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, 40s

Hurt My Back

Hairy Baby

“I Don’t Give a Hoot!”

Hushed Angry Conversation

Glitter in Invitations

People Who Watch Movies Out of Context

People Wearing Your Glasses

“I’m Entitled To My Opinion”

Spooning

It is amazing how much I can't bear the thought of travelling every day for gigs before I take off on tour but once I'm on the tour I can't stand the idea of being stuck in the one place for more than a day.  I get into the groove of whatever it is I'm doing and go from there.  Our next day we had to drive back to Auckland and then fly into Nelson. Another great night and another great gig.  I had changed to opening the second half by this stage and the set list was:

20th of May:  Nelson

Biker Gig

20s, 30s, 40s

Hurt My Back

Hairy Baby

“I Don’t Give a Hoot!”

Hushed Angry Conversation

Tripping and Farting

Glitter In Invitations

People Wearing Your Glasses

Spooning

This was another fun gig with a pretty varied audience ranging in age from young hipsters to cool older people.  Since I have made it a mission to keep our tour manager Felicity entertained by introducing at least one new routine a night it has been fun to go back and throw some older pieces into the set.  It is difficult to make too many changes because if you do you can throw your timing out but one or two routines is easier to manage.

It was a quick drive down to Blenheim and not much changed in the line up for this night. I was on at the top of the second again and pulled out some old material and changed my start around again.

21st of May:  Blenheim

Kid At Cap

20s, 30s, 40s

Hurt My Back

Hairy Baby

“I Don’t Give a Hoot!”

Hushed Angry Conversation

Girl On A Date At The Theatre

Glitter In Invitations

People Wearing Your Glasses

Spooning

It was such a great day that by the time we arrived in Christchurch it gave us enough time for a wander and then it was time for the show.  We performed to over 1,100 people in the Isaac Theatre Royal which was exciting for a number of reasons. Firstly it is always exciting to have an opportunity to perform for stacks of heaps of people.  Secondly Christchurch is the home ofGuy Montgomery so he was in a great position to perform in his home town on the stage he watched other touring acts when he was a young fella. 

Suffice to say this was a monster show and everyone completely nailed it. I was on last so this was the set list:

22nd of May:  Christchurch

Kid At Wedding

20s, 30s, 40s

Hurt My Back

Hairy Baby

“I Don’t Give a Hoot!”

Hushed Angry Conversation

Breaking Up Through History

Glitter In Invitations

People Watching Movies Out of Context

People Wearing Your Glasses

Spooning

An amazing show, a brilliant audience and all the acts on top of their games.  All the audiences have been fantastic but this one was an absolute belter.  It was difficult to get to sleep that night and the next morning was a mildly sluggish one as we head off for our final stop at Invercargill.  It was the bumpiest flight of the tour and the coldest destination so far.

Since this was our last show on the tour we decided to shake things up a little.  To have a little fun Wrigley wrote all of our names down on pieces of paper so he could draw our names out onstage.  That way we never knew when we were on until we heard our names read out.  It was quite surprising how it got the blood pumping at the start of the show and especially when my name was read out first.  I was a little bit all over the place at the start but it was fun to have that sudden surge of adrenalin and then have to conquer it. By the time I settled in it felt like a normal gig but that first five minutes was a nice moment of chaos.  My set list was:

23rd of May:  Invercargill

Partying During the Week

Hen's Night

Mt Isa

Word In Scrabble

Hairy Baby

“I Don’t Give a Hoot!”

Hushed Angry Conversation

Glitter In Invitations

People Watching Movies Out of Context

People Wearing Your Glasses

Spooning

I also began with some really old material so that probably didn't help with the chaos but it was a lot of fun!  The audience were great too and I was not only pleased to finish on a strong set but also I was done very early.  That meant I was able to sit back and enjoy the rest of the show.

It really has been a great two weeks.  I know between these blogs and the podcasts (if you haven't checked any of them you can find interviews with Steve, Nish and Rose right here. There is one more to come with Guy very soon.) I have been raving about this trip but it has been a lot of fun on and off the stage.  I also found it inspiring to see different approaches to the craft from the gang.  Sometimes it was a reminder of how to do things and sometimes it was just a brand new way.  Also as I said before our tour manager Felicity has been one of a kind and we've been very lucky to have her.

I've always enjoyed my trips to New Zealand in the past but I wonder if maybe I should begin making it a more regular trip?  Hopefully I can work something out so I am back here sooner rather than later.

Justin Hamilton

23rd of May, 2015

Invercargill, New Zealand

2015 Blog 17:  New Zealand Comedy Convoy:  Gigs 112 - 116

It is a great pleasure to find yourself somewhere you had no interest in visiting but once you get there you feel a certain level peace of mind that has been missing for a large part of your year.  I'm not talking about New Zealand.  I've been here before and loved it.  No, I'm talking about Hobbiton

The weather here has been overcast and at times aggressively rainy but we lucked out with a perfect day to visit an imaginary place.  I was quite surprised how much I actually enjoyed visiting the location considering I'm not the biggest "Ring" fan around.

It has been a busy and dramatic start to the year with a lot of pressure in all facets of my life.  When I was asked if I'd like to join the New Zealand equivalent of the Melbourne Comedy Festival's Roadshow I said yes immediately without thinking of what else might be going on.  In hindsight I instinctively knew that after four festivals and the ups and downs that come with that lifestyle I would be needing to get away from my home and life for a while. I have long attempted to balance the desire to get away with the hope of stability to moderate success but this time I really felt a need to disappear from my life and in particular the comedy scene.  What better way to do it than with work somewhere else?

I have completely lucked out with the gang I am touring with too.  Our tour manager Felicity is the calm in the storm, getting us from one town to another with minimum fuss. We've collectively agreed that making Felicity laugh is the best reward we receive on this tour.  I don't think I've been on a funnier tour either.  The banter in the van has been hilarious and I've thoroughly enjoyed their acts too.  Wrigley feels like someone I've known for a long time.  Rose reminds me a lot of the excellent comedians I've seen rising up through the Melbourne scene in the past few years.Nish is like one of my old friends from high school that I've just caught up with again and Guy makes me laugh constantly and consistently onstage and off.  It has been a fun tour and I'm rapt that I said yes to this.

