finish on a bit of a dud.  You'd think after performing to 1,600 people that going to a sold out 300 seater would be a let down emotionally but luckily for me I was back at the Store.  It might be one of the rare times in my career where you go from one great gig to another great gig within hours of each other. My main concern on both nights was to remember to "introduce" myself to the Store audience. Sometimes when you have a great early gig you can carry that energy onto your next spot but it can be wrong for that audience.  I've found sometimes I've been too comfortable and in the process forgotten to let me second audience know what I'm all about before launching into my set.  I made certain to stomp on the energy of the support spots and start from scratch.  For both nights the set lists were:

 

7th and 8th of August: The Comedy Store

 

20s, 30s, 40s

Hairy Baby

“I Don’t Give a Hoot!”

Hushed Angry Conversation

Glitter in Invitations

People Wearing Your Glasses

Islamic Writing

Spooning

 

Both nights were excellent and the line ups had done excellent work before I arrived.  I hate not being there at the start but there was nothing I could do in this case.  Luckily for me it was a great line up of comics who had done such great work earlier all I had to do was not fuck it up at the end of the night.

I think this might have been the best week of gigs or possibly the most fun week of gigs I've had in Australia all year.  Between this week and the tour of New Zealand I've had a good trot.  Now it is time to launch into season 12 of The Shelf and some extra gigs around town before I turn my attention to working on mainly new material for the rest of the year in preparation for the festival season in 2016.  

 

Justin Hamilton

16th of August, 2015

Fitzroy North

 

 

 

2015 Blog 23: The Comedy Store Gigs 143 - 146

So what is going on up here in Sydney?  There is this yellow orb in the sky that appears to not only light up the city but also provide warmth.  I remember the legend of another orb like this appearing in Melbourne but that feels like such a long time ago...

One of the great perks of this job is the ability to travel away from Melbourne during winter and going somewhere warm to perform.  While Sydney residents might be thinking it is cold I have found it to be on the verge of a tropical paradise compared to the last few weeks of weather in Fitzroy.  I saw yesterday that it snowed in Tasmania and I thoroughly enjoyed looking at pictures of it while wearing a t-shirt in my place in Newtown.

After a month of working on new material and ideas I came up to Sydney with a couple of goals in mind.  One was to touch base with a bunch of friends I haven't seen in a while.  It is good to talk to people you haven't spoken to in recent times just to have new conversations and ideas bouncing back and forth.  You can spend a lot of time with the same people during the winter months of Melbourne because the cold cancels out the desire to make too much effort other than find new ways to stay warm in your place.

My other goal is that I am supporting Wil Anderson this Friday and Saturday at the Enmore Theatre and I wanted to make certain I had a new tight 15 minutes that didn't cross over with the material I performed as the support at the Sydney Opera House gigs.  I'm guessing we'll have some return customers and you don't want to let them down.

With three gigs this week at the Comedy Store I took the opportunity to change the set lists and see what flowed the best.  On the Thursday the set list was:

 

30th of July:  The Comedy Store

 

20s, 30s, 40s

New Year’s Resolution

Abs or Interesting

Happiness

Gym

“I’m Entitled To My Opinion”

Islamic Writing

Kenya West

Bjork CD

Scout Gig

 

This is a fairly tight set that takes material from the middle of this year's show "Snacks!" with a new routine that I only started working on while I was in Adelaide a couple of months ago.  None of this material was worked at the Opera House so I'm guessing this might be the set list I use at the Enmore Theatre.  I think the Kenya West material still needs some work which would make sense considering it is the newest routine.  Still I have four gigs this week before Friday night so it gives me time to work on it a little more.  

On the Friday night show at the Store I threw in a routine that my friend Josh (who runs the show from behind the sound desk) likes and basically worked it out from there:

 

30th of July:  The Comedy Store

 

20s, 30s, 40s

Hairy Baby

Can’t Drink Anymore

Before the Internet

 

The routine "Can't Drink Anymore" is a longer routine and could work pretty well on the night. I'd have to play around with this one though as it is a weird sized routine for a support spot.  All the material around it has been used in the past as support for Wil so I'd be reluctant to bring that out this time.  With the previous night I know that set list has a natural rhythm that I can rely on and it is practically ready to go.  Having said that there are some strong jokes in the drinking material and it is also fun to perform so I'll have a think about that one.

