2014 Gig Fifty Four: The Shelf

Did you miss The Shelf last night?  If so you missed this line up:  

Wil Anderson

Hannah Gadsby

James Acaster

Cal Wilson

Claire Hooper

Justin Hamilton

Adam Richard

Lehmo

Tegan Higginbotham

Corey White

Lessons With Luis

Wizard Sandwiches

Alice Fraser

Tracey Cosgrove

Fan Fiction Comedy featuring Joseph Moore

 

 

The calm before the storm.

 

With this show I hit the half way point of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. My first show was on the 24th of March when we held a special preview of "Johnny Loves Mary Forever 1994" for all of our season ticket holders.  Since then it has been work every day and gigs every night without a break.  The Shelf is the hardest night of the week because so much goes into every show including the wrangling of comics and the energy it requires on the night.  As I stated last week I haven't had time to write some new material so I went way back into the vaults for a story I haven't told in years.  The set list for my opening was:

 

Fire Trap Gives Me The Barry

Journalists Ask About Terrible Gigs

Mount Isa

"I Heard Gravity"

Biker Corporate Gig

 

I took this photo 25 minutes before the show was scheduled to begin.

 

We had a packed out audience and I riffed off the top about how if there was a fire I would not only survive but it would inspire me to write a show that would win me The Barry for best show at next year's M.I.C.F.  It is a dark way to begin a gig but our audience is so fantastic they not only went with it but understood it was more a take down of the semi serious comedy shows you might see at the festival.  Yes, I was having a crack at me and the type of show I'm performing just in case you weren't certain that I had missed the irony.

Journalists are mad for asking us about terrible gigs and that gave me a jumping off point to get into some old material.  I'm not certain whether I have performed the "I Heard Gravity" story onstage before.  I think I have but I don't have the time to go through all my previous entries to find out if I did.  Anyway it popped into my head and I figured I'd throw it out there and it fitted in nicely with the theme.

I also ad libbed a comment that I had made on Wil Anderson's podcast "FOFOP" about never having a bad gig and was surprised at the genuine and spontaneous applause of acknowledgement from the audience.  I thought it might be a nice throw away but the response was one of recognition and it took my completely by surprise.  I wasn't certain if I was going to mention it or nor in this blog but I had my suspicions confirmed by Shelf super fan Ethan Lesh on Facebook who wrote to me about that exact moment.  I'm glad I wasn't lost up my own arse with that moment and a bit thanks to Ethan for confirming it for me.

The story about performing a corporate gig for bikers with fellow comedian Mickey D occurred somewhere around the turn of the century and is a story that I haven't performed for a long time.  Between last week's "What's a bit of wrinkle..." routine and last night's story I had forgotten how much I enjoyed them in their day.  I don't know if I could find the same energy performing them on a regular basis now but they might be good to keep in my back pocket for gigs further down the track.

I was rapt not only with the audience last night but also the acts.  I had a bunch of comedians who hadn't performed at The Shelf before (Wizard Sandwiches, Corey White, Tracey Cosgrove and UK comedian James Acaster) who fitted in like they've always been a part of the line up.  Getting the balance correct between new and established comedians is part of the joy of putting the show together.  Introducing new acts to our audience is incredibly exciting not only for the crowd but also the comedian. We have such a loyal and smart following that a lot of these acts can be assured to score some ticket sales out of their appearance.

 

Thank you to Rebecca Dunbar for taking this photo.

 

The highlight of the night for me was sown at the end of the first bracket. Somehow for the first time ever The Shelf was running to time.  I made the mistake of mentioning this onstage and out bounded co-host Adam Richard and floating Wil.  We proceeded to ad lib enough that the show was now 20 minutes behind schedule.  As the night continued we became more and more behind time and ended up finishing an hour after what I had planned for.  Brilliantly the majority of the audience (and when I say majority I mean 90% of the audience) stayed around for the end.  Only one person I knew had to leave and that was one of the main instigators of getting the show behind time:  Wil.  He was out of there with about two acts to go.  Hilarious.  As we have pointed out before The Shelf isn't about a tidy night out.  Every show aims for the fence and I feel if it wasn't bloated, unwieldy and full of moments where we say things we sort of wish we hadn't then it actually wouldn't be the show we love to be a part of.

Next week's show is the final show for The Shelf for the next six months.  I'm guessing at this point the earliest it will return will be mid November so if you're keen to check it out you should head here to book your tickets.  This is well on the way to selling out and I'm guessing will be a cracking way to finish the season.

 

Justin Hamilton

8th of April, 2014

Fitzroy North