Our first gig was in Napier on the 12th of May.  I was told that Napier had a massive earthquake back around the 1920s and when they rebuilt the town they decked it out in a lot of Art Decoarchitecture.  A beautiful town and a good first stop.  The set list was:

Kid at Cap

20s, 30s, 40s

Invite to Parties

Hairy Baby

Before the Internet

NYE Woman

Abs or Interesting

Happiness

Gym

“I’m Entitled To My Opinion”

Scouts Gig

It can be a crunching of gears going from a full hour show to a twenty minute spotlight and I was glad that the red light that lets us know when to finish was so easily seen. The entire gig sped along at such a rate that I had to drop a bunch of routines I had planned for the end.  That is also a good sign the gig is going well.  It is fun taking your routines and moving them out of the show order into a new one for the gig.

The next night we were in Taupo.  Since Felicity has to hear the same material night after night I decided to throw in something new all week so as to entertain her while she sits side of stage.  It is also nice to go and find some material I haven't performed in a while and throw it out there.  This was the set list for the 13th of May:

Kid at Cap

20s, 30s, 40s

Hairy Baby

“I Don’t Give a Hoot!”

Hushed Angry Conversation

NYE Woman

Abs or Interesting

Happiness

Gym

“I’m Entitled To My Opinion”

Sperm Bank Joke

Scouts Gig

Our next gig was in New Plymouth.  We arrived in a fairly heavy shower of rain and when I checked in I discovered an old friend of mine was now living in town.  My friend Lori was on student exchange from Canada back in 1990 when I was full of hope, dreams and hair. She lived down the road from me and we were pretty good pals in our day. Eventually she moved back and we stayed in touch for a while but as you know it can be difficult to stay in touch and we eventually lost contact.  I was very excited and totally blown away to hear that she was in town.

Catching up with Lori and meeting her husband was one of the unexpected highlights of the tour.  

It was also a fun gig so here's the set list for that night:

Kid at Cap

20s, 30s, 40s

Hurt My Back

Hairy Baby

“I Don’t Give a Hoot!”

Hushed Angry Conversation

Fix Your Flaws

So Many Arseholes

Glitter in Invitations

Watching Movies Out of Context

“I’m Entitled To My Opinion”

People Wearing Your Glasses

Spooning

As you can see from this set list I went back into the bank and pulled out some older material I hadn't performed in a while.  With the reaction the Spooning joke received I honestly wonder if I'll ever write a joke that resonates more with people?  It was the favourite joke in Afghanistan, it goes well all around regional Australia and is now the joke all the New Zealanders want to talk about after the gig.  I'm not saying I'm necessarily right or even stating it is my best routine but it does seem to be the one that gets the most consistent attention.

The next night we were in Hamilton and that was a big show that was a lot of fun. I like the big rooms and and enjoy having to perform to a large crowd.  The set list was:

Kid at Cap

20s, 30s, 40s

Hurt My Back

Hairy Baby

“I Don’t Give a Hoot!”

Hushed Angry Conversation

Binge Drinking

"Guido!"

Spooning

I worked out a way to make my binge drinking material from my show "Snacks!" work in New Zealand.  The problem with the routine was there was a reference to "Wogs Out Of Work" and that doesn't travel over here.  I like performing the routine and figured it would go well but I needed to find another reference that would fit in with the time the story took place (1991) and be something universal that the audience would recognise immediately. I couldn't talk about a "Wogs Out Of Work" lookalike competition over here so I have changed it to a "Goodfellas" comp instead.  It doesn't have quite the same hilarity as the Australian reference but since that isn't the punchline I am more than happy to make the change so we can get to the same conclusion.

Our final show for this part of the convoy was at Tauranga and that was another big, fun show.  In fact the shows have been so much fun I know I've been slipping over the 20 minute mark a few times over the last two nights and I need to get on top of that. Sometimes you have to make a decision on which routines you're going to perform and which ones you're going to leave out.  You can't do all of them!  This was the set list:

Boy At Wedding

20s, 30s, 40s

Hurt My Back

Hairy Baby

“I Don’t Give a Hoot!”

Hushed Angry Conversation

Binge Drinking

"Guido!"

Spooning

Another great night.  All the comedians have been fantastic and a really broad range of comedy styles too.  We drove back to Auckland and I was supposed to hang out with the gang at the final party for the New Zealand Comedy Festival.  Unfortunately I had an unexpected 5 hour nap on the lounge in my hotel room and totally missed everything. That might be for the best.  I'm a strong believer in not outstaying your welcome and sometimes it is better to be missed than popping up again.  That might be my mildly paranoid approach to life but with another week ahead of us I figured in hindsight that some time in might be best for everyone.

As I said this has been a great tour and a good chance to get away.  I consider myself quite lucky I've been teamed up with this group and I'm really looking forward to the gigs next week on theSouth Island.

Justin Hamilton

18th of May, 2015

Auckland, New Zealand

2015 Blog 16:  Sydney Comedy Festival:  Gigs 108 - 111

I'm sporting a sweet white pirate patch to help promote Pirate Day Friday which is a national fundraising day for the cure and prevention of Childhood Brain Tumours. My patch was decorated by a young four year old lad (I am writing this from NZ and have left the patch at home so I can't tell you his name.  Sorry!) who is dealing with cancer but took the time to make me look like a dastardly myopic pirate.  Or a lonely colourless Wiggle in a cafe.  It doesn't matter what I look like but please check out the link here for more info on Pirate Day Friday coming up onJune 12th.

