Gig 21: Hotel Barkly

Sometimes you just don't have it in you. I wasn't in the mood for performing last night.  I was tired from my 5am flight the previous day, a flight that bumped and shook with turbulence as I evaded the storm that hit Brisbane.  Dumped into Melbourne I endured a long day of work and running errands.  I woke early Tuesday morning in a bad mood and even though I was able to return to writing my novel I just couldn't shake a nagging feeling that it was all taking way too long.  By the time it came to prepare for the gig I was lamenting that I couldn't stay in and watch TV. Just like any other person who goes to work you have those days where you just don't care and would rather close the doors, turn off your phone and bumble about the house in your pyjamas.

By the time I arrived at the venue the sweat was sticking and my clothes were clinging like a desperate girlfriend who knows she's done something wrong.  (If you're a person reading this that likes dating boys then change to boyfriend to revel in the metaphor) The humidity that has bathed Melbourne and Brisbane these past few weeks has given me a great sense of claustrophobia and didn't help my mood.  The Hotel Barkly is found in St Kilda and when I entered the building a girl walked past me wearing nothing but bathers and a sarong immediately tainting my already dark mood with a sense of dread.  The music was blaring and I could make out a palimpsest of conversations as groups of backpackers yelled at each other, all seeming unaware that a gig might take place in less than half an hour.

The booker of the room is a guy called Evan who I had met down at Commedia Dell'Parte and I had enjoyed the energy he brought to our first conversation.  Evan had invited me down to perform at his comedy night and I said yes as I, for the most part, enjoy new comedy experiences in new rooms.  Unfortunately for Evan I was in a mood and did my best to mask this from him as it wasn't his fault I wasn't Mr Fun Pants.  Tegan Higginbotham was the host and I could see the dread she felt at looking around the room for the first time. The irony was not lost on me as The Doors' "Riders on the Storm" assailed my ears at decibels so powerful I couldn't help but time travel back to my teenage years when I had embraced the myth of Jim Morrison.  To prepare for this gig I pretended I was somewhere else and played a lot of games of solitaire on my smartphone.  I made a deal with whatever comedy gods are out there that if I could nail a game on the hardest level before the show began, then maybe it wouldn't be too painful.  I decided I wouldn't bother sorting out a setlist until I saw how the first two brackets played out. Only then would I knit together a game plan to survive the night.

 

 

Then a rather nice turn of events began to play out.  Evan had been working hard into the lead up to the show and began to corral people into the seats in the corner of the room. Not only that but he'd been clever enough to place reserved signs on the chairs at the back of the seating arrangement which forced the first groups of punters to sit as close to the stage as possible.  Evan had quite clearly created a relationship with all the backpackers with his tireless work before the gig began. Once he started talking on the microphone he already owned a certain respect in the room.  People stopped talking and made their way dutifully to their seats.  At this point I nailed a game of solitaire on the hardest level.  I felt an uplift in my mood, ignoring the tragedy that I had emotionally laid out how I would approach this gig on the result of a game on a phone.  Whatever.  It felt like it was all coming together.

 

 

Evan did such a great job before the show began that Tegan was able to walk on the stage and get straight into her material.  She did an excellent job of hosting the night, keeping the energy up and positive.  The other comedians on the bill did well too, a lot of younger and newer acts to grace the Melbourne scene.  Ben Stevenson worked on new material for his MICF show, Sean Bedlam continues to improve as he slowly transforms his style (in his words he's "embracing the ham" and I like it), Timothy Clarke told a delightful tale of love turning suddenly cold, Sam Petersen nailed his spot with routines that were personal yet peppered with funny jokes and Sharnti Phillips showed some real promise with her act outs on stage as she transitions from sketch to stand up.  The audience was loving the show and so was I.  I decided I was just going to belt it out so this was my setlist for the night:

 

Partying During The Week

Hen's Night

Gym Conversation

Breaking Up Through History

Turning 40

Car Crash in Adelaide

Invite Who You Want To Parties

Being An Arsehole

Little Boy Joke

Hairy Baby

No Need To Share All Your Opinions/People Watching Movies Out of Context

Glitter in Invitations

People wearing your glasses

Spooning

 

In the end the gig was a really fun with an excellent audience who were really committed to the gig.  Evan ran a tight ship and proved that if you put in some elbow grease you can really make a room work.  Watching him run around before the show even began assuaged me of any doubts and combined with the magic of a successful game of solitaire (I'm kidding of course!) really helped turn my mood around.

Turns out you shouldn't judge a room by the house music and I should always attempt to remember that a successful gig can spin you right out of a grumpy mood.

 

Justin Hamilton

27th of February, 2013

Fitzroy North