On the Saturday night the audience was pretty feisty.  They were definitely up for it but they also felt like you could lose them at any point.  As the night wore on I kept changing the routines that I thought would work best and right up until I walked out onstage I was chopping and changing my set list.  In the end it was a familiar looking set that you may have seen in the past but it was definitely the right one for the night.

 

1st of August:  The Comedy Store

 

20s, 30s, 40s

Hairy Baby

“I Don’t Give a Hoot!”

Hushed Angry Conversation

Glitter in Invitations

Watching Movies Out of Context

People Wearing Your Glasses

Spooning

 

This was an audience that had already enjoyed ten comedians and had been drinking consistently throughout the night.  It was a gig where I had to keep it sharp and tidy.  Having not performed some of that material for a few weeks it was fun to come back to it.

Apart from the three shows at the Store I also managed to see Steen Raskopoulos perform his show "Character Assassin" and it was a real treat.  I'm not a big fan of audience participation (I'm sure Steen hears this a lot when some people in the industry are about to rave about his work) but what I loved about Steen's show was that he empowered the people that he brought onstage with him.  They were in on the joke and never the punch line.  Steen's gentle performance also masterfully keeps the audience enthralled and the ending to the show was just great.

I also saw Judith Lucy at the Enmore Theatre and as Adam Richard said to me as the lights came up in the theatre, "That was a masterclass".  With her body of work I feel she is the Meryl Streep of comedy in this country.  I know we can all get run over by the hyperbole bus at points in our life but hear me out.  As with Streep there might have been acts that came along and shone brighter for a certain amount of time but when you take into account the body of work Lucy is head and shoulders above everyone. Just as Streep has over time continued to produce amazing work ahead of her peers (Hoffman, Pacino, DeNiro, Walken etc) so has Judith achieved the same result over her peers.  At the end I didn't know whether to be inspired or quit.  

So I've seen two great shows and been a part of three excellent nights.  All of this with the sun out. I'm up here for another week and a half so listen up Melbourne:  I don't mind winter but get your shit together or Sydney might be my new girlfriend with her sunny disposition and vitamin D rich approach to life.

 

Justin Hamilton

4th of August, 2015

Newtown

 

2015 Blog 22: Imperial Hotel and the Local Gigs 138 - 142

Well if you've been living in Melbourne during July you know for a fact that the weather has been bullshit.  I don't mind the cold normally but this weather has had me thinking ridiculous thoughts like, "Maybe living in Port Hedland is actually a good idea?"  

With that in mind I made two decisions to ride out this time of year. I would scale back the gigs just to recharge the batteries and whatever gigs I did say yes to I would do as much new material as possible.  It is easy to let the head slide into hibernation especially coming off the back of the festival season so I figured if I worked on new ideas that would keep my brain ticking over.  I also made the deal with myself that any ideas I came up with might be good enough to be placed in a new show but if they weren't then that was fine too.  It is seven months away before I'd have to unveil a new show so if a routine was good as a once off then that was good enough. There is no pressure to bring out a brand new hour.  

I offered my services to the Imperial Hotel for the month of July and so had a fun time having a residency in the one venue.  Apart from a side step to the Local for one show these were my only stand up gigs for the month. It allowed me to have a week to think of new ideas and let them sit in the back of the head so when it came time to do the shows I could play around with them onstage and see if we had anything.