For previous readers of this blog you know that I was knocked out of action for nearly two weeks with a bacterial throat infection.  By the time I arrived in Sydney for their comedy festival I had not set foot onstage since the final show in the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.  Unfortunately it wasn't because I was resting.  I've had so many people asking me if I enjoyed the time off.  I wish it had been time off! Instead it was an excellent period of not being able to eat properly, sweating like a ham in a glovebox and losing a fair bit of weight.  (I will freely admit that the last part of this sentence is a plus.)

There was a bit of excitement in feeling behind the eight ball when I arrived for my first gig. It is amazing that I have knocked off over a 100 gigs so far this year but all it takes is being removed from the stage for two weeks and you suddenly are stung with doubt. The thoughts that run through your head:

"How does this show go again?"

"Will I remember my material?"

"When I remove the mic from the stand do I talk into the mic or the stand?"

"How can I get out of this?"

"Why do I perform?"

"I'm hungry."

 To be honest a lot of my thoughts finish with that last statement.  Luckily for me my venue was fantastic and my opening night audience was great.  For the completists the set list from the 7th to the 10th of May was:

 Snacks!

This was a season of two halves.  The Friday and Saturday shows; while fun, were tough. I was going up onstage at 7pm and the traffic to the Enmore is a nightmare so often I was only two thirds full before I was meant to begin.  You can wait a while but if you go over time you throw the rest of the schedule out of whack.  I don't want to be the reason that the 11pm show is running way behind.  It also means that there is distraction in the room when they latecomers finally arrive.  Sometimes you can play with that but sometimes it is better to ignore.  You can't spend the whole show getting people up to speed.

I have to stress both these shows were excellent but they required a lot of work.  I can understand an audience that is feeling tired after racing to the gig, spending time trying to find a park, possibly not having time for a meal or a relaxing drink and then coming in to concentrate on this fast talking fool.  I totally get that.  You just have to keep a steady pace and let the audience give the audience opportunities to catch their breath and relax into it.

 The shows on the Thursday and Sunday were fantastic though.  They were the type of shows you love performing because it almost feels too easy.  Both audiences were up for it and locked in from the word go.  There was a lot of ad libbing in those shows as well.  I was really happy that the Thursday show in particular was a fun show since it was the first show back in a while.  I lucked out there.

So I'm guessing that is the end of the run for "Snacks!"  I'll probably have fun with some of the routines for a while but once I return to Adelaide in mid-May I'll begin playing around with some ideas to see if I have a show in me for next year.  There have been some ideas brewing.  Anyone who saw "The Shelf" may have some insight into where I could go for next year but for now I'll play those cards close to the chest.  In a couple of weeks I'll upload some free versions of the show to my podcast "Can You Take This Photo Please?" so you can check out how it developed.  You can find a link for that here.

Thanks to everyone who came along in Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney. There wasn't one night where I wished I was an accountant so that is a sign that the gigs went well.  It was a fun run and I'll take a bit of time to see where I might go next. I'll leave you with this little story.  On the Friday night I joined some friends to celebrate Tom Gleeson's solo show in the Enmore Theatre.  We drank a lot and sang the first half of Crowded House's debut album into a plastic cup.  I laughed a lot and had a lot of fun with good people.  It was a great reminder of why I love comedy even if the business side can feel like a strain.  Being reminded of your friends and the fun side is how I feel that is how most festival runs should finish.

 

Justin Hamilton

12th of May, 2015

Taupo, New Zealand

2015 BLOG 15: MICF WEEK FOUR: GIGS 101 – 107

Well this blog took a lot longer to come together than I expected.

As you might be aware I was sick right in the middle of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival for just under two weeks.  Once I was feeling better I knew I was operating at about 80% capacity (because I’m secretly a robot) and the only way I was going to feel completely back on track was by having some time off once the festival finished. On the final Sunday I was feeling listless but I put this down to the very natural feeling that most comedians feel at the end of a major festival.

By the Monday though I wasn’t feeling great and then once Tuesday came around I knew I was sick again.  I figured it was a relapse of the cold I had during the festival but by Wednesday I was at the doctor feeling much worst.  It turned out I now had a throat infection but my doctor couldn’t work out whether it was viral or bacterial.  We waited a couple of days and in that time I began coughing up blood so bingo, it was bacterial and it was time to get onto the sweet antibiotics.  I then spent the next week going back and forth between hot sweats, cold shivers and inability to swallow anything that wasn’t called “soup”.

It has been a particularly brutal season for a lot of my comedy super friends with countless people being knocked out with flus, gastro and for all I know Ebolaoutbreaks.  I had experienced a lucky 15 month stretch where I didn’t catch one cold so I can’t complain but it has been a brutal four weeks.  I was lucky that my show was tight and my audiences were great.  It made a tiring time fun when it had no right to be.

The final week was probably the most fun I had as it was by far the best I felt.  From the 14th – 18th of April it was all about the show “Snacks!‘  I had cancelled as much of my extra work as possible so I could concentrate on the show as that was my main priority. By tapering off it meant I was full of beans (energy not gas) for the last shows.

I did have some extra activities for the last Saturday though.  I started off the day with Adam Richard at the Imperial Hotel recording our final live Shelfcast. That was a fun episode and also coincided with my first coffee in two weeks.  When it is released you’ll be able to hear the “zing” in everything I talk about.

I hung about and did a final spot at the “5 on 5 at 5” at the Imperial Hotel as well.  That was an incredibly successful venture and I don’t remember attending any of the gigs where the audience wasn’t full.  I only wish I’d felt better for the middle shows but I had a lot of fun at the final show.  My set list was:

20s, 30s, 40s

Hurt My Back

Invite to Parties

Hairy Baby

“I Don’t Give a Hoot!”

Hushed Angry Conversation

I kept it nice and simple as I just wanted to get in there and do my job.  It was another great gig.  I managed to slip in and finally see Wil Anderson’s latest show (which of course was excellent) and then it was off to my final performance of “Snacks!” at the MICF.  I was lucky enough to have some good friends in the audience for the final show and a couple of friends found me after the show to have a drink.  You’ve seen the picture up the top with Tom and I find this is the best way to finish any season.

