It was another week of hosting for me at The Local and therefore another opportunity to get myself back on track after the festival. Normally I prefer to perform a few shows in a row to rediscover the rhythm of my routines but after the last couple of weeks I've been happy to ease back into performing life. I had my friend Scottie's (or as I'll always remember him "Scottie Next Door" for when he lived in the townhouse alongside mine on Leicester Street) funeral the previous Wednesday and it was an opportunity to say goodbye to a pal and accept that this tragedy had indeed taken place. When you learn about something through social media there is a surreal aspect to the news because everything feels "unreal" on the net. I knew Scottie had died. I knew how it happened. Yet it wasn't until I was at the funeral that this fact became real and any hope that it was a terrible misunderstanding was put to rest. After seeing some beautiful speeches at the funeral and then spending time with some of my closest friends over the next few days I felt the melancholy slowly lift from my shoulders. I began to have an interest in what was taking place outside in the real world and have taken baby steps to reconnect with people. Having my first two gigs back a week apart gave me plenty of time to remember why this is my job and why I have loved it for twenty years now. As I stated in the last blog it was time to get to work.
Janet McLeod had booked another strong line up and I wanted to do the night justice. I had some new ideas and a couple of routines that I haven't performed for a while that I wanted to see if they still had some juice in them. Before the gig I played around with some possible orders for the gags and then threw all of the aside and figured I'd just work it out onstage. Here are the set lists:
Set List One
Attended a Funeral
The Kid at Captain America
The Dark Knight Documentary
If I Were A Superhero
The Geeks Won
Felix and Twitter
In Between Acts:
Set List Two
Breaking Up Through History
Laughing In Greek Class
Laughing At A Funeral
Tripping and Farting
From the moment I walked onstage I felt there was a great vibe in the room. The first few shows after a festival have just taken place can be difficult to get going. There is a level of fatigue for everybody involved: the audience, the comedians, the producers, the bar staff etc. While the previous week had been a good night this one was excellent. It felt like the audience was in tune from the beginning and gave me a lot of confidence to ad lib and play around.
I had some ideas of where I wanted to go and dealt with the feelings I had experienced at the funeral upfront. Don't worry, I didn't mistake the gig for a catch up with a psychiatrist. There were plenty of gags in the opening that I used to segue into some new material that had been inspired by my trip to the movies on the weekend. In fact the topic of the funeral was a jumping off point to talk about my inability to tap into true emotion and how best to express those ideas. It was invigorating to feel new ideas taking form onstage. I don't know if these routines will stick around for long but it was just nice to be back onstage and playing with new material.
I did notice there was a little bit of stumbling on my behalf when it came to a few words but as of this year I have decided to be kind to myself about any stumbles. My friend (and director of my Melbourne International Comedy Festival show) Declan Fay pointed out that after one of my gigs he could read when I was angry at myself for stumbling on a word while performing. I'm not certain that is the best vibe I should be giving off while telling gags so I've attempted to eradicate that problem by not beating myself up for any minor mistakes that occur. So far it has appeared to work and it does lend itself to me enjoying the moment more rather than thinking about it throughout the rest of the performance. Who says you can't learn new tricks 20 years into your career?
At the beginning of the second I was a little out of whack and didn't quite connect with the first routine I chose to perform. I'm not certain why as I love performing that piece normally but I just felt a little out of tune with it and ended up delivering the final line almost apologetically. I think I knew I wasn't quite into it and unfortunately let the audience know by losing focus. This may have been due to the ad libbing throughout the show that made me feel too rehearsed for the first routine. What I ended up doing after this was starting one routine (Tripping and Farting) and then improvising out of the story into another couple of stories before bringing it back to the original tale I was telling. It added the necessary looseness to the beginning of the second half and I was much happier once I played around with the structure of the stories.
I am very grateful to have had these two shows at The Local to find my way after the drama of the previous two weeks. I felt like I found the energy that I had lost and also the creativity that had appeared to have dried up for a short time. With a gig tonight at The Public Bar, a gig on the weekend at Crown and a two week run in Adelaide coming up it feels like I might be back on track.
14th of May, 2014