The last time I performed at Crab Lab it was known as Checkpoint Charlie. Since then comedians Greg Larsen and Brendan Maloney have not only taken over the night but also added their own spin on the gig. They have moved the gig upstairs into a tighter space that has a unique look that helps to give the show a new flair. Here is host Steele Saunders performing in front of the backdrop from last night:
As you can see the room has a nice look that is all its own. I'm not certain my photo does it quite justice but as I stated at the top it also has a focus that downstairs didn't naturally have. The previous producers did a great job of giving the room focus but upstairs it happens a little more naturally.
I hadn't performed here since the Greg and Brendan had taken over so it was a good opportunity to come down and see what they were up to. I had a couple of new ideas floating around in my head that I had wanted to give a run onstage but having been burnt in some rooms that were a little "soft" for new material in recent weeks I kept my cards close to my chest. I decided I'd watch how Steele's opening would play out and then go from there. I enjoyed the room from the moment Greg introduced the night and made my mind up then that I would play with some of the new ideas. The set list was as follows:
Good Day For The Race
Breaking Up With My Phone
I Stopped A Fight
The opening joke is one that I'm not certain I'll perform again but since it happened on the day I was keen to see how it would go. Since I was fourteen years old I have loved a pretty hokey joke that goes like this:
"Good day for the race."
"The human race!"
I originally read it in an issue of the original Hellblazer comic (I think it may have been the first issue) and the character of John Constantine had bamboozled someone with it. The joke itself is what is commonly referred to as a "Dad joke" but it isn't the joke that makes me laugh but the fact that it only works now and again. If you say to someone, "A good day for the race" you need the immediate response to be, "What race?" Very rarely does anyone say that. Invariably the other person will just look at you and say, "Yeah" or "I guess it is" or "I'm not into racing" or many other responses. I have been saying this joke for 27 years and it has worked four times. Four times! When I receive the wrong response I never go on to explain what I was talking about, I just let it slide and enjoy the awkwardness of a conversation that goes nowhere.
The last time it worked was about four years ago when I was working on Triple M with Charlie Pickering. We had a caller on the line who was being very polite and just for shits and giggles I gave him the, "Good day for the race" line. When he responded with, "What race?" Pickering and I immediately made eye contact. This was about to happen! Pickering and I have had many great moments together but I would honestly put this up there in our top three. Subsequently the joke hasn't worked since.
By the way I need to point out that when it has "worked" nobody laughs because it is a shit joke. That isn't the point. The point for me is that I stick with it and embrace these minor victories in life, these moments when the gag receives the correct response that allows me to deliver the terrible line. Yesterday I was in a cab and the joke worked for the fifth time. I was pumped. It made me very happy. So I thought I would start with it and I'm not certain it was the best opening gag I've ever attempted but I enjoyed talking people through this joke.
The next piece was a bit I've been thinking about for a while. Ever since my iPhone was stolen after the opening night of The Shelf last season I had such a weird night wondering about what was going on with it that it inspired an idea for a routine. I decided last night would be the show to try it out and I'm glad that I did. It needs some work but I think the basic structure is there. Big props to Daniel Townes who suggested a joke for the routine that worked a treat onstage. Some of my favourite nights are sitting around and suggesting gags to fellow comedians and then watching them use that gag onstage. I love being on the receiving end of a joke suggestion too and Daniel added a nice piece that helped not only move the narrative along but also was a funny joke.
I finished with a routine that I know but is still pretty fresh. Always good to finish with material you know works so if a piece isn't working earlier you know you can end strong. I enjoyed the gig a lot and would have loved to have hung around but I had an early start to today so had to bail on the second half. This is definitely the type of room I'd be keen to come back to and work on some new material there. It is good to have a venue that has people like Brendan and Greg working hard to make a successful night.
5th of February, 2014