All up I thought this season was an incredibly successful one.  There wasn’t one show that I felt lacked a spark even when I found it difficult to get out of bed.  Now that I’m beginning to feel more like myself I can look back at the run and feel pretty positive about the fun I had with my audience.  It makes your job a lot easier when you have good people to perform to.  Now it is off to Sydney next week for the final four shows of “Snacks!” (Click here for details) and then a bit of travel over to New Zealand for their Road Show.  It is annoying that my time off consisted of me stuck in bed but in the end the timing may have been just right.

Justin Hamilton

1st of May, 2015

Fitzroy North

2015 BLOG 14: MICF WEEK THREE: GIGS 91 – 100

On the 9th of April I had what is being referred to as the Codral Show.

I was given an over the counter super strong Codral to take before my show that would blow the rest of my cold out of my system.  What I didn’t know was just how strong it was and with a nice mix of adrenalin it really had me flying.  There were moments I was onstage convinced I was moving at a speed that resembled the old footage we have of Don Bradman:  just a bit too quick and with weird edits.  I let me audience know early on that this had gone down and they appeared to be delighted at this turn of events. Since the show ended up being one of the best for this run I have learned no lessons and I’m convinced this will be the beginning of the end of my career.  All it takes is on super strong Codral to show you how good you can be at stand up and ten years from now I’ll be borrowing money from strangers off the street for just one more hit.

Of course I could be totally wrong.  I was quite clearly out of head during the whole show and I might actually be the last person you should be asking about the gig.  Was the whole ad lib about Sting that funny?  Was the idea that if I’d been a fan of his for the last three decades the show would have contained more yoga and less ha ha a solid one?  On the night I was convinced it was a corker but the following day I wondered if I resembled Cameron Diaz in the first “Charlie’s Angels” movie.  I’ll stick with it being a corker thank you.  Hopefully any punters that were there would be so kind as to not correct me if in fact my entire interpretation was indeed wrong.

I kept it pretty low key on the Friday night as well.  I wanted to keep the focus on the show and once I felt like I was over the cold then I would begin to add more gigs back to the schedule.  Being sick had been a grind and I have felt tired ever since.  By the time the Saturday came about I was ready to test my toes with extra gigs.  First up was the Shelf podcast with Adam Richard and guests Anne Edmonds and Geraldine Hickey. That was a fun afternoon that required very little in the way of heavy lifting.

After the podcast I made an appearance at 5 on 5 at 5 for the Imperial Hotel.  I had been disappointed with my last few spots there but they had also been at the height of my cold so I was determined to make up for it.  The set list was:

 

20s, 30s, 40s

Car Accident

Invite to Parties

Hairy Baby

Bad Date

This was a much better spot and I walked away from the room feeling much happier. Then it was off for another performance of “Snacks!”  This night was another sold out show and it was another fun audience.  I’ve been very lucky that my audiences have been fantastic (especially through the sick shows) and this has allowed the show to continue evolving over the course of the run.

From there I returned to the Imperial Hotel for the Late Show.  I was feeling pretty good and my voice was holding up so here was another opportunity for me to make up for the previous weekend.  The set list was:

Tripping and Farting

Hurt My Back

Mum and Puss

“I Don’t Give a Hoot!”

Hushed Angry Conversation

Sperm Bank Joke

 

A great fun late show that capped the night off nicely.  Then it was straight to bed before I became too cocky and figured I was 100% back to health.  I took it easy the following morning before travelling in for another Shelf podcast with Adam and another spot at 5 on 5 at 5.  The Sunday set list was:

NYE Woman

Abs or Interesting

Happiness!

Islamic Writing

Bjork Album

Scouts Gig

Another spot that was a lot of fun.  I was beginning to feel like I was almost there physically but it appears that the best I can hope for at this point is about 85% full health. From here it will only get right back on track once I have 24 hours of no performing and can fully rest.  That will be enough to get through the rest of the Melbourne Comedy Festival though.

My show “Snacks!” was another fun one on the Sunday night and without getting ahead of myself it has had a pretty good strike rate.  It has been a fun show and I think that has come across with the audiences.

On Monday the 13th it was time for the finale of season 11 of The Shelf.  I had entered this season thinking it might be time to move on and had approached every show as it was possibly going to be the last.  I thought this season has been the best yet and I like the idea of going out on a high.  It was a mammoth show too with this as our line up:

 

Justin Hamilton

Adam Richard

Wil Anderson

Cal Wilson

Dave Anthony

Aunty Donna

Puddles Pity Party

Tegan Higginbotham

Gareth Reynolds

Leigh Qurban

Will Sylvince

Damien Callinan

Josh Earl

Tessa Waters

Ray Badran

Geraldine Hickey

Rohan Desai

Ryan Good

Willie Caldwell
 

That turned out to be a four hour show.  And everyone on the bill killed.  Killed.  It was easily one of the best nights of comedy I’ve been a part of.  I was so proud and exhilarated by everyone who was on the bill just bringing their best to the stage and leaving nothing behind.  I had a very fun opening (for the frequent Shelvers I think we’ll always remember #HammoWins) and just rode the night from there.  In fact the set list for my opening was:

Bunta Boys 

#HammoWins

It was all brand new material locked into an opening that just seemed to connect with an audience that was on board from the word go.  The night ended up being so wonderful that I changed my mind about giving it away.  Life is short and who knows how long I’ll be in a position that I can make shows like The Shelf?  You never know in this industry so while I can keep making a show that is fun and connects with a lot of people I should maintain the course I am already on.  We’ll be back with The Shelf in August and that has appeared to be the best decision yet.

Justin Hamilton

15th of April, 2015

Fitzroy North

 

2015 BLOG 13: MICF WEEK TWO: GIGS 80 – 90

This cold continues to vex me.

