Going into my hosting job at Five Boroughs Comedy I had put together a set list that wouldn't rely on the material I had performed in the first two gigs of the year. With some weighty topics and words that can push some buttons I had decided this wasn't the type of material that was needed for this night. As a host your job is to serve the show and if I were to go on a rant about Pro Choice and then attempt to bring on an act like Michael Williams or Demi Lardner, then the jolt between the two would be jarring and unfair to the acts. Yesterday afternoon I chose my material accordingly.
Around lunch time I read a tweet from Lehmo thanking Qantas staff for looking after him on his flight back from Thailand and when I called him he sounded terrible. Turns out he'd been struck down with gastro and when I asked if he was going to perform that night he said that he'd give it a go. I am 100% paranoid of gastro having been stricken with it a few times in the last few years and while I appreciated Lehmo's desire to make certain the show would go ahead I definitely approved of him cancelling his headline spot while he was in the Brown Fountain mode. (A little joke and nod of respect to our audience who make up The Shelf.)
I contacted Karl and let him know I was happy to slot into the headline spot or stay as the host, either position was fine with me. Around 4pm Karl confirmed that I would take over headlining duties and good pal Claire Hooper would fill in as the host. With that in mind I changed my tact and prepared a different set for the show, one that now resembled something closer to the previous two gigs.
Here's the set list:
I Stopped A Fight
Shit In His Hat
Pro Choice/Anti Idiot
Imagine I Might Be A Bad Dad
Destroying Right On Guy
Paul and Basic Instinct
Today's Tragedy Is Tomorrow's Bouncy Castle
I have made some little adjustments to the material since the previous night at The Public Bar attempting to take what I learned from that gig and putting it into action immediately. As an example in the I Stopped A Fight routine there were two stories about me as a kid attempting to stop fights at primary school. At the beginning of the routine I had added a sentence that helped set up the denouement of the story which basically states that often when you attempt to help someone you end up being treated as the bad guy. I now found that the two stories of me being a kid took us too far away from the point of the routine and only one example was needed. I removed the first example because it was the weaker of the two and it paid dividends immediately. I breezed through the beginning of the story and it felt like this was how the routine was always meant to play out.
I also added the loose structure of my new show "Johnny Loves Mary Forever 1994" (tickets can be found here for the Adelaide Fringe) by taking the Shit In His Hat story out of its initial place in the show. I gave it a completely new beginning that would work for this gig and it allowed me to play around with the story before I take a rough version of the show to Hobart and Launceston next week. It worked remarkably well in this format and suggests that it is a rock solid routine if it can work in a completely new context.
I also played with a potential call back idea that I threw in to the Pro Choice routine and that showed enough to make me think it might continue to experiment with it. I managed to make the Pro Choice material more concise and therefore more direct. Sometimes to get a clear message across you don't have to use every word you have been introduced to in every sentence that you speak. (Am I right Russell Brand?) Couple this with an emphasis on performing the material with a slightly confused candour rather than an angry vibe and it felt like it was a marked improvement on the previous gig. Often the difference onstage between an angry performer and a confused performer is bordering on imperceptible as they often use very similar rhythms in their delivery but I find that the person who admits to being confused can draw you in while the angry performer can push you away. This is a personal preference and I think show vulnerability by stating you don't understand a situation will have people on your side more often than not. The angry person is just too shouty sometimes, don't you think?
I felt the gig motored really quickly and after the gig was talking briefly to a young couple when the girl told me that she could have listened to me for much longer. That was the perfect compliment to receive (leave them wanting more kids!) after the gig and it took all my power of concentration not to give both of them a hug. Last night was an improvement on the second show which was an improvement on the first show. This is definitely the right direction not only for the beginning of the year but for your career in general.
10th of January, 2014