I've always loved The Comedy Store. It is a beautiful room to perform in and when I was starting out in Adelaide it was one of my goals to one day be a headliner there. To me The Comedy Store was one of the main clubs that you wanted to be the top dog at. In Melbourne it was The Comic's Lounge and The Comedy Club, in Brisbane it was the Sit Down Comedy Club. Over time I ticked these boxes and there is a great amount of satisfaction when you start to be asked back for return seasons. With this in mind I was rapt to be finally performing a solo show at the Store.
Going into this gig I wanted to not only do my best but I also didn't want to waste my stage time. What would have been really easy to do is cobble together my favourite material from the year and put it into an hour context. Yet in doing that I wouldn't have been planning for next year. What I wanted to do was see what type of show I might have in me at the moment. I had already placed some material aside earlier in the year knowing that I could use that for a show. In the last couple of weeks I have exhumed these stories and been working them in a way that would give them a new context and in the process make them stronger and more interesting. Check the set list and then we'll chat about the changes that were made.
Country Folk vs Inner City Living
Turning 41 Is A Bit Shitter
Hurting For No Reason
New Grey Hair
Thinking About Kids
"I Don't Give A Hoot!"
I'll Neck Myself
Imagine I Might Be A Bad Dad
Destroying Right On Guy
Inspiring Women By Calling the PM Names
Paul and Basic Instinct
It Is Good To Have Arseholes Hate You
Mozart and Mrs Hitler
Today's Tragedy Is Tomorrow's Bouncy Castle
The Afghanistan material has been re-worked quite extensively since I first performed the routine. Originally it was a piece that was around 12 minutes long and finished on the story about Bronzing Up. It was working fine in the clubs but I feared that it was lacking something. It felt like slick club material but in the process I wasn't talking about the stories from the war zone that were the most interesting. Taking what I already had I have re-worked it so I can streamline some of the gags and add the stories that I think are the more interesting. The routine now feels like my director's cut of the material, the way I always intended it before the studios got in the way. While some people might recognise a lot of it the fact is it is much better now and comes in at just over 20 minutes. These edits allow for changes of pace within the routines that help build tension up until the climax of the story. I think it is much more compelling now than it was in its original form. Before when I would write about the material I would break it down into smaller pieces but now that I have a new form for it I have just renamed the whole piece "Afghanistan."
The theme of next year's show is "Legacy" and the rest of the material is beginning to reflect that. Between the growing older and looking back on what you have achieved so far along with who you are hoping to be as you move forward, the new routines are feeling like they're coming together. If I had to start my festival tonight I would definitely have a show. It still needs a lot of work but the framework is there.
The final piece I ad libbed for the first time at The Butterfly Club (I think...I would have to go back and check but I'm under the pump writing this now so feel free to tell me I'm wrong) and I knew immediately it was a closing routine. At first I thought it would be material that would thrive in a club but over time I felt like it was better for a show so I also have put that aside until recently knowing that it was going to be given a new life. Within this solo outing I found a new angle that I am delighted with and I can't wait to be working the show more so I can make it even better. I have two trial shows this week in Melbourne, a short one and an hour long time slot that will allow me to make some more changes to this.
Already I am looking at some of the routines that worked fine but I feel they will be destined for the chop. The Country Folk...routine, bogans seeing planes in the Afghanistan piece and possibly even Make-A-Wish Comedian might not make it to the show. All three worked really well on Friday night but I'm not entirely convinced they're going to fit in with the finished product. I love this time of working on the show, the edits and the rolls of the dice. Putting a show together is fun.
This is also feeling like a straight stand up show with subtler story arcs. The Goodbye Guy was not only the tying off of the Calliope/Harrington stories that begun with "Three Colours Hammo" and "The Killing Joke" respectively but also those types of stories for the time being. This is about writing shows that are robust, can be performed anywhere at anytime yet still retain the love of language and the subtleties that come with a solo show.
I have also found a new way to use call backs that excited me as I ad-libbed them onstage. This new way into a well worn comedian's craft has inspired me to place a few throughout the show but I'm not going to tell you what this new way is. Maybe other comedians have done this before, I have no idea but it is definitely new for me. With these new developments new ideas have begun to flourish and so I am looking forward to finishing off The Shelf for the year so I can return to concentrating on my solo work.
1st of December, 2013