I have woken every morning around 6.30am and no matter how much I attempt to return to sleep the coughing and spluttering dooms all attempts at returning to a peaceful slumber.  I managed to avoid catching a cold last year and when I began to feel the tickle of something in the back of my throat last Wednesday I knew it wasn’t good.  Since then I have hit the worst of it and now I’m hopefully dragging myself back to full health.  Yet every time I have a moment that feels like I’m just about there I have a morning like the one I endured today that reminds me I could easily slip back if I’m not careful.  I don’t want to get political but I’m not afraid to say having a cold sucks dog’s balls.

Last Friday the 3rd of April I had three gigs.  At this point I thought I could barrel through it as I downed vitamin tables washed down with peppermint tea, lemon and Manuka honey.  I also had a gargle and a cough syrup ready to go so why wouldn’t I be able to totally nail this?

I started the day at the Imperial Hotel where Adam Richard and I recorded a podcast for The Shelf with guest Josh Earl.  It was a fun start to the day and Josh is delightful and hilarious at the best of times but on this day he was dialled up to 100% Josh Earl. (Not to be confused with 100% Geraldine Hickey as “Can You Take This Photo Please?” fans might do.)  Then I hung around to perform a short spot at the 5 on 5 at 5 gig at the Imperial.  My set list was:

Kid at Wedding

20s, 30s, 40s

Breaking Up Through History

Invite to Parties

Hairy Baby

Before the Internet

 

 

While the gig was a good one I lost track of how long I had been onstage and ended up doing way too long.  This should have been a sign that I wasn’t completely up to scratch as I’m usually pretty good with this type of thing but I lost all sense of time with the spot.  By the time I arrived to do my show that night (Snacks!) I was feeling a little worst for wear and returned home straight after my show to try and bet this cold.

On the Saturday the 4th of April it was another action packed day with four gigs. The Shelf podcast was just Adam and I holding court and while I think Adam was in fine form I was finding it difficult to maintain a level of concentration throughout the recording.  Then it was time for another spot at 5 on 5 at 5 with this being the following set list:

20s, 30s, 40s

Hurt My Back

Invite to Parties

Hairy Baby

“I Don’t Give a Hoot!”

Hushed Angry Conversation

This was a much better performance from me time wise but my voice really began to give out.  It was a strain to get through the spot and I was relieved when it was over.  I had dinner with a good friend after that and then it was off to my show “Snacks!” which felt like hard work.  My audience was fantastic.  They were quite understanding of my situation and gave me a lot of good energy on the stage.  I am very lucky to have a loyal and supportive audience.  They might not be the biggest audience at the festivals but they’re invested and that is all I can ask.

After the show I was back at the Imperial where I performed at the Late Show.  By this time I knew it was a mistake and my spot was lacking the energy I need to perform. I found it difficult to concentrate throughout my spot and the set list ended up being:

“Grains!”

Mum and Cat

Mum and Mildura

Mum and Gay Porn

I was pretty disappointed with this spot and by this stage knew that I was going to have to shut it down a little over the next few days. I hate cancelling gigs as it feels like I am letting people down but once I know I can’t deliver the goods it is better to pull back.  Also the priority for the festival is the solo show and The Shelf so I had to be smart.  I pulled the plug on appearing at any extra shows and on the Sundaystayed in bed all day.  I left the house to perform “Snacks!” to another fantastic audience (Over the weekend I had three sold out shows and the energy they gave me really helped me get over the line) and then returned to bed within an hour of finishing up.

Monday was fairly traumatic day as I dealt physically and mentally with some horrible stuff. I felt anxious for most of the day and had trouble thinking straight.  I had The Shelf that night and was attempting to prepare some new material mixed in with some old for the opening.  I had conversations with people where I felt I could break down at any point and other conversations where I felt quite manic.  I tried to stay in bed for as long as I could and then it was time to go in and get the show on the road.

A packed audience at The Toff in Town heated up the room and there were times when I felt like I might pass out on stage.  My goal for the night was to keep things moving along and know when to take a backseat to the proceedings so I didn’t hold the show back.  My opening was not too bad all things considered.  I didn’t feel like I quite nailed it the way I wanted to but taking into consideration how I felt I thought it came together pretty well. The set list was:

 

Reclaim Australia Rally

Militant Kangaroos

Pauline Hanson and Eskimo Racism

Entitled to My Opinion

Indian Man in Marios

Bomb Chucker

Hispanic at the Disco

Aboriginal Lawyer

As you know in this blog the anything in bold in the set list is something that has been said for the very first time onstage.  The rest of the opening was made up of some stories I had told in the past with some updates and/or extra jokes.  The night was a belter and I really feel in the past three seasons The Shelf has become the show that I always hoped I would be a part of.  I’ve always loved it but it has really begun to hit a level that is what I would hope is of the highest standard.

Then Tuesday and Wednesday it was back to performing “Snacks!” and nothing else. Both nights have been the quietest nights of the festival for me.  This is not a slight on the audiences but more in contrast with the previous shows.  We’re in the middle of the festival though so it is exactly the time that this begins to happen.  Last night I explained to my audience the concept of “Suicide Wednesday” which is the dreaded middle Wednesday of the festival.  You no longer have the energy you have when you begin and the finishing line is so far away.  My crowd last night seemed to enjoy that as an idea especially when I told them it was all on them to help me through this.  They dug in and so did I.

I’m loving performing this show.  It has been a fun ride and it zooms along at a quick pace. That is why it is so frustrating to be ill while at the same time.  I’ll leave you with this photo below.  Some of us have been asked to take a photo for Pirate Day Friday. You can learn more about that here.  Claire Hooper went one better than taking a photo.  She had the whole audience at The Shelf on Monday take part in this.  I took the photo and I love the spirit that you can see in our wonderful audience joining in.

Justin Hamilton

9th of April, 2015

Fitzroy North

 

2015 Blog 12:  MICF Week One:  Gigs 62 - 79

As I write this I have to inform you I have the plague.

Well probably not the plague but for the first time in a long time I've caught some dreaded bug that is floating around and I'm struggling to get the motivation to stand up let alone perform stand up.  These things happen and I've been lucky enough to avoid being sick for a while let alone during a festival so you just have to suck it up and move forward.

