One of the goals this week has been for me to work on my talking to the audience skills. It has been a part of my hosting abilities that I have let slide in the last couple of years for a number of reasons. Most of the time I don't think many comedians are very good at it. Unless it really pops then I find it frustrating as an audience member and in a lesser comic's hands it can be quite painful to watch. I also go into a lot of gigs with a certain mindset about what I want to achieve with my material so talking to the audience can get in the way of those goals. Yet it is an important skill to have and I think I've been myopic in my opinion of how it can work. It can definitely come in handy especially when you want to get an audience revved up and a bit of bouncing back and forth with punters can be fun. I've also just thought of another reason why I don't like a lot of audience interaction: I hate having punters feel put upon especially when all they want to do is sit back and watch the show. A joke at punter's expense just feels a little mean. Unless it is a heckler who asked for it then I don't think people should be ridiculed for turning up to watch you work.
With all of that in mind I decided that if the opportunity arose I would work on it at the beginning of the set. It would turn out that I would be handed a gift from the comedy gods. The set list was as follows:
Set List One
Riffing On Adelaide
Three Scientists Walk Into A Comedy Show
Set List Two
"Fucking Noah Mate"
Set List Three
Watching Movies Out of Context
Glitter In Invitations
People Wearing Your Glasses
At the beginning of the show I decided to just riff and see what happened. It ended up being a very Adelaide-centric start as I talked about old stories involving ringing Adelaide radio personality Bob Francis on talk back radio as a young adult. There was some fun stuff going on and it was a solid beginning to the show. I was about to launch into a tale about my time in North Adelaide eating at the Blue and White Cafe (home of the legendary A.B.) when three people came in late and sat down near the front. I thought this was a perfect opportunity to have a chat and the punters (one man and two women) provided me with the opportunity to find some of the biggest laughs of the night.
It turned out that they were all scientists and the gentleman was out from the U.K. studying how hard lizards bite. What a great job! We talked about his job and I basically riffed on that idea for a little while. I decided to ask the woman sitting alongside him what her job was and she was a Canadian who was studying seaweed in Adelaide. This all related to topics such as global warming and our government's lack of interest in science. Once again she was a great chatter and really interesting. After riffing with her for a while I moved over to the last girl in the group. I asked her what her vocation was and I quipped that it was going to be difficult to be more interesting than the previous two. Bam! She knocked me out of the park as she told me she studied fish and how they breathe under water.
This part of the show went so well that I knocked off twenty minutes to start the show without using any material and just playing with the scientists. I have to point out this isn't meant to be perceived as me bragging. I just really lucked out by having not only three people who were articulate but also had super interesting jobs that lent themselves to comedic musings. There was so much that could have gone wrong (not very interesting, smart arses, scared etc) but every time we talked something new and exciting was said back in my direction. I would have been a lame act if I didn't find something funny to say to their answers I think.
At the beginning of the second bracket I finally brought out my fan fiction piece on making Russell Crowe's "Noah" more Australian and that tied in nicely with the scientist's talking about global warming or at the very least gave me a good jumping off point. It is a concise piece which allowed me to keep the opening of the second bracket tight. At the beginning of the third bracket I asked Adelaide comedian Nick O'Connell what he'd like to see me perform and he suggested the "people wearing your glasses" piece so I brought that out (not difficult as I had performed it the previous two nights) before George Kapiniaris. I've been enjoying those routines as they're in a state of flux at the moment where they're being stretched out with new ideas and jokes. It is nice to have some old faithfuls finding a new lease of life.
All the comedians on the bill did a great job and George is the ultimate professional knocking out a tight headline spot at the end of the show. Once again it was a great night at the Rhino Room and I know that I really lucked out with the three scientists that I chatted with. After spending nearly two weeks here I have one final gig tonight at Rhino before heading back to Melbourne. Now the challenge is to nail the final show and leave Adelaide on a high. I've had a great time in Adelaide and feel I've achieved a few goals while also having a lot of fun in my old home town.
31st of May, 2014