Gig 26: Afghanistan Kandahar

Our third gig of the tour was the show where everything clicked. I think the first two gigs were excellent individual performances but there was something about the gig in Kandahar that had everything gel into a real show.  Maybe it was the intimacy of the performance venue that helped bring everything together.  Our first two shows in Tarin Kowt were situated in a massive gym that took an effort to keep the focus of the audience.  I know from my experience I was doing my best to keep eye contact with every part of the crowd from the people right up the front to the audience members up the back without hopefully looking like my neck was bouncing on a loose spring.

Landing in Kandahar was especially sweet as the flight was less than an hour and the less time spent in the bowels of a Hercules the better.  Between the noise and discomfort you really are exhausted by the time you land.  We were shown into our quarters and shown around the compound.  The soldiers looking after us pointed out where a rocket had hit a part of the Australian base before moving on to what they found to be more interesting facts.  When you are shown things like where a rocket hit as an aside it only adds to the surreal nature of the tour.

The gig was an outside gig.  I normally detest outside gigs as they are usually anathema to comedy with laughter dissipating in the air.  Luckily the space was closed in by walls to rooms on either side and they'd set up a barbecue at the back thus giving us a solid space to work within.  I decided that I wouldn't bother to use the stage as the gap between me and the audience was substantial.  Instead I dragged my mic out into the audience, stood on the closest table and performed from there.  If you see a big space between the audience and the comedian you are well advised to move closer otherwise that area acts as a "comedy moat".  Jokes need laughing heads to skip across the surface and reach the people at the back.  I am sure there is a scientific explanation for this.  If only I'd asked Doctor Karl while I had him at my beck and call.

 

 

The gig went down really well and as I said before there appeared to be a new cohesiveness between us as a group.  Later in the gig Doctor Karl joined Bento onstage to pull out the winners of a raffle competition and the unscripted banter and music was definitely a highlight.  Towards the end of the gig Ben Gillies was struck down with uncontrollable giggles after a minor mistake from the band (so minor that none of us knew what the mistake actually was!) as they were about to lead into their final song. This was one of those experiences that ripples out from the stage as the audience found they too had the giggles without really understanding the inspiration.  It was one of those nights.

This was my setlist:

 

Set One

Gig brief

Flying on a Hercules

Tarin Kowt Toilets

Hen's Night

Biker Gig

Old Lady and Scrabble

Turning 40

Car Crash in Adelaide

Hairy Baby

Invite Who You Want To Parties

Being An Arsehole

Little Boy Joke

 

Set Two

Tripping and Farting

Getting Angry as I Get Older

No Need to Share All Your Opinions

Glitter in Invitations

People wearing your glasses

Spooning

 

As you can probably see I have reverted to what was essentially my first setlist from the opening night of the tour.  This was a nice and punchy way to get into the show that allowed me to give the audience the comfort in knowing (subconsciously of course) that I knew what I was doing and they could relax.  The new bit of ad-libbing at the top of the gig was about how disgusting some of the toilets in Tarin Kowt were.  I know it was unfair to be pointing this out but I seriously haven't seen that much poo since I visited the monkey enclosure at the zoo.  To be fair a lot of it came down to poor flushing systems but at one point I literally opened five different toilet doors to be confronted with some pretty angry looking stuff.  Of course the only way to cope with that type of confrontation is to talk about it onstage.  The fact that it went down really well only confirmed I was not alone in what I had experienced.

 

 

That night I slept in a room with all the members of Bento.  Hilarious.  I prefer to sleep in rooms by myself as I have to wear a sleep apnea device to bed (Not the Darth Vader mask but one that attaches to the top and bottom of my teeth...hello ladies!) but with all the travel and experience I was out like a light before anyone had turned off the lights.

I was feeling like I was finally in a touring rhythm and was really beginning to find my comfort zone.  Little did I know that the next day would be where all that would change.

Justin Hamilton

9th of March, 2013

Kandahar