There is the possibility that I'm sick because of my torrid start to the 2015 Melbourne International Comedy Festival.  We should just jump straight into it before I begin sneezing all over my keyboard and you're computer won't open this page because of some terrible virus.  So let us begin with the opening night on the 26th of March.  The shows that night were:

Snacks!

"Can You Take This Photo Please?" Live with Tony Martin

 The Imperial Late Show

 In Love With Our Phones

"Grains!"

My Grandmother Was Short

Girl On a Date At The Theatre

 I deliberately didn't refer to any notes before I started my show as I wanted to see how much I would remember after back to back seasons at the Adelaide Fringe and Perth's "Fringeworld".  I was quite prepared for there to be a few little mistakes especially if those mistakes lead to me finding some new jokes in the show.  I had found the show had become a little slick towards the end of the Adelaide Fringe run and I wanted to find new spaces and gaps in the routines to ad lib new ideas or approaches.  I was pleasantly surprised to discover that there weren't any real mistakes (Possibly my timing was mildly off on a few lines but nothing the audience would have noticed) and I did indeed find new ways into the routines that helped give the show a nice energy.

When Angela Thompson (who produces the excellent regular comedy night and festivals at the Imperial Hotel) offered me a 10.15pm time slot over three nights to do whatever I wanted with I thought it was an excellent opportunity to try a live version of my podcast "Can You Take This Photo Please?"  It was a tight turn around with the time slot only vacating itself at the last minute so I decided rather than promoting it properly I would only mention it on my podcast and leave it open to the true believers. I didn't charge for the show with only a jug at the door for any donations anyone felt like leaving. It turned out to be a fantastic idea as our room was packed with a great crowd and Tony gave us a brilliant hour of stories and ideas that only Tony can give you.  If you missed out on hearing that podcast you can find it here.

I then hung around and used the Imperial Hotel as an opportunity to work on some new ideas and also resurrect an old routine that doesn't get much of a whirl these days. In fact it was always a routine where the journey was better than the final line and I was chuffed to discover a new punchline that worked better than ever at the end of the story.  Not bad after it was debuted 10 years ago!  Just goes to show that a routine can always improve, always move forward and you are constantly learning.

Next up was Friday the 27th of March.  Here are the gigs and set lists from that night:

Snacks!

"Can You Take This Photo Please?" Live with Geraldine Hickey and Wil Anderson

The Imperial Late Show

Mum and cats

Mum and Mildura

Mum and Gay Porn

Another strong night for the solo show with a sold out crowd and a continued evolution with the show.  It is beginning to feel stronger in Melbourne than anywhere else and I think it is a combination of having twenty odd performances under my belt along with the fact I'm performing in a room that can focus and isn't dealing with noise bleed.  I loved my rooms in Adelaide and Perth but they were basically tents with carnival rides and loud burlesque shows nearby.  With total focus the shows have taken a step up.

Another fun podcast recording with Geraldine Hickey being 100% Geraldine and Wil joining us halfway through the show.  I would be remiss to point out that Adam Richard did all the recording and became a part of the show as the disembodied voice behind the curtain; a cross between the Wizard of Oz and John Blackman.  A very funny show. I'll release that one some time next week.

Then it was over to the Late Show where I played around with some old and new material. It is nice when you discover that a bunch of routines can come together to form a new "bit" and some of those routines harken back to the "Three Colours Hammo" series of 2007.

The 28th of March was a big day.  The set list and shows were as follows:

"The Shelf Podcast" starring the Little Dum Dum Club

5 on 5 at 5

Mum and Her Cat

20s-40s

2015 NYE Resolution

Abs or Interesting

Happiness

“I’m Entitled to My Opinion”

Islamic Writing

Bjork Album

Scouts

Snacks!

"Can You Take This Photo Please?" Live with Cal Wilson and Wil Anderson

The Imperial Late Show

Biker Gig

20s-40s

Car Crash in Adelaide

Invite to Parties

Hairy Baby

“I Don’t Give a Hoot!”

Hushed Angry Conversation

Sperm Bank Joke

A long day that was fun until the end of the night.  We had our first live "Shelfcast" with guests Tommy Dassalo and Karl Chandler who make up the Little Dum Dum Club podcast. This was an idea that came from Adam Richard and it made for a fun and relaxed start to the day with all who were involved having a lot of fun.

Then I hung around to perform a set at 5 on 5 at 5 which is a showcase of established acts and newcomers performing at the Imperial Hotel.  I initially wanted to work on some new material but the show appeared to need some punchy material so I inserted a small section of my show and performed that instead.

My show was another sell out and a great audience to boot.  The live podcast recording was also another cracker with Cal Wilson a stand out and Wil, Adam and I being our usual idiot selves.  Then it was time for the Late Show where early on there were some boorish hecklers that derailed the beginning of the show.  These things happen now and again but it is no less irritating.  We don't really have the heckler environment out in Australia and I think when it does rear up most comedians just can't be arsed dealing with it.  It was definitely dealt with on the night but when you get to your fifth show of the night you really just want to nail your gig and then go home.  Still a good show in the end though.

Another long day on the 29th with the following:

"The Shelf Podcast" starring Tegan Higginbotham

5 on 5 at 5

Mum and Her Cat

20s-40s

2015 NYE Resolution

Abs or Interesting

Happiness

“I’m Entitled to My Opinion”

Islamic Writing

Bjork Album

Scouts

Snacks!

I felt like this was my first flat out gig of the Festival.  The Shelf podcast with Tegan was great and "Snacks!" continued it's winning form but my spot at the showcase was slightly down on energy and I have to admit I was distracted by a sense of fatigue. Admittedly the audience felt a bit "Sunday arvo" but I wasn't entirely happy with my choice of material or performance level.  These things happen and you can't do anything about it but your best on the day.  It was fine but not one I will reminisce about at the end of the festival.