Here's the set list for the first gig:

 

7th of July:  The Imperial Hotel

 

 

1st Bracket

 

Dawn Fraser Racism

Past Australian Sporting Legends

Kyrigos and Black Face

Ernie Dingo at Marios

Bomb Chucker

Aboriginal Hipster Mistake

 

2nd Bracket

 

Biker Corporate Gig

 

I thought I was pretty clunky this night.  I hadn't worked on a big new routine in a few months and the lesson I learned from this is to keep the ideas simple.  I had a bit too much going on in the opening bracket and while it was fine I could have simplified the whole set and really gotten to the jokes and the point with less baggage.  The good result from this was by chance four nights later I was on "Dirty Laundry Live" and a lot of the stuff I talked about came up in the opening chat.  I felt like I was much better on TV with these topics.

In the second bracket I pulled out a routine that up until last year I had totally dropped from my repertoire.  Since I felt clunky in the first bracket I decided to pull this routine out of the back pocket and do an extended version of the story.  That helped me get my head around how a routine should be a lot easier to digest and focused me for the next few weeks at the Imperial.

The next gig was at the Local in East St Kilda and the set list was:

 

13th of July:  The Local

 

 

1st Bracket

 

Fury at Winter

Selfie/Photos

Kenya West and Adam Goodes

New Years Resolution to Scouts Gig

 

 

2nd Bracket

 

Hushed Angry Conversation

 

This was one of my least favourite gigs of the year.  I've always loved performing at the Local but on this night it was cold, the audience was apathetic and there were three drunk middle aged women in the first bracket who derailed the show to such an extent that producer Janet McLeod had to have them removed.  I also felt like there was a lack of camaraderie with the comics on the bill which was disappointing.  Without spending too much time on this one I am willing to admit that maybe I came out with too much energy up front.  It could possibly have been too much to digest.  Unfortunately I think the three drunk women who didn't realise they'd been dealt with by every comedian in the first half just threw the show for such a loop that there was a weird vibe right until the end.  I kept the start of the second half to a minimum and was glad when it was over.  A disappointing result for a night that I usually enjoy. 

Luckily I was back at the Imperial the following night and this was the set list:

 

14th of July:  The Imperial Hotel

 

 

1st Bracket

 

When I’m Alone

Smashing Things

Vegan Soup Mishap

 

2nd Bracket

 

Mum and Atheism

Mum and Pot

Mum and Porn

 

This felt like the new ideas and routines were moving in the right direction.  I brought out an idea that I had played with briefly before (Smashing Things) and placed it amongst some new ideas. I didn't feel it was quite on the money but the lesson from the previous week had been learned and it was definitely an improvement.  In the second bracket I pulled out some material from 2006-7 that had been a part of the Three Colours Hammo shows.  I had played with these during the 2015 comedy festival season and had forgotten how strong the stories are.  This got me to thinking about some old stories which lead to the following week:

 

21st of July:  The Imperial Hotel

 

1st Bracket

 

Stoner Busted at Security

Jaywalking Bourne

Ex-Girlfriend Unfriended Me As A Friend

Fanning Punching A Shark

Gay Banana Splits

Birds and Bees Don’t Fuck

High School Reunion

Bowie Laughs

 

2nd Bracket

 

Smooth FM

Kid In Rehab

Can’t Drink Anymore

 

For those who might be reading this blog for the first time the reason some of the material is in bold is because it points out which routines are being performed for the first time.  Some of the ideas may have been touched on before but in this format it is brand new.  So my opening was a combination of brand new routines and an old story from 2004.   This was the first week that I really felt back in the swing of things with the new material and I was gladdened for the obvious step forward in quality.  

I had been watching a lot of the new comics talking about subjects I had touched on over ten years ago and was reminded that this is a whole new era of comedy fans.  Going back and finding old stories and revamping them saved them from the comedy limbo that is my hard drive.  Also the perspective on these routines has changed over time and they had new beats, new ideas and new takes.  In many ways they felt like brand new routines.  I am also very happy to find a new way into telling the story of the time I made David Bowie laugh so there is that too.

