2014 Gig Fifty: Victoria Hotel

Yesterday I was a trapped at the computer for most of the day. I had a quick jaunt into the city for an 8am spot on Syn FM's breakfast radio show and then it was back home to sort out a bunch of work.  In fact the day took much longer than I expected and by the time I was ready to leave the house I had pretty much missed my opportunity to check out someone's show.  I've enjoyed all the shows I've seen so far and was disappointed that there wasn't going to be a chance for me to check something out.  It did work in my favour though as I didn't have to rush into the city and I could just saunter in on my timetable. On the walk into the city I checked out the sky and thought it was looking a little ominous.  Check these photos out:


This was taken just on my iPhone but you can see the dark clouds rolling in.


Nicholson St was deserted at 7.30am.


I like this type of weather and the wander into the city from my place gave me some quiet time.  I didn't take my headphones and just let my brain have some time off from thinking about anything.  By the time I arrived in the city I was in a pretty good mood. In fact I was in such a good mood I had a few people looking at me strangely.  I felt there was that feeling of, "Why is he laughing so much?"  I think it was literally being stuck at the desk all day and then a quiet wander into the city just gave me a lot of energy.  Why am I telling you this?  Well, first check out the set list:


Johnny Loves Mary Forever 1994


When the show began it was a quiet start to the gig.  Once again the first few jokes received laughs but it was a little muted, a little Friday.  Yet I was in such a good mood none of this bothered me and I soon found myself ad libbing quite a bit throughout the show.  I think I even went as far as to get the show in a better shape because I was enjoying myself so much.  Of course I also have that mild fear that I was like Cameron Diaz in "Charlie's Angels".  (If you don't know what I am referencing check this.)

When I first started performing 20 years ago there was the night that Kurt Cobain had committed suicide.  At the show that night a bunch of young and inexperienced comedians walked onstage and attempted to be the first to make jokes about it only to be met with crushing silence.  Not one punter found any of the gags funny.  I remember watching this alongside my comedy partner Damien and Lehmo who was waiting to go on next.  The producer of the room Jack Smith walked up to Lehmo, Damien and me and asked if we had any jokes about Cobain.  We replied that we didn't.  In fact we hadn't even thought about jokes because we thought it was all a bit tragic.  Jack looked at us and told us that when we walked onstage we were to perform with big smiles and the idea that it was the best night of our lives.  Lehmo and then afterward my duo the Bunta Boys ended up having great gigs.

I often now give that mantra to younger comedians.  "Big smiles; best night of your life" is heading down a slightly cheesy road but it can make all the difference.  If you look like you're having fun you can often pull the audience back from an edge of indifference so they too can enjoy a show.  Also if someone is enjoying the show but isn't a big laugher then maybe your fun can be infectious enough that you inspire a bit of ha ha to escape from their faces.

At the end of the show I walked out backstage and checked my phone to see how long I had performed.  I had ad libbed a lot more than I did the previous night and that show had taken me 56 minutes.  Last night the show took 50 minutes.  I still don't quite understand what happened.  I definitely added a lot more to the show but after a quick chat with my techie Hannah there was a quicker pace to the performance.  Hannah said it wasn't detrimental to the show but I was on a roll with the pace.  That is something that I'll have to be more aware of.  In hindsight I wondered if the first few jokes didn't quite land like I would have wanted because I was racing a little?  I didn't record last night's performance so I'm not quite certain what happened.  An interesting result to find at the end of the night though.

It is these little changes in each night, the nuances that can be so different from night to night that make performing at a festival so much fun.


Justin Hamilton

5th of April, 2014

Fitzroy North