I love Dave Grant.
For those of you who don’t know him (and to paraphrase Mr T I say to you “I pity the fool who doesn’t know Dave”) Dave is one of the best stand up comedians this country has produced. He may not be a big name but he is the guy that can go into any room and absolutely kill. Not do well. Not get a few titters. Absolutely kill. Every time. Watching Dave walk onto the stage is the equivalent of giving the basketball to Kobe at the end of a game…no matter what happened before you know that you’re now going to walk away with a win.
When I first started coming to Melbourne to do gigs I would see Dave turn up, dressed in black with his silver hair and body builder body and wonder if this guy was here to crack some jokes or to take an unsuspecting heckler out the back to his final fate. Since I’m a guy who is barely tall enough to qualify as a real man, Dave came across as Mount Rushmore turning up to a gig. So there he would be, casting his shadow over the room and the first thing you notice is the way he is taking in everything. The lights. The shape of the room. The seating arrangements. Then he takes in all the punters and quickly with Terminator like precision he has picked out the trouble makers, the couple on their first date, the nervous lady at the front, the loud drunk guy having the time of his life and that isn’t including the people working at the gig. Within the chaos of his surroundings Dave has just reduced the gig to a comedic equations that will allow him to navigate through the night and leave everyone without a doubt they have just seen something special.
When you meet Dave for the first time he gives you a solid handshake; a man’s handshake. Firm yet not attempting to crush your fingers into one big finger. He looks you in the eyes and takes in everything you have to say. He is generous with his time and after you have performed he has watched you and evaluated your standing.
“Good work kid. You went up there, took out both guns and unloaded all the clips into the audience until they were empty. And you came in at 9 minutes and 10 seconds. Excellent work brother,” he’d say to me about my 10 minute spot.
Dave is a purist when it comes to stand up comedy. He likes an act that does what it is booked for. If you’re booked for ten minutes, do ten minutes and do your best. If you’re hosting keep the night rolling and make sure you’ve set the table for everyone who is coming on. If you’re the feature do your best to make certain that when everyone leaves they’ve had the best time you can possibly provide. And he loves seeing comedians do well and will be the first person pumping your hand with encouragement at the end of a show.
I have so many Dave stories. My first ever run of gigs in Sydney we were performing in a lot of new rooms, rooms that had only been operating for a few weeks. Every gig we arrived at Dave would look around the room and size up what was wrong with the set up. He would close the door, not let any punters in and we would rearrange until it was set up just right. We moved chairs, tables, pot plants, lights…if it needed to be moved we moved it. And every time the gig would be better for it. I have kept that work ethic when it comes to rooms because I learnt it from Dave and he was always right.
I feel every new comedian should tour with Dave. When I perform with these guys and gals who have no idea how to keep to time, who chew up the energy in a room because they’re too arrogant or selfish to realise what they’re doing, I wish Dave was there up the back, timing them so he could let them know where they were going wrong. I am 37 now and I still get a kick any time Dave sees me perform. I’ll get off stage and he’ll be standing there looking at his watch.
“37 minutes as the feature tonight, you really tore it apart brother and didn’t outstay your welcome. You got up there, you fired off every weapon you had and when they thought you were done you brought it home with a grenade no one was expecting. Great work Justin.”
And I feel pride swell in my chest. I just impressed Dave Grant! Fuck yeah!
Dave should be better known than he is. He is well known and loved throughout the country but he should be huge. Sometimes it isn’t about talent, it is about luck, timing. Some of these young acts should realise when they think they’re reinventing comedy that if it wasn’t for people like Dave laying the groundwork they wouldn’t have the opportunities they have today to showcase their jokes that have lead to them achieving a level of fame. Yet just because you may appear on TV or on the radio it doesn’t mean they’re more successful. Dave is the most successful comedian in the country because he has something so much more important than all of that other malarkey. He has respect. He has affection. He has love. In the end, when you’re sitting in your room alone and there are no lights shining on you and no one bowing down before your so called genius, when all you have is yourself and your memories and feelings, that is the true mark of a life and Dave is an absolute winner.
Dave is sick at the moment. He has cancer. It isn’t fair but when is it ever fair? The man who has told us through his comedy to be aware of your body, to look after yourself and especially if you’re a man don’t be a pussy and think you’re indestructible, has to deal with this nasty disease. Comedians all over the country have rallied to the cause to raise money; to help Dave beat this thing so he can continue being the partner, father and man he is today. If anyone can beat this it is Dave. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets it in headlock and really gives it a piece of his mind.
“Listen here cancer, you came into my body, you outstayed your welcome. We flashed the light at 6 months telling you it was time to get off stage but you kept going. You didn’t set up the room correctly and you disappointed the show by taking me out of it for too long. No more gigs for you soldier, I’ll take it from here.” And with that cancer would be banned not just from gigs but also from ever hanging out with any of us again.
I spoke to Dave yesterday. He was going in for some more chemo. He is losing his hair.
“Not the hair Dave,” I exclaimed.
“I know brother,” Dave replied. Dave has great hair. Now I’m really angry at this thing.
We chat and Dave tells me he is overwhelmed at how much support he has received. He is tells me to look after my immune system…still looking out for the little guy even now! He talks about what is coming up and all I want to do is tell him I have a gig that needs a great comedian to walk in and blow everyone away and I couldn’t think of anyone who would be more than up for the job. But not today, there will be plenty of time when he beats this thing and we’re all sitting around after the gig marvelling at how only Dave could have made a tough night successful in the end.
Dave and I chat for a little while longer and then he has to go. I wish him luck and promise I will speak to him soon. And when I hang up the phone I don’t feel sad, I feel inspired. I feel love. And he has still been making me laugh. Even when he is hurting and losing his fantastic hair he is still making with the ha ha and making me feel good about life.
That is why Dave is a success.
A great comedian.
A loving partner.
A dedicated father.
A great man.
November 20th, 2009
I love Dave Grant.