2014 Gig Eighty One: The Rhino Room

This was my first gig at The Rhino Room since the Adelaide Fringe and when I return I like to attempt to put something together that will be a little different.  I have such affection for Rhino.  From the moment owners Mick Krieg and Charlie Hill Smith asked me to reinvent their comedy night back in the year 2000 ("Where will we be when we're all fully grown?" Jarvis Cocker once sang.  Turns out I'd still be at the Rhino Room...and I consider that a win.) I've felt I can always return to my old stomping grounds to either reinvent myself or get back into the groove.  Since I love coming back I like to try and put together a set that will be more like a one off show than just a normal headline spot. With a packed room Tegan Higginbotham did another excellent job hosting. Watching Tegan work the rooms this week has made me appreciate the Adelaide Comedy scene and how diverse the gigs are to perform in.  Each room from the Marion Hotel to the Tea Tree Gully Hotel to Rhino gives all the comedians a look at slightly different audiences and in the process forces you to work different comedic muscles to make your routines work.  With each gig Tegan has grown in confidence with each performance improving on the previous show.  Tegan kicked it last night and the Adelaide comedians (Dave Webb, Bridget Fahey, Matt Vesely, Michael Bowley and all the way from Sydney my old friend Dave Jory) took advantage of a great crowd.


My set list was the following:


Budget Fury

Biker Corporate Gig

I Heard Gravity

The Dark Knight Documentary

How I Deal With Trauma

If I Were A Superhero

The Kid at Captain America

The Geeks Won

"I Don't Give A Hoot"

Hushed Angry Conversations

The Phone Call


For this set I themed the material to be about optimism and how to attempt to embrace it.  Before you wonder if this was secretly some type of positive reinforcement speech that would indoctrinate people into a weird cult there was still a healthy dose of cynicism and plenty of swearing to even that out.  It also gave me an opportunity to delve into some material that covered the recent budget (Turns out people aren't too rapt with it. I know, what a shock?!) to the nostalgia that I have been feeling more and more.  Old stories about adventures in Adelaide ranging from my days in The Bunta Boys to the early years of my solo career weren't there just to entertain but they were placed early to help set up the story at the end.

In the middle of my set I wanted to talk about new ideas and stories that have occurred recently.  The superhero and Captain America stories are slowly beginning to form and take shape.  They also helped me set up some themes that covered grown ups who can't remember how to embrace their emotions while being surrounded by children who are just honest about who they are.  Once again this was all placed in the middle to help set up the final story.


Tegan hosting by disco ball light.



I then brought in some material from my solo show "Johnny Loves Mary Forever 1994" that helped expand on the themes of children and how they view the world. Finally I finished the gig off with a story from my 2011 show "Circular".  "The Phone Call" hasn't been performed in just over three years but it popped into my head a few days ago and I couldn't stop thinking about it.  Knowing that was going to be my finishing routine I crafter the set list with routines that would help lead up to that tale. What I find really interesting is that when I make a decision about how a show is going to play out I discover I have already been thinking thematically about it subconsciously.

Last night new material rubbed shoulders with older routines and with a bit of tweaking they came together smoothly.  I could easily turn this into a new show and maybe over the next couple of months I'll keep the structure and mix and match the routines within it.  I enjoyed my first two gigs in Adelaide a lot but they were more about having fun and being playful.  Last night's gig has ended up being one of my favourite shows at The Rhino Room.  It is nice to know that 16 years after I first graced that stage I can still find ways to have fun, improve and be spoiled by some of the best audiences in the country.


Justin Hamilton

24th of May, 2014

Croydon, Adelaide