I've been asked recently to help put together a season of comedy down at Crown Entertainment and Sunday night was our opening show. Here is how the room was looking before the show began:
I had gone down earlier to help with the set up but everything was ready to go by the time I arrived. This allowed me to concentrate on working on intro music and walking the techie Oscar through how the night was going to work. Our audience was going to be a mix of comedy savvy fans (as an example I sent out some free tickets to our season ticket holders for The Shelf) and guests of Crown who probably wouldn't see a lot of stand up. With that in mind I booked a show that would cater for both needs.
It was expected that I would host for the first show but I knew that there was someone else who was much better for that role and instead I booked Dave O'Neil. Dave has so much experience and is an incredible host. He slips in and out of routines with ease while talking to the audience and keeping the night rolling. With Dave hosting I booked Claire Hooper for the first bracket (give the audience someone they would know from her television and radio work), I was on in the second bracket (I filled the hairy quotient for the night) and finish with the hottest comedian in the country at the moment Denise Scott (who amongst all of her achievements also just won the Barry Award for best show at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival).
Everybody did a great job and it was an excellent start to the seven week season. Once I had the first break sorted and with Dave kicking off the second bracket I had some time to myself to sort my set list out:
Partying During the Week
Invite To Parties
Little Boy Joke
I Stopped A Fight
Watching Movies Out of Context
Glitter In Invitations
People Wearing Your Glasses
I regained a little swagger from this gig. For starters it was nice to be able to get onstage and not have to host. Dave is such an amazing host and had done such a great job thus allowing me to have fun with my time. It is a luxury when you can sit back and watch the show to get your head around the room and having two excellent comics in the first bracket (Hoops and Dave) gave me plenty of insight into how to prepare.
It was also nice to be able to mix and match my material for the first time in a long time. When I perform at The Local I feel there are enough comedy fans there that maybe a percentage of them have seen some of my stuff so I like to find as much new material as possible. This is a different type of gig in that there were a high percentage of people who don't go to comedy gigs often so I could mix and match with whatever material I felt like performing. It was fun and I think shook out a lot of the rust that had built up of late. It also reminded me that this is what I do and blew some doubts that had begun to settle in the back of my head.
When you slip into a malaise ( that can be brought on by bad gigs, something happening in your personal life, a lack of energy etc) it is easy to begin to doubt yourself. If it is due to a bad gig I like to get back onstage as quickly as possible to blow the doubt out of my joints. When you've had something personal it is a bit more difficult to find your way moving forward but after my spot I felt "right" again. I'm not saying it was the most brilliant set but it was importantly a lot of fun. I enjoyed myself again. The second gig at The Local had brought me back from the precipice, the Public Bar had reminded me how I can craft a spot and the Crown gig showed me how to have fun again.
It is amazing that after a successful couple of seasons of performing during the festivals that you can begin to doubt yourself so quickly but after Scottie's death I was lost for a moment. My managers recognised it when I had a meeting with them and they wisely rescheduled our meeting. I think if we'd gone through with the meeting that day I may have walked away from stand up (even for just a little while) but after these shows I'm feeling like maybe, just maybe, I'm back.
Now I have a couple of weeks in Adelaide to build on the confidence and work on some new routines. I'm looking forward to flying in tomorrow and getting to work. Also it will be an opportunity to unleash the beard I have grown which is getting some good feedback. I have decided to take that as a compliment and not as a subtle "I love that you're covering your face up".
20th of May, 2014