I was back hosting at Spleen and had every intention of performing a bunch of new material. Since this is known as an open mic night I like to honour the room by writing as much new material to open the show with and then at the beginning of the second bracket have fun with some older material. I also like to do a longer set at the beginning of the night, set the tone, then just bring acts on and off to keep the show as tight as possible. This idea was dashed when I discovered that we had an extra two acts on that night taking us from the usual 10 to 12 acts. That is roughly an extra 20 minutes and is the difference between a show finishing around 10.30pm and instead getting close to 11pm. When you're running a room you never want it going too late because that can influence an audience so they might not return the following week. The reason there were more acts was due to the fact that the Melbourne International Comedy Festival is about to start up for 2013. You often will have some high profiled acts turn up who are keen to jump up to test new material, find their feet, practice Gala spots etc. They can also be the acts who love to dictate when they can appear on the bill. "I want to be on in the second bracket but not at the start and not at the end, preferably two acts in," say the comedian who figures he's doing the room a favour.
This is all fine and you do want to help them out because it is not only good for the room but also a great surprise for the audience. Unfortunately what it does though is throw the balance of a show out. With a room like Spleen where you have new acts attempting to find their feet you want to place the more experienced comics in positions where they won't scare the bejeezus out of the amateur comedians. The last thing you want for a new comedian is to have them sweating bullets because they're following one of the best acts in the festival. Normally when putting a night together you might start the second bracket with an experienced act followed by a middle range act followed by a newbie and then build up to finishing the night with an experienced comic to close out the show. With these demands and the extra two acts on it was asked of me by Karl Chandler to keep it tight. This is always fine by me. Less work for the same pay? Thank you Karl.
The problem with doing too much new material though is that you can lose track of time because you're performing the material for the first time so realistically who knows how long it will take? What I decided to do instead was intersperse some new ideas with established material so I could keep it reigned in.
Afghanistan: Marching on ANZAC Day
Afghanistan: I'm a war hero!
Car Crash in Adelaide
Being An Arsehole
Little Boy Joke
The first half was a lot of fun and pretty much stuck to script. With the second half loaded with comedians who wanted to be on at certain points in the night we had to be a little more open to changing the line up as we went along. At the beginning of the second bracket I kept it really tight.
Tripping and Farting
Afghanistan: The Worst Sentence Ever
It was great to be able to try out some new ideas that related back to my gigs in Afghanistan. I had attempted Bronzing Up! in Brisbane as a throw away but this time it took on a life of its own that seemed to really hit the crowd in a way that took me by surprise. One of the producers of the room Pete Sharkey told me later it was one of his favourite parts of the new material. It was also possibly the most manic I've been onstage since my Bunta Boys days. (The Bunta Boys were a comedy duo I performed in from 1994-1999...yes, before some of you were born. Boo!) If I am to continue with this piece I might have to work a little more.
I thought the night was a successful show. I always enjoy my gigs there and this one was no different. It was especially gratifying that we were able to keep the night aloft and running smoothly with all the mucking around behind the scenes as we accommodated not only the established acts but also the new kids on the scene. When you can overcome the chaos in a way so the audience has no idea any of this was happening you know you have done your job well and I think we all did excellent work this night.
18th of March, 2013