NEWSFLASH! TWO AND A HALF MEN SCANDAL: CHARLIE SHEEN IS THE HALF!
When I first performed at the Fringe it was back in 1996. I was in a duo called the Bunta Boys and our show “Happy As All Buggery” used video, songs and skits to such great effect that the Adelaide Advertiser gave us a resounding review and a reviewer for DB called Brett Buttfield slagged us off. Many years later I met Brett and he tried to befriend me. I refused. His last name was Buttfield. Even I have standards. Whooshka!
Back then Paul McDermott’s brand new show “Mosh” was taking Adelaide by storm and the Red Square that the Adelaide Festival unveiled turned out to be the greatest place to dance away the night. The whole experience was unlike anything I had ever experienced and like a long lost first love no other Fringe has quite measured up.
GEORGE LUCAS LOVES PRECIOUS: “BEST SPECIAL EFFECTS EVER!”
“Comedians in the Mist” was the name of the show for the 1998 Adelaide Fringe. Once again we performed down at the old Boltz Café, the epicentre for cool events and hot bar staff. The Bunta Boys performed with two Adelaide buddies: David Williams and Alex Collins. A montage of skits that had everything from statements on how to treat gay people according to good natured bogans, how to get into speed reading and a cameo by the Spice Boys, this show was not a darling of the critics but generated enough laughs to make the Fringe enjoyable. This show holds fond memories for a few reasons. It was the final Fringe Show I would do with the Bunta Boys, I was performing with my good friend Dave and Alex Collins would die later that year.
RICK AND LOUIS REUNITE FOR CASBLANCA 2: SURFS UP BITCHES!
The new Millennium rolled into town and now there was a new act in town. That act was Justin Hamilton and he was a solo act. He’d only been a solo act for around six months but his first solo show would reveal where the future would take him. “Screw You Misery, I’m the Karaoke Guy!” received great reviews and packed audiences. Set in a karaoke bar in Amsterdam, stories spilled forth that talked of heartaches and sorrows all the while not being afraid of a good swear word. And when he wandered off the stage with his imaginary sister there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Yep, crying at the end of a comedy show. Marvellous.
BRAD PITT AND GEORGE CLOONEY ADMIT “WE’RE LOVING LIFE!”
“Father Can You Spare A Dime?” was the follow up stand up show to “Screw You Misery…” This was about my one and only meeting with my father…or as I like to call him my “sperm donor”. This was a step into the autobiographical style that was hinted at in the previous show. Once again good reviews and packed houses at the Rhino Room were a fitting send off as after this Fringe I moved to Melbourne. 2002 was the year I said, “Smell ya later Adelaide” and then whispered to those close to me “Don’t worry, I’m just over here.” Ah cheap air travel, how you have changed my life for the better.
TOP GEAR VOTED WORST SHOW BY HEROIN ADDICTS!
In 2004 I returned to Adelaide and the Rhino Room with “Purple Cows” a surreal tale about searching for my long lost first best friend, an imaginary boy called Jeffrey. This was about diving through my history and my childhood looking through my past to make sense of my present. It included my biggest prop since my Bunta Boys days: a giant fold up blackboard where I would draw the very different imaginary worlds of my friends and punters so by the end of the show we could look straight at the imaginary world and know it wasn’t far away. Surreal, poignant and funny, this is still a favourite show of mine to this day. Hmmm, maybe I should update and bring it back? I’ll write that on a post it note and pin it next to the other ideas with titles like, “Slip Away”, “The Joke” and “Goodbye Ruby Tuesday 2”…
MEL GIBSON IS MORE TICS THAN MAN!
“Smash!” was the name of the new show in 2006, the final bi annual Fringe and a big bouncy show to go out on. Returning yet again to the Rhino Room “Smash!” was a…dare I say it? Why not, it’s my blog…a smashing success (thank you, thank you very much) and was the year that people really embraced the Rhino Room as the place to be for comedy. When I first started running comedy at the Rhino Room back in 2001 it was a breeding ground for improvisation acts and despair but after an extensive refurbishing campaign we had re imagined it to be a shiny Mecca for everything you want a comedy venue to be. Soon to be populated by overseas acts ranging from Ross Noble to Rich Hall alongside Australian stars such as Wil Anderson and Greg Fleet, this put the Rhino Room where it always should be and that is riding on top with the breeze in it’s hair and laughter spilling forth down Frome Street.
MERYL STREEP TO PLAY SPACE SHUTTLE CHALLENGER IN “OOOPS!”