The final show for the Imperial had the following set list:

 

21st of July:  The Imperial Hotel

 

1st Bracket

 

Hollywood Is Mental

Australian Movie Universe

Kenya West

 

1st Bracket

 

Eddie Vedder and Lost Time

George Clooney and Gravity

Lehmo and the Giant Twistie

 

If you look closely you can see that there was more and more new ideas flowing as the weeks progressed.  In fact there are a bunch of ideas that I never got a chance to follow up as the comedy side of the brain really got into the flow.  I've recorded all four weeks and while I might release them on my podcast "Can You Take This Photo Please?" I'll just sit on it for a while to see if any of these new routines might have a life for next year's festival.  Now it is just a waiting game so I guess we'll see where I'm at later in the year.

Now I'm off to Sydney for two weeks of gigs.  Check out the gig guide for more details.  I had a great time at the Imperial for all of July and think that not only were the audiences great but it was some of the best work I'd seen from some of the local acts as well.  If you head over to the Imperial Comedy Facebook page (right here) you can check out who was on and I can guarantee that everyone came prepared and really knocked it out of the park.  I was really impressed at the acts coming through the scene that are beginning to make their mark.  We're in for a good couple of years with the emerging talent in this country.

 

Justin Hamilton

29th of July, 2015

Fitzroy North

2015 Blog 20:  Adelaide Comedy:  Gigs 125 - 127

The goals that I set before returning to Adelaide was to have fun and see what came of it. I often find bursts of creativity when returning to my hometown but after the relentlessness of the festival season followed by the tour of New Zealand I didn’t want to burden myself with the pressure of having to come up with any new material. If I came up with some ideas that would be great but if I just had fun with the material I was enjoying performing at this point in time then that would be fine too. My first week in Adelaide was indeed a fun week as I played around with some new ideas. I figured the second week would be an excellent opportunity to see where those new ideas might lead. It looked as if some of the routines I’d played with in the previous week might have some legs and I wanted to give them every opportunity to expand into something a little more substantive. I had also returned to Adelaide for Mum’s birthday and we’d enjoyed a delightful day at a great restaurant to start the week. Mum is a force of nature with a strong personality and a wit to match. She had inspired probably my most well received routine from my show “Smash!” and so I decided to explore our relationship a little more onstage as well. Sometimes you can be too close to comedy gold to realise that it is indeed just that but I’d had quite a few people over the past couple of months talk about how funny they thought the dynamic was so I thought it couldn’t hurt to explore that more as well.  

My second week in Adelaide started at the Marion Hotel and continued on the Friday and Saturday at The Rhino Room. It also coincided with the Adelaide Comedy 15th birthday celebrations. I offered to host for a second week so we could place as many locals on the bill as possible to help in the celebrations. It was a great week and started with this set list at the Marion:

Marion Hotel: 3rd of June   

1st Bracket 

Looking Older Than Photos

Blood and Toner

Can’t Drink Anymore

2nd Bracket

Kenya West

Bunta Boys: Popey and Quentin

Machine at Marion

3rd Bracket

Hairy Baby

There is a distinct possibility that if I put on a solo show next year it will be called “Blood and Toner” and the show will revolve around this routine that discusses my love of smashing inanimate objects when I’m furious. A mouse on a computer, a router, printers…mainly printers…they’re all fair go in my world. When I mentioned that “Blood and Toner” might be the name of the show it garnered a good enough laugh from the audience that it may have just solidified it as the number one choice of title. The “Kenya West” material that had been mentioned in passing the previous week gained some momentum as well. It had the beginning of a side note that talked about the Adam Goodes situation from the previous week. Not enough here to win a mention in the set list but by Friday and Saturday it was a major part of the show.  

No show on Thursday still so we go straight to Friday night. A big, packed room that was switched on from the start of the show. This is what the set list looked like:   

Rhino Room: 5th of June 

1st Bracket

Kenya West

Adam Goodes and Racism

Mum: Cold 

Mum: Furious at Little Things

Mum: Computer Blood and Toner

2nd Bracket 

Lehmo and Hoops School Reunion

Can’t Drink Anymore

3rd Bracket

Hairy Baby

A repeat in the third bracket of the previous night as by this stage I had belted out about 50 minutes of material and I like to start the third bracket as punchy as possible. Punchy with material; not punchy Barry Hall style. The “Kenya West” material had really come together and felt like by the end of this set that it was showing some promise of being a complete routine. I tried a lot of material that revolved around my relationship with Mum and it appeared to strike a good chord with the audience. At the beginning of the second I wanted to tell some stories from the past of the Rhino Room and the “Lehmo and Hoops” story is one of my favourites to tell to people that I’m hanging out with. I had been sitting on the “School Reunion” idea for a while and thought it was a good night and time to check it out. It too showed promise.  

