Gig 123: Karratha

There are moments in your career where you suddenly find yourself in towns or places that are totally beyond where you imagined it might take you.  I think there were only three things when I hoped for in the beginning:  

1.  Make a living from stand up comedy.

2.  Be in a position where you can be creative.

3.  Travel.

 

I never really thought about the friendships you might make along the way.  There is definitely a sense of wanting to belong to the community but that came afterward, when I began to look beyond the confines of Boltz Cafe back mid 1994 and realise how the comedy world expanded beyond my limited scope of experience.  This weekend in Karratha I had one of those moments where you look around your surroundings and appreciate how you came to be in such a place.

I was booked along with close friends Claire Hooper and Pete Helliar to perform at the Red Arts Earth Festival in Western Australia.  Due to an administrative snafu Claire and I arrived on Friday night and Pete joined us on Saturday for our Sunday night show.  I turn 41 in a few days and found the timing of this trip and the company that surrounded me to be a perfect way to spend a weekend.  I had a very keen sense of nostalgia for the early years of my career.  I waver between melancholy and wistfulness in the lead up to my birthday most years and this one is definitely coming down in the wistful category.  This was helped by the two separate podcasts I recorded with Claire and Pete for "Can You Take This Photo Please?" and our conversations that revolved around our roots.  I have also begun work on my new solo show that has the working title of "Legacy".  I'll leave it there so you can ruminate on where this show might be going.

Often in this industry you're so busy that all you can do is look forward and possibly miss the smaller joys that accompany this job.  There was a day when I could have joined some friends who were also in Karratha (Asher Treleaven and his wife Gypsy, Josh Earl and Cam Knight) to visit some Aboriginal artwork carved into rocks that sounded beautiful but the pressure of deadlines and knowing that I have a busy week in Adelaide prevented me from being able to join them.  That was the one disappointment of this trip and seeing the photographs later that night left me feeling envious even though I knew I picked the correct decision.

 

 

If you look closely you can see Hoops performing on the stage.

 

 

Overall this felt like a good blend of hanging out and creative time.  It was a pleasure waking every morning to have breakfast with Hoops and Pete.  I managed to go for a couple of jogs and continue work on some other projects.  We attended Josh Earl's show and "Comic Strip" the following night and embraced the warmth that has eluded Melbourne in recent weeks.  There was some trepidation with the gig when we all realised it was an outdoor show but I will explain more about that after we check out the set lists.  I was hosting so they're split into two:

 

Set List One

Partying During the Week

Turning 40

Car Crash in Adelaide

Invite to Parties

Hairy Baby

Being an Arsehole

Little Boy Joke

 

Set List Two

Tripping and Farting

No Need To Share All Your Opinions

Watching Movies Out of Context

Glitter in Invitations

People Wearing Your Glasses

Spooning

 

 

Helliar brings the light to the stage.

 

 

The fear with an outdoor gig is that it is difficult go gauge how you're actually being received while performing.  With no ceiling and walls to confine the laughter, giggles and guffaws can dissipate in the wind.  The trick to these gigs is to watch the audience as much as you listen.  Watching somebody enjoying themselves might not be as satisfying as listening to laughter but it does allow you to maintain your rhythm.  You don't want to be rushing into your next piece because you can leave the audience no opportunity to enjoy your routines.  If you're moving too quickly the audience has trouble keeping up and then your fear become a self fulfilling prophecy.

We arrived about an hour before the gig was about to begin to help set up the night and we waited back behind the tents to gather our thoughts and be away from the hustle and bustle of people arriving.  When I returned to our performance area it was quite exciting to see that we had an audience of around 800 waiting for us.  Not only was it a massive crowd but they were locked in for the show as well.  From my opening off the cuff remark I knew we were in for a great night.

If you have been keeping an eye on recent gigs you will see that I stuck to the best material I have (or the material I enjoy performing the most) for hosting.  All those routines are short and sharp so it helps get the audience into the mood of the show. As host my job is to not only inform the audience of how the show is going to play out but also draw focus from any other distractions.  Once they are ready to relax I then bring on the first act.  With a cool breeze and the moon shining over head, it was a gig that had me so relaxed before I hit the stage that I believe I could have snuck in a quick power nap without fear of waking groggy.

Hoops and Helliar both killed (as you would expect) and the night played so smoothly that it felt over before it had just begun.  Considering between us we were onstage for over two hours, it is a great sign that a gig has gone well when the time just flies.  I had an excellent time spending time with my friends at a gig that was a corker.  It was amazing to think that I was performing in a town that I had never heard of when I first began my career.  What a great final gig that put a close on my 40th year.  I'm taking some time off to see family in Adelaide and the next blog I write I will be 41.  Here's hoping the next year is as exciting and surprising as this year that has just passed.

 

A panoramic shot of our venue for our show.

 

Justin Hamilton

17th of September, 2013

Adelaide