Two gigs in one day and they couldn't be more different. First up was a day time gig that was a fundraiser for Kids Under Cover put together by Bibby Financial Services. Day time gigs for business men can be pretty tough as you're literally taking the art of stand up comedy and placing it in an environment where it isn't supposed to thrive. Stand up works best in darkened rooms at night where people can relax and laugh in the shadows. A couple of drinks, seats focused toward a stage and the anonymity of the audience are all important requirements for a gig. This was like many corporate gigs: in daylight during work hours in a room with the type of seating that you find at a wedding. This was at first glance a tricky gig. If you fail nobody says, "Well it was a daytime gig and brightly lit so how was it meant to succeed?" If you fail you fail. It is like asking Roger Federer to show you how to play tennis with a beach volleyball and a stick then commenting afterward, "Wow, that guy isn't very good." No I am not comparing myself to Federer, it is just an example. Yes I agree that Federer would probably be still pretty amazing. Anyhoo...
Luckily for me the people that work at Bibby Financial Services and Kids Under Cover were fantastic. They were not only extremely professional in their approach but they were also very friendly. I spent a bit of time with the people in charge before the event began and they really couldn't have been nicer. There were two approaches I had for this gig. First up I chose material that was as conservative as possible without being dull. I avoided material that could be found a bit confronting in the cold light of day. As an example when I performed my material about turning 40 I left out the early parts of the routine that referred to teenage boys and their propensity to be sperm machines. At night in a club that material is hilarious. During the day men and women in business suits will probably find the word confronting no matter how hilarious the context.
Secondly I was performing two 10 minute spots which is a little unusual. One 20 minute spot would be the normal way to go but they wanted me spread out my material over the lunch presentation. What I needed to do then was find a way to introduce my sets twice. The second time would be easier as they would have already had an opportunity to get to know me but you still need to find a way to get in to your material. For the first set list I decided to talk to the founder of Kids Under Cover Ken Morgan. I used to watch Ken when he made appearances on "Hey Hey, It's Saturday!" and I knew he could be a good sport. I remembered vividly one time a contestant won a car and when Red Symons and Wilbur Wilde drove the car on to the soundstage they scratched the doors as they scraped it alongside some perspex. It was pretty hilarious as I remember watching Ken laugh but figured he didn't find it too funny. I decided I would ask him about this moment and whether his laughing was genuine. Ken's response: "Well you couldn't tell them to get stuffed on live TV now, could you?" This received a good laugh in the audience and I was away. The first set list was as follows:
Ken Morgan Interaction
Jarrod at the Wedding
Invite to Parties
This set worked nicely, I deliberately dropped one "f" bomb just to test the waters and see how people felt about it. It received a good laugh but I knew that while it was enough to make it feel naughty another one would have meant the set had the possibility of being seen as vulgar. It is a balancing act with this type of gig and I feel I got the balance correct in this section of the day.
The next setlist now had to reestablish me quickly and efficiently. This section of the day was just after lunch so this is usually the period when people are a little more relaxed and also ready for a bit of a chat. This can also lead to a situation where it is difficult to keep the concentration so I took a bit of a gamble early. One of the people in charge was a striking woman with an Eastern European background. She had looked after me early and was very nice so to begin my second bracket I stated to the audience that I just wanted to try something out. I walked over to the woman and asked if she wouldn't mind standing up and I pointed out when I met her I thought she had a "James Bond Femme Fatale" look going on. I was very careful with my wording because while what I was saying was complimentary I didn't want it to be misconstrued as a moment that undermined her in front of her friends and colleagues. The choice of the term "femme fatale" was paramount to my idea working. After I presented her with this description I asked her if she would take the microphone, look at the audience and say, "We meet again Mr Bond". The gamble paid off because not only did she gladly give this line a whirl but everyone clapped and enjoyed her delivery. I thanked her for participating and asked everyone present to give her a round of applause for being a good sport. From there I decided that to help focus the room I would do some audience interaction. I brought out an old routine that poses the question, "What is the most embarrassing thing that could happen in a one on one conversation?" I then walked up to each table and had one person suggest something that I then riffed off. After everyone had made a suggestion I then told them my story. From there I segued into more material and that made up the second setlist.
James Bond Femme Fatale
One on One Embarrasment
Glitter in Invitations
People wearing your glasses
No Need to Share All Your Opinions
At the end of the luncheon I helped Ken Morgan with an auction and by the time this was finished my job was done. I lucked out in a big way as this corporate gig was not only run professionally but had a generosity of spirit that inspired me to try some different approaches to my routines that worked for the event. It is always a delight when you can work for good people and everyone involved in this event did more than enough to welcome me to their gig...which you would be surprised to learn doesn't always happen!
Next up was Dave O'Neil's Comedy Funhouse at the Grandview Hotel. I was booked as support for Bob Franklin which means I had the opportunity to catch up with Bob twice in a week. Good times for me! This is the type of room you want to perform in as it is small and cosy with everyone positioned close to the stage. Here's a photo for you to get an idea of the set up:
After my corporate gig I could just click back into normal performance mode. I had only performed there once before and at the time I had been attempting to hone new material. The gig had been fine but I knew that I could have been more successful. Dave was one of the first stand up comedians I had ever seen live. He was hosting down at the Espy Hotel in the 90s and he was not only very funny but I learned how to deliver ironic lines from him. Dave was onstage following up punchlines with throwaway remarks like, "Don't forget to tip your waitress". This is a classic line is from a bygone era but Dave's ironic use of them flavoured his routines to such an extent they were hilarious. I was watching Dave closely last night and I think there are a bunch of male comedians around my age that have all been influenced by him in some regard. He's also an excellent example of someone who has remained relevant as an act by his continuous gigging. There were times he could have sat back and just lived off his radio and TV work but he's kept up the stand up work ethic and it shows through every time he walks onstage. The audience there loves him and he presents a fantastic show.
I was on after the very funny and dry Damien Lawlor and this was my setlist for the Comedy Funhouse:
Afghanistan: Marching on ANZAC Day
I’m a war hero!
“Hey, be careful!”
Car Crash in Adelaide
Invite Who You Want To Parties
Being An Arsehole
Glitter in Invitations
People wearing your glasses
No Need to Share All Your Opinions
This was just a fun gig with a great crowd. I enjoyed being on earlier as this meant I could sit back and enjoy Glenn Robbins who was on right after me. Glenn is such a great guy and it made me feel good to be at a stage in my career where I could be on the same line up as Dave, Bob and Glenn, three guys I really looked up to when I started off. Even though I have been performing for 19 years now, it is nice to take time out to remember where you came from and where you are now. When I first began visiting Melbourne it was always a dream to make good money and work with the best.
This was definitely a good day.
15th of May, 2013