I'm back! It has been three weeks since my last gig (or confession if you will) and I learned something new about myself in the process. In the past I have lamented with many of my comedic colleagues that after a bit of time out of the game you can feel like you return out of touch with your skills. Routines may jumble their sequence or you substitute an ill fitting word in an important part of a punch line and rob the gag of all its comedic power. Last night though I decided to perform mainly brand new material and in the process avoided that dreaded first gig back curse. I think if I had performed material I was more comfortable with I may have hit some road bumps but because it was new I had to think my way through how it would work rather than repeat how it worked in the past. Hopefully I have dodged a bullet there and if so will continue to use that method in the years ahead.
The reason this was my first gig in three weeks was due to the fact that I took Mum to America for her 60th birthday where (in New York) we attended "The Book of Mormon" (even better than advertised), watched Nick Hempton play jazz in a bar in Harlem (great guy and a great night), had an Italian meal in Little Italy while a man with a squeezebox played the Godfather theme (by request...naturally), had dinner while watching Woody Allen play jazz (heaven!), saw a live taping of the Craig Ferguson show in LA (disappointing) and saw a special screening of Man of Steel on the Warner Bros lot (dug it a lot!) so things have been fairly hectic. This isn't taking into account all the friends we caught up with while on our holiday. Comedy has been far from my mind and in fact any work that did creep into my thoughts revolved around other projects.
While I was away I watched with fascination as the whole Eddie Maguire "King Kong-gate" incident played out and found for the first time in a long time an anger at the way events unfolded. I believe in the last few years I have inoculated myself to the despair I feel towards events in the world by simply not caring. With some dexterity I have managed to be able to bring on an emotional state that is usually induced by drugs such as Valium as things can just be too overwhelming. With the ubiquitousness of social media and 24 hour news cycles it is easy to find a story that will destroy your day: floods in remote countries you never once knew existed, people being raped and killed, animals being slaughtered for no apparent reason etc. In time it has become all too overwhelming and my ability to empathise and and express care has been reduced to me acknowledging said tragedy and then sending money immediately to whichever charity I believe will do the best job in aiding those in strife.
Now that I am into my forties I am becoming more aware of my mortality and therefore my legacy, something that I believe for the most part is locked into the DNA of most men. From Ozymandias to the latest punk athlete we hear talk about leaving behind a legacy with scant regard for the fact that nobody can even remember what happened last week. Just check the papers: no sign of Eddie and his ape gaffe, we're more interested in discussing how angry Seal was that his rockstar friend was found with cannabis. Worst still we're finding news about our Prime Minister who; regardless of whether you approve of her politics, has been reduced to the type of name calling and political incorrectness that I had hoped was left behind in the previous century. Worst still is the amount of women who proclaim they're feminists who resort to calling our PM a c*** and argue the point, "I've been called it so why can't I call her one?" I swear there are times when I believe the Luddites had it correct and I'm ready go all Amish at the first opportunity.
I had a solo show bouncing around in my head from the end of last year but after making a promise that I would be avoiding the solo show world I am finding that voice is becoming louder. Often I discover the feel of a show will first reveal itself in the music I am listening to and of late it has been David Bowie's "The Next Day", Queens of the Stone Age "...Like Clockwork" and movie soundtracks by Mike Patton. If a new show does emerge it will be nothing like "The Goodbye Guy", it is feeling angry and dangerous, more than I have felt in a long time. I think this is a positive step and if a show does appear you'll be the first to know.
I have also released this week a show I recorded on my smartphone while performing at the Perth Comedy Festival. Many people have told me that I should be selling this stuff but I plan on producing a lot of work and I'm tired of doing things the way "they're meant to be done". I didn't get into this business for any other reason than to be creative and the majority of people in this industry have lost sight of this fact. It is about making a buck and how can we parlay this into more corporate work. Fuck that. I won't lie and state I'm not interested in making more money. That would be very hypocritical of me. Yet I am not going to let it rule my way of thinking and if I want to put something out there for fans that is free then I will. I have some ideas for other products you may like to buy in the future but in the meantime why don't have you a free show on me. Head over to canyoutakethisphoto.com and click on the "Perthonality Show".
Back to last night. "Watson" asked me to be a part of their four show season at The Butterfly Club and I said yes immediately because I like both Adam MacKenzie and Tegan Higginbotham as friends and also enjoy their collective work. They put together a fun show starring Girls Uninterrupted, Randy and Xavier Michelides. I was on last and this was my setlist:
Maguire and the Ape
White Men Have It Hard
Destroying a Nerd
“You Can Shit In Your Hat”
Country Folk vs Inner City Living
“Are You Aboriginal?”
Bomb Chucker and “I’m Sorry”
How Little I Know About Aboriginal Culture
Hurting a good person
Sargent Richard Long
Today’s Tragedy is Tomorrow’s Bouncy Castle
I was a bit rambly in my first gig back but that allowed me to explore some of the themes and ideas that have been bouncing around in my head for the last couple of months. I felt like there was some good material in here and considering the oldest routines are weeks old at best, they feel like they're coalescing into something new and interesting, a body of work that will be quite different to material I have written in the last couple of years. Also some interesting personal stories popped up that I wasn't expecting and they seemed like they had legs although it is difficult to tell sometimes when the audience is as good as it was last night.
A fun and successful night that helped remind me exactly what I love about stand up comedy. Three nights to go too so if you're around Melbourne you should definitely stop by for the show. Otherwise keep an eye out for more announcements of gigs around Australia in the next week.
13th of June, 2013