My final night at the Rhino Room was the Saturday show. It begins an hour earlier and you can feel the audience be a little sluggish at the beginning. It is amazing how starting a show at7pm can mean you have to work that much harder to get the night going. Whether they’ve just finished dinner or perhaps have skipped dinner to have it after the show, it just always feels like a mild slog to get the night going. Then again it might just be in the minds of the comedians. We do tend to over analyse things and I’m no exception. Heck, I’m writing this blog. That is more than enough proof about my over analysing credentials. For the final show the set list was pretty similar to the previous night:   

Rhino Room: 6th of June   

1st Bracket

“John! I’m Here!” 

Kenya West

Adam Goodes and Racism

Mum: I’m An Only Child

Mum: Furious at Little Things

Mum: Computer Blood and Toner

2nd Bracket

Lehmo and Hoops School Reunion

3rdBracket

Hairy Baby 

I wanted to use the final show to really explore the material again. I had a couple of other pieces that I wanted to try but time was against me and I had already touched on some of those topics the week before so it was for the best that I avoided them. I was disappointed I accidentally left out the material about being in the cold but that probably gave the rest of the routines more room to breathe. Overall it was another great night and I think the talent on show at the Rhino Room and Marion Hotel shows that the Adelaide scene is as healthy as it has ever been. Personally I’m itching to find some time to get onstage with all of my new material and see how much I actually have. I find with new material you can never be too certain if it material that will last a long time or just a routine that will burn brightly then burn out. I didn’t plan on working up too much new on the visit to Adelaide but once again the city has been good to me and inspired a new bunch of ideas. It will be interesting to see how much of the material makes it to next year or if these jokes will inspire a whole bunch of other ideas later in the year.

Justin Hamilton

11th of June, 2015

Horsham

2015 Blog 19:  Adelaide Comedy:  Gigs 122 - 124

I have taken great pleasure in pointing out when friends like Lehmo have been "spotted" in the paper having been low profile enough to avoid these types of moments.  Heck, I was even inLehmo's wedding and the Daily Telegraph only referred to me as one of the groomsmen.  Now it is my turn here in Adelaide and I'm expecting all the perks that come along with a suddenly high profile.  Right?  Right.

The first week in Adelaide for the regular gigs has been an opportunity to play around with material and also see if any new ideas might stick that work in the long term.  I have had fun playing with the material that I have but I also didn't want to put any pressure on myself to pull out a new routine in case nothing really evolved.  It is only a few weeks since the end of the festivals so if a new idea worked on the night and only that night then that would be fine.  I have plenty of time to work on whatever next year's show might be.  There is no reason to be down on myself if it doesn't manifest three weeks after I finished with "Snacks!".

I booked these gigs late in the piece so I could come back home to have some fun. That way I could also knock off two weeks of hosting without having a lot of pressure to produce brand new routines that would suit a headline spot. When you host you can play around with material in bite size pieces that allow you to not have to worry how they might fit in a larger whole.

The first show was at the Marion Hotel.  Alice Fraser was the headliner for the week and it has been gratifying to see her rise from an open mic comedian to be able to headline in a relatively short amount of time.  She's also fun to have around so it made for three relaxed gigs.  In fact it was one routine that Alice continued to encourage me into performing, an ad libbed piece that came from this night.  The set list was:

27th of May:  The Marion Hotel

Bracket One

Mad Max Fury

Mum and Cats

Mum and Mildura

Mum and Gay Porn

Bracket Two:

Dick Tickler

Tripping and Farting

666 at Funeral

Vegemite Chocolate

Bracket Three:

Competition Riff

I had a bit of a rant about some men getting upset about the new Mad Max movie. It was okay but was a bit unfocused.  I didn't really set up the premise well enough and may have left a few people behind with the routine.  It was fine to start a night though and I segued into some new stories about Mum and her cats along with some older material I have only recently discovered how much I enjoy performing.