Another fun year at the Adelaide Fringe but this time the show goes by the imaginative name of “Justin Hamilton”. Why was there no theme this year? Why a generic name for a show at the Adelaide Fringe? Well, thanks for asking. This was the year that I was about to write my magnum opus/Magnum ice cream, a trilogy of shows entitled collectively “Three Colours Hammo”. Three separate shows performed in successive weeks. You could see one show and it would tell one story but if you saw all three it told one maxi story. The biggest undertaking of my career and one that would premiere at the Melbourne Comedy Festival where it was a recipient of the prestigious Moosehead Award, this meant that the show for Adelaide would be a straight stand up show where I chopped and changed material from all three shows and changed it up each night. This show funnily enough was a huge success and when the Advertiser gave it a three and a half star review, I was told it would have received more except it was only stand up comedy. I learnt two things from this. One: If you’re really good at stand up you make it look so easy that you will never get the justifiable rewards. Two: if you set the bar high then you have to accept criticism when it comes your way.
Either that or I was just being a twat for remembering a review and therefore an opinion. I decided I was being a twat and vowed to never read another review as it had distorted my judgement when everything was going swimmingly well. Until the following year of course…
GOD APPEARS ON OPRAH SQUEALING, “I JUST LOVE YOU!”
Chugging into Adelaide comes the “Three Colours Hammo” trilogy that had in the previous year been performed in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. Now the show that had been whispered about by tens of people was coming to town and friends and foes alike came along to see if I would slip up and really fall flat on my face. Well no chance unbelievers! The first show received a five star review; the second show a four and a half star review and the third a five star review. Good times and great rock and roll! A triumph in every sense of the word…except for two things: that was the Fringe where it reached over 39 degrees for roughly two weeks straight. My room at the Garden of Unearthly Delights managed to get the temperature up a little higher and with a trusty two fans circulating dead air I watched with fear that the older people in the audience may actually die. For my part I managed to sweat so much that I was shiny for a month afterwards and had the clearest skin of my life. I also managed to lose so much weight my trousers would constantly slip down and a couple of hours sleep a night was the best one could hope for.
The other challenge was the show next to my room. It was called the Fly and was set in a metal container where carnie folk would make a lot of noise and pretend to be entertaining. This show was so loud that a deaf woman who was about to cross over to death’s kingdom snapped wide-awake and screamed, “Oh my Lord, the Nazis have found us.” As you can imagine this show (and I use the term lightly) impinged on what I was trying to achieve and only through the sheer power of concentration and bitching over tequila did I survive. Comedy is a fragile beast. It relies on words and an audience paying attention. When you have something nearby that sounds like two robots fucking (And that may have been what was happening in the Fly, I have no idea, I hate carnie folk and try not to let them touch my clean skin) then you are at a disadvantage.
What should have been a wonderful triumph only ended up being a lovely cake at the end of a long meal. Tasty but damn it, I can’t be arsed eating anymore.
THE LOGIES REVEAL HOT GUEST: SOME GAL WHO AUDTIONED FOR GLEE
I took it easy in 2009. No solo show but instead being the regular host at the Rhino Room Late Show while juggling radio jobs back East and interviewing punters and artists for the Adelaide Fringe website. Somehow in a year that I decide to take it easy I somehow still manage to perform in 17 gigs and put on a secret show where my new Melbourne Comedy Festival play “Goodbye Ruby Tuesday” gets it’s first airing. I promise to the sold out crowd we’ll bring it back next year. And it still might appear but not at the Fringe because something else has taken my fancy.
JOHN TRAVOLTA TO EAT QUENTIN TARANTINO TO THE DEATH
So now we arrive in 2010 and a brand new show comes to Adelaide to make it’s debut. “Idiot Man Child” (you can buy tickets here) is an hour of hilarious stand up comedy following what happened last year when I made a new year’s resolution to stop hating people. Turns out that is a pretty hard promise to keep; right up there with “I will lose weight” and “I will stop stealing money from the boss”. Come along to hang out as I celebrate ten Adelaide Fringes spread out from 1996 to now! There will be more announcements to come, we have a very special show in mind but I’ll leave that until a few weeks from now. I know. I really am teasing. I really have learned a lot from watching Lost.
I love returning home to Adelaide and I have the great joy of seeing all the old faces. This is very different to Sydney where every time I visit I find brand new faces on the same old people. The Fringe brings Adelaide alive and if you want to avoid the excesses of football coverage come down and check out a show. It just might change your life if not your mind.
JOHN HOWARD FOUND WEEPING IN PARK AND MAKES MONEY AS A BUSKER!
Just stop drinking and come in. The show is about to start.
February 8th, 2010