There was a genuine highlight of our time in Mount Isa. The gig itself felt dangerous, volatile. 650 people sat in the audience with a bar that never closed. The people were up for a show but it felt at any point one poor choice of routines and you could lose them. No one puts a foot wrong and the gig is a smash but we’re exhausted at the end. We’ve had to work hard for our laughs, dancing manically on the tightrope but it has been worth it.
This is not the biggest highlight.
How about arriving in Mount Isa and realising our luggage isn’t coming? Qantas informs us they can get it to us by 1.30pm the next day. Our flight back to Brisbane is 3pm. We tell Qantas to leave it in Brisbane; we’ll pick it up tomorrow. For our convenience we’re given Qantas packs: Qantas t-shirts and shorts to wear to bed, toothpaste, deodorant, toothbrush and a comb. I haven’t brushed my hair in a decade but I run the comb over my scalp to get my money’s worth. That night Bob Franklin performs in his Qantas t-shirt. He is somehow still cool. I don’t know how he does that. Maybe it is because he is simply Bob Franklin? I think that might be his X Men mutant ability: the ability to be fucking cool no matter what.
This is a highlight but not the highlight.
Upon arriving at our hotel I am starving so I go searching for anything to eat. The first café I come to is closed. The next is no longer serving food that needs to be prepared. The next place I find is a doughnut franchise that became dormant a long time ago in the rest of the world. Finally it is a choice between KFC and McDonalds. I haven’t eaten either since 2003. I choose McDonalds. I’m asked for my order before I even get to the counter. By the time I hit the counter there is a line that stretches back outside. The people standing there will surely burn under the autumn sun. I wait at the counter. I look at the people working there: young kids working their first jobs and older ladies looking to add an extra buck to their lives. I see the food being prepared and immediately feel dissatisfaction at the choice I have made. I turn to Mike Wilmot and say:
“I’m getting out of here.”
“You don’t have your food yet,” Mike replies.
“It is worth the $13.45 to be reminded why I don’t eat here.”
We walk out without looking back. I feel better for not having gone through with collecting my order. I eat a packet of chips for lunch and go to sleep content with the different type of shit I just put in my stomach.
This is definitely not the highlight.
That night after the gig we all go out as a group to have a drink. While I’m at the bar a man approaches me to talk about the gig. He had a brilliant time with his wife and loved everyone who was on. He pulls out a line from each act to help explain what he loved about each comedian. He than tells me how he used to be a wine maker in Victoria but he and his wife were having trouble conceiving children. He left his job and moved to Mount Isa where he became a miner for a living. It turns out that Mount Isa has a successful and cheap IVF programme and they wanted to give themselves the best chance they possibly could to have kids. He tells me proudly that he has two beautiful children and that this was his first night out with his wife in a very long time. We shake hands and he disappears into the shadows of the club.
Real stories from real people provide the genuine highlights of travelling on the road.
30th of April, 2011