The second bracket started with me borrowing $2 from Adelaide Comedy producer Craig Egan to actually buy one of those little contraptions you find in men's toilets. As you can see it was the Dick Tickler and it turned out it could provide a lot more material than I expected.  This was the routine that Alice encouraged me to perform whenever I could over the next couple of nights.  To be honest I didn't need much prodding.

There is no Thursday night gig in Adelaide at the moment so it was straight to the Rhino Room on the Friday.  We had a big audience who were up for a good night right from the get go.  The set list was:

29th of May:  The Rhino Room

Bracket One

Bunta Boys

Better The Devil You Know

#Hammo Wins

Bracket Two:

Mum and Cats

Mum and Mildura

Bracket Three:

Mum and Gay Porn

"Wheeler Smash!"

Dick Tingler

Kenya West

The audience was so great on Friday night that I felt comfortable finishing the night with a routine that was just an idea before I walked onstage.  It was a belter of a show and what you would expect from the Rhino Room on a Friday night.

On the Saturday though the audience was a little slower to warm.  It might be because the show is just that little bit earlier that it takes a little longer to get into the flow.  It might be because I opened with some material that was a little confronting as well.  I was pretty incensed by the treatment of Adam Goodes (again!) by the media and the crowds so I opened with quite a bit of a rant about the racism that infects a part of our country. It is difficult to get across to an audience that when you say parts of Australia are racist you're not saying everyone is racist.  It really feels in this country that the worst thing you can brand anyone is a racist.  Forget the fact that racist comments fly left, right and centre only to be justified by parts of the media in the most pathetic of ways.  You can't fix something until you embrace that it is broken.  Bah!  Idiots!

Anyway...I opened with that and then segued into some material that was "audience friendly" because as the host you still have to bring some acts on to a warm stage. I have to point out that after the show I had a lot of people talk to me positively about the opening but I could definitely see some people feeling awkward and confronted about it while I was onstage.  The set list was:

30th of May:  The Rhino Room

Bracket One

Kenya West

Adam Goodes War Dance

Can't Call a White Man Racist?

Viv Richards and the Quack

Mum and Cats

Bracket Two:

Mum and Mildura

Bracket Three:

2015 NYE Resolution

Abs or Happiness?

Gym Work

Snacks Song

“Entitled to My Opinion”

Islamic Writing

Bjork CD

Scout Gig

I deliberately opened the third with material that I knew everyone would enjoy and make certain the night finished as positively as possible.  One of the women in the audience who was a little older and quite clearly not having any of my support of Goodes over good white men remarked loudly at the end of the third set, "Now that was fantastic and what I wanted".  I couldn't help but laugh.

So a good week in Adelaide that is about to begin again.  It is Adelaide Comedy's 15th Birthday so we should have fun celebrating at the Marion Hotel and Rhino Room this week.  Come along if you're around.  I'll leave you with this image I took on Instagram. If I was allowed to write season three of True Detective I would have something terrible happen at this station on this type of day.

Justin Hamilton

3rd of June, 2015

Croydon

2015 Blog 18:  New Zealand Comedy Convoy Week Two:  Gigs 117 - 121

Well it turned out to be another great week.

After having Monday to myself in Auckland (where I took full advantage of everything by working, working, working and immersing myself in the Mad Men finale) it was back on the road the next day as we drove to Kerikeri.  One of the many aspects I've enjoyed of this tour is the willingness of all the acts to change the line up every night. You get a different look at the audience depending on where you're placed in the line up and that means you work different muscles for each performance.  On this night I closed the first half and this was the set list:

19th of May:  Kerikeri

Kid at Wedding

20s, 30s, 40