Circular: Inspiration

A common question posed to comedians is, “Where do you get your ideas?”  This is usually asked on a breakfast radio show that gives you roughly thirty seconds to respond before they make a joke that isn’t funny and then throw to Keisha or the Kings of Leon.  The question is too broad for this small window of opportunity and it is better to lie than try to be honest.  Besides, people driving to work really only want to know where the speed cameras are, what the weather is going to be and has Charlie Sheen necked himself yet. If you are interested in the answer then this is the blog for you.  I’ve deliberately left out the answer “Shit that happens to me” because that is obvious.  What are listed below are the tools that helped me shape what I was trying to achieve in this year’s show.  “Circular” has been conceived and written in a way that allows you to enjoy the show however you want to engage with it.  If you like straight stand up then it is straight stand up.  If you like more to your show then there is plenty more.  Of course if you really like the interactive side of life you can partake in the competition that I will launch next week of which there is a sweet prize.

Until then let’s have a look at what helped influence the show.

Reading material

Future Minds” by Richard Watson was a big influence and helped me shape ideas that I already had but failed to impose a form upon.

Wired Magazine” consistently has interesting stories every month and the article on Transmedia helped me to explore the ideas percolating in my head.

The short stories of Jorge Luis Borges gave me a lot of inspiration and I can’t believe it took me this long to discover his great works.

Grant Morrison’s “Final Crisis” was a divisive work but I loved it especially the quick edits and sense of throwing you in the middle of the action.  It helped me steer clear of the tight narratives I’ve been working with for the last six or seven years and tackle my show in a deliberate non-linear format.

The books “The Existential Jesus” by John Carroll and “The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ” by Philip Pullman influenced large parts of the show that haven’t made it to the final product but you can find on the app.  Funnily enough the piece that I wrote helped spark a story that did find it’s way into the live show.

The screenplay and movie of “Inception” not only helped me discover new ways to tell stories but also reignited my faith that you can aim high and still be populist.  We will wait to see by the end of the run if that faith will be repaid.  As a side note Borges has influenced both Christopher Nolan and Grant Morrison so that is how I finally discovered this great author.

Music

These are the artists I was listening to while writing the new show:

Scott Walker’s “Drift” and “Tilt” are challenging works yet coupled with the excellent DVD documentary “30 Century Man” helped me learn so much more about an interesting artist that I knew so little about.

Listening to Walker lead me back to Radiohead’s “Kid A” and “OK Computer”, two masterpieces I had not listened to in a long time.  The songs on the album still seem so futuristic that they could easily be the soundtracks to this show.

Scott Walker also gave me a new appreciation of David Bowie and in particular the album “Outside”.  I’ve loved this album for a long time and was delighted to find extra layers that were once locked away from me due to my gap in knowledge.

For awhile Morrissey’s “Your Arsenal” was going to be used throughout the show but have since left out since I decided in a change of tempo for the show.  The album is still ingrained in the early drafts though and shouldn’t be left out.

My Chemical Romance’s “Danger Days:  The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys” was a great reintroduction to what the kids are listening to these days.  I remember being in LA around the corner from a club where they were appearing and watching the kids lined up for over 24 hours, the result of glam rock being fashioned in the shadow of September 11 and terrorism and a desire to burn everything before it.  Have my generations seen it before?  Sure but these kids haven't and it has a new spin.  And to be cynical about what the kids are finding exciting now is to miss the point:  youth should burn away the past and create new images for their generation.  The fire that burns is intoxicating if you embrace it rather than shutting your blinds and refusing to change your minds.

Finally the Walker Brothers will be heard often during this show.  I always loved that scene in Blade Runner where Harrison Ford plays simple keys on a piano while looking at fading photographs and hopefully the beginning and the ending of the show will achieve this same effect.

Comedians

Last year I saw Louis CK in LA and his show was one of the best I’ve ever seen.  His use of language was completely inspiring and I’m laughing even as I write this as I think about his closing line that night.  Brilliant.

Patton Oswalt is very funny and a nice man.  Wil Anderson and I went to see him do a reading from his novel at Book Soup in LA and he was charming, hilarious and humble.  He makes you want to be a better comedian and Wil and I were buzzing after chatting to him.  Literally buzzing.  For about three days solid.   I am certain we both lost weight from our buzzing and that is another reason to thank Patton.

So there you go, all the bits and pieces that inspired the show.  Feel free to click on any links and find the works I am talking about.  You may enjoy trying to work out which bits of stand up are inspired by the above work.  Otherwise you can just come to the show and enjoy the gags without knowing about any of the above.

It really is up to you.

To check out the app circular.justinhamilton.com.au. and to purchase tickets for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival season click on “Circular”.

Justin Hamilton

Fitzroy North

23rd of March, 2011