I had a moment of realising that I am definitely a man in my forties. When I arrived at the Waratah Hotel there had been a mild snafu in that they'd forgotten to save me a room. I was instead offered the opportunity to share a room with two other people. I'm not one for sharing rooms at the best of times. Even when I'm dating someone I much prefer to sleep alone. Sharing a room with strangers was not big on my agenda. The manager took me up to the room and revealed that I'd be sharing the room with two twenty somethings French girls backpacking around Australia. We walked into the room and there was lacy underwear draped over all the beds (including mine), the cupboards and the shower curtain. There was so much underwear that if it had been in a movie you would have said, "Well, they went over board with that." I looked at the manager and said:
"To be honest I think this would be a little confronting for these girls to come back and find this 41 year old man sharing the room. We're going to have to find something else."
While the manager scooted off to see what he could do I had two thoughts running through my head. First up: wow, I'm really in my forties. To think that way shows a very different mindset to what I would have had once and I just knew that while it was the perfect set up for an "American Pie" styled story I would rather err on the side of caution and not ruin two young girls' trip abroad.
The second thing going through my head was an image of my twenty something self grabbing me by the shoulders and pleading, "What the fuck are you doing? This is the opportunity of a life time." Sorry twenty something me. When you get to my age you'll learn that this was the right mood. I'm not certain he understood but I figured he eventually will, probably in about twenty years time.
I was moved to a small room with a single bed and a fridge that looked like it hadn't been turned on since 1993. I don't want to say it was depressing but it did feel like they'd filmed part of the "Shawshank Redemption" there. This was a room you came to when you had decided you'd had enough of life. I have to stress that everyone at the hotel was very nice and apologetic about the situation but the fact remains it was not ideal.
I was also having to work on my show and getting it ready for the inaugural performance that night. When you're preparing a new show I find the part that is the most difficult is remembering the order in which you have placed the material. I know I play around with the structure to such an extent that it can be difficult to get your head around where the material has to go. To give you an idea of how I work on the structure, I write down the headings for the material and then shuffle the pieces about like a variation on the Burroughs technique. It looks like this:
With so many of the routines given new pay offs the further the show progresses it is important to get your order correct. Normally when performing a gig I'll break down the set list for you to have a look at but since this is the show I'll just name the set list as:
Johnny Loves Mary Forever 1994
I was pretty rapt with how everything progressed last night. Tracey Cosgrove did a great job of hosting the night and the local acts in the first half were sharp and creative. I love watching local acts and had a lot of fun in the first half. I was also remarkable relaxed for someone who was performing a solo show for the first time. I had finished the latest draft on Wednesday night and spent the majority of the day just reminding myself of the order of material. I have told 90% of the routines onstage before so I knew that they worked but now with the additions to the stories even the most polished material has a new cadence to it.
I was also glad that I performed those smaller spots at The Comic's Lounge the previous Friday and Saturday as they had pointed out some flaws in one of the routines. Last night that routines was nice and punchy now that it was whittled down to the bare essentials. I also found some extra humour and stories in the show as I had left plenty of room to ad lib and play with the jokes. Even though I have a full script the majority of the jokes have been developed onstage. The full script is now a reminder and a document for all the work so if I want to look back on it in a few years I won't have to attempt to remember all the little jokes that made up the show.
There is still work to be done though. I was a little clunky with some of the language and one joke early seemed like it took us too far from the narrative but apart from that the show feels like it is well on track. I had no idea where it was until last night and it is gratifying to have so much time up the sleeve. I also have to take into account that the first night of performing is often excellent because you have a plenty of energy and a real focus. The next test will come tonight in Launceston where I will attempt to tell the story as naturally as possible while using what I learned from the show in Hobart.
There will be hiccups along the road. There will be a night where I walk off stage completely doubting the show. There might even be a show where I figure I've made a terrible mistake and maybe I'll quit to become an accountant. For the moment though everything is in the right place and I'm buoyed by this turn of events. Even if twenty something me is still shaking my head at my choice of places to sleep the night.
17th of January, 2014