That brings us to the Monday, the 30th of March.  It was time to put together the first show for The Shelf and it was a big one.  Our guest included Andy Zaltzman, Ray Badran, Alex Edelman, Tegan Higginbotham, Wil Anderson, Puddles Pity Party, Adam Rozenbachs,Claire Hooper, Dave Anthony, Rhys Nicholson, Gen Fricker, Aunty Donna, Adam Richard and this idiot.  My opening set list was:

"Grains!"

My Grandmother Was Short

Australia Wins the Cricket

Meeting Viv Richards

Mum and her cats

Playing Basketball in Mildura

My opening was combination of old and new material that came together quite nicely to make a solid opening to the show.  In fact I would say that night was one of the best shows we've put on at The Shelf with every act bringing something new and interesting to the night.  Every act was in fine form and even though it ran over (as if that is something new at The Shelf!) it never felt like it was stretching on too long. Our loyal audience was still close to full at the end of the night (I never begrudge anyone who after two hours says "Enough!" and makes a dash for it) and when Puddles Pity Party finished the show with a stirring rendition of "Dancing Queen" it capped the night perfectly.

Then from Tuesday to Thursday it was only one show a night which of course was:

Snacks!

It is now 9.10am on a Friday morning which means there is an Easter long weekend to deal with.  I'm feeling pretty bleaugh at the moment but I'm hoping that is more due to the lack of sleep and early morning start than the fact that I am sick.  It is really annoying. There is nothing worst than performing onstage wondering if you'll get to the punchline before your nose possibly runs but what are you going to do?  Hopefully the stacks of drugs and Manuka Honey I'm downing will make a difference as I ease into this second week of the Melbourne Comedy Festival.

 

Justin Hamilton

3rd of April, 2015

Fitzroy North

2015 Blog 11:  Gigs 60 - 61 Public Bar and Imperial Comedy

A small blog to keep you up to date before we hit the marathon that is the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

I had such a brilliant time in Adelaide at the Fringe Festival but toward the end of my run I was beginning to feel that the show was becoming "too locked in".  What I mean by that was it starting to lack the early improvisation that made the first part of the run so much fun.  I've approached this season unlike any other and have completely eschewed any script writing.  Normally I have a 50-50 regime of working material out onstage and writing at home but this show has been 100% worked out on the stage. By putting aside the writing of any scripts it has allowed the show to breathe and grow in ways that have felt totally organic.  In short it has been fun.

When I realised the show was beginning to fit together a little too seamlessly I decided when I returned to Melbourne I would ignore the show completely until opening night. I had also decided to avoid all gigs and was quite excited by the idea of hitting opening night with the show barely outlined in my memory.  I figured that if I went in with some gaps in my memory I might find some new ideas on the stage that would give the show a new energy.

I returned to Melbourne on the Monday and by the next Saturday I was enjoying my time away from the stage.  I received a request from my friend Steele Saunders letting me know that a spot had popped up at his excellent room at the Public Bar and would I be interested in filling it.  I love performing in that room a lot and it was a great line up so I said yes.  A packed room that was there to see such great acts like Fleety, Adam Richard, Claire Hooper, Daniel Connell and Alasdair Tremblay-Birchall and it was a great gig to blow out some cobwebs.  My set list was:

Mum's Cat

2015 NYE Resolution

Abs or Happiness?

Gym Work

Snacks Song

"Entitled to My Opinion"

Islamic Writing

Bjork CD

Scout Gig

On the Tuesday night I was hosting a mega line up at the Imperial Hotel.  It was full of local acts and overseas performers who were trying out material they would use in the Gala the following night.  This meant this show ended up being very much a mini Gala in itself but much more affordable and actually more fun.  Yes, I'm saying this mini Gala was better than any Gala you could see because it is a real gig and not something that is designed for people sitting at home.  Stand up is always better in person, right?  Right.

This is the line up for the show:  Sara Pascoe, Mike Wilmot, Tommy Dassalo, Catherine Ryan, Dane Baptiste, CJ Delling, Dil Jayasinha, Adam Hills, Adam Richard, Corey White, Greg Behrendt, Victoria Healy, Phil Wang, Wyatt Cenac, Katerina Vrana, Milton Jones and Alex Edelman.  Since it was such a long night I had to do my best to keep it tight so I went with the following:

First Bracket

Mum's Cat

2015 NYE Resolution

Abs or Happiness?

Gym Work

Snacks Song

"Entitled to My Opinion"

Islamic Writing

Bjork CD

Scout Gig

Second Bracket

I Can't Drink Anymore

Before the Internet

Guido

I also managed to throw in a very small new routine (possibly more of a joke at the moment than a routine) between two acts that is for the moment entitled "Grains!" It was a brilliant night at the Imperial Hotel that I predict after this festival will be known throughout Melbourneas one of the premier rooms for not only comedy but fantastic nights where you can see the new acts rubbing shoulders with the established comics. Personally the highlight of the night was seeing people like Dil, Corey, Tommy, CJ and Victoria not only sharing a stage with some great overseas acts but also doing more than holding their own.

Two great gigs to get slowly back into shape before the grind of the MICF really kicks in.

 

Justin Hamilton

29th of March, 2015

Fitzroy North

2015 Blog 10:  Gigs 48 - 59 Adelaide Fringe

On that Saturday night a bunch of comedians put aside a spare seat to honour Karen Hyland. Karen along with her husband David attended so many comedy shows over the past few decades that their knowledge of the Australian stand up scene would put many of us in the business to shame.  They attended the big shows and the little shows.  They checked out the well known comedians and the little known comedians. They enjoyed stand up, sketches, musical and absurdist comedy.  They never judged an act on anything other than whether the person was putting in a good effort.  It didn't matter if the jokes weren't really to their liking or the comedian had a bad gig. As long as they gave 100% effort they were happy to go along for the ride.

During the Fringe Karen died due to complications that arose from the cancer that invaded her body.  Most of us in the industry didn't know Karen was sick because as she said, "She didn't want to ruin anyone's Fringe experience."  This is a prime example of Karen.  Always thinking about other people.  One of the pleasures of returning to my hometown of Adelaide was the knowledge that at some point I would see Karen and David because you could guarantee they would attend at least one of the gigs.  In fact it is because of people like theHylands that every time I return to the Rhino Room on a Friday night I always try to put together a set list that is a unique one off.  I like to think of them as mini shows.  They're usually mixes of new and old material.  When I return home I want to impress everyone at theRhino Room to show them that they're faith in me won't go unrewarded.

I wanted to impress people like Karen and David.  I wanted to reward them with an attempt at something special every time they were in the audience.

With all the politics that surrounds our industry it is easy to forget why we do this.  I'll be honest with you:  I hate the politics.  Hate it.  It ruins the fun.  It ruins the special moments.  It ruins the triumphs.  That poison surges through the veins of most comedians even if they don't admit to it.  Maybe they're just unaware that it is even there?  The fundamental reason I got into this business is because it makes me happy to make people laugh.  I've felt that all my life, well before I even thought of setting foot onstage.  I like people laughing and I get a lot of happiness knowing it was because of me.  It doesn't have to always be me making people laugh but I like knowing it is my work some of the time. People like Karen and David represent the reason I do this.  It is important for me to remember that when all the bullshit bubbles up in the background.

Now that Karen is gone I feel the trips back to Adelaide will be diminished ever so slightly. At first it will be almost imperceptible.  I'm guessing my first gigs back in South Australia will go to plan like they normally do.  Yet I know it will be in a moment when I realise that an audience's laughter is missing a distinctive cackle.  I'll feel it when I look into the audience and there will be an empty chair.  I'll know it when I finally have an opportunity to see David again.  I also know that when I return to the Rhino Room for one of those Friday gigs, that I'll still be doing my best to impress the old friends.  I'll be trying to impress the new friends.  I'll want my audience to be having a great time.  And even when they're having a great time deep down I'll still be trying to give Karen a special one off performance on the night because she deserves it.

The final five days were hectic even if it started simply on the Wednesday night.  A simple set list that night as it was just the show:

Snacks

The Thursday night wasn't too crazy either.  I hosted the Bank SA free gig at the Bandstand at 5pm but there was no material to talk about for that gig.  All of the gigs I did for the Bandstand were straight hosting jobs.  So from March 12th - 15th you can literally say the set list was nothing more than:

Bandstand

So that Thursday night the set list was just the show:

Snacks

On the Friday I had a Bandstand gig at 5pm and then I was off to the Adelaide Oval for a corporate gig.  Normally corporate gigs can be a little on the tough side but this was a corker.  Great audience who were up for an idiot turning up and cranking out 20 mins of comedy.  The set list was:

Hen's Night

20s, 30s, 40s

Before the Internet

NYE 2015

Snack Song

Entitled To My Opinion

Speaks Islamic

Bjork CD

"I Don't Give a Hoot!"

Hushed Angry Conversation

Scouts

This is almost the same order of material from about the halfway mark of "Snacks!" with a couple of extra routines from previous shows slotted in around it.  After a great gig there it was off to perform my solo show which funnily enough was the hardest gig of the run.  For whatever reason they just weren't a very loud audience and it took a lot of cajoling for them to step up.  I don't think it was my performance.  Some times you can be so fired up from a previous gig that you can almost come in too hard at the start of your show for an audience who haven't warmed up yet.  I just think they were having fun but forgetting to let me know with their faces and lungs.  It wasn't a bad gig but it was definitely the least enjoyable.

From my gig it was off to the Late Show where I was hosting.  My set list was:

Country Spiders

Hen's Night

Mount Isa

Word In Scrabble

Invite to Parties

Hairy Baby

"I Don't Give a Hoot!"

Hushed Angry Conversation

Another fun late show and a great end to the night.  There was a 13-year-old lad in the audience who was sitting in the front row and I managed to take this photo of Peter Helliar meeting the young fella before he nailed it in his headline spot.

The following day it was a similar set up.  Bandstand at 5pm, Snacks at 9.30pm and then the Late Show at 11pm.  I was hosting again and the set list was:

Hen's Night

Mount Isa

Word In Scrabble

Invite to Parties

Hairy Baby

"I Don't Give a Hoot!"

Hushed Angry Conversation

Not much deviation from the previous night as it was getting to the end of the run in Adelaide and I was starting to feel tired.  At this point you just want to stick with what you know and do your best within that.  Heck, it was so close to being like the previous night that this time we had a 12-year-old girl in the front row.

From this Late Show it was off to the closing night of the Rhino Room.  I decided to tell a story that I knew Karen enjoyed and I hadn't told for a while.  My set list was:

The Acid Story

To be honest I didn't feel it at the Rhino Room that night.  It just wasn't for me and I don't know if it was because it was late, I was tired, I was a little drunk, I was thinking about Karen or all of the above.  I didn't enjoy my set that much and when I brought Wil onstage I wasn't feeling the buzz that I normally feel when I share a stage with a friend. One of the good things about getting older is having the experience to know you've done your job and there is no more that is required.  So at one point while Wil was talking I figured that was enough from me for the night and walked off the stage (I knew Wil would be fine and someone would jump up to fill my spot.  In fact I could see some of the comedians champing at the bit to get onstage), grabbed my bag, walked downstairs, jumped in a cab and was home before the show had finished.

Possibly my greatest exit.

The final night of the Fringe was for the last time Bandstand at 5pm and then my final show at 9.30pm.  Great final night audience and I'd say the whole run was a lot of fun. I thoroughly enjoyed my time back in Adelaide and enjoyed the new energy that pulsates through the streets of the city.  Tiny bars, cool cafes, a genuine sense of get up and go were all evident in my hometown and I found it all to be rather intoxicating.

I've now had a week away from comedy and slowly preparing to do it all again for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.  Here's hoping the MICF can live up to the high standard Adelaide and Perth have already set.

 

Justin Hamilton

Fitzroy North

23rd of March, 2015