Before we get into the shows I have to tell you I saw Billy Connolly walking the streets of Edinburgh yesterday. I was sitting in a cafe when I saw him walking toward me. I did my best not to stare and turned my head just slightly away to be polite but as I did I noticed people just staring and pointing. I can't begin to imagine what it must be like to be that famous. My flat mate barely notices me in the house when I'm back in Melbourne. Even though I was attempting to be respectful I too felt that excitement at seeing Billy just wandering casually around the streets so I couldn't fault people for losing their tiny minds when he appeared. My first gig for the day was as a guest on Fan Fiction Comedy. I've performed with my New Zealand friends for a number of years now and I'm always keen to share a stage with them. For those of you who don't know what fan fiction is it is basically where anyone can take a piece of pop culture and write your own story about it. You could write your own version of the story of Harry Potter or a Star Wars prequel that doesn't suck or a reworking of an old nursery rhyme. What I like about it is that there are no rules and so you can just let your imagination run wild. I performed a piece that I had written for the show at this year's Melbourne International Comedy Festival. I had seen the crazy Russell Crowe movie "Noah" and thought it wasn't Aussie enough so my version was entitled, "Fucking Noah Mate!". If you're interested in reading the piece check it out here.
After the gig I did some more flyering before returning to my flat to prepare for the gig. I had given my self the first two shows to get a read on where it was at and while I was pretty happy with them I knew they could be improved. One of the aspects of the show I have to take into account here is that back home in Australia; even if someone hasn't seen me perform before; there is a good chance that they'll have an idea of who I am. Over in Edinburgh pretty much nobody knows who I am and I felt that the beginning of the show was taking time to find its natural momentum. With that in mind I made some changes to help speed up the process. The set list was:
Johnny Loves Mary Forever 1994
What I decided to do was not only move some material around but also introduce some material to the show that would help set the tone a little earlier. The first thing I did was take the routine "Fix Your Flaws" and move it from the second act to the opening of the first. This allowed me to set up the over thinking strand that takes place all the way through the spine of the tale a little earlier. It is also a strong routine and it helps me to punch out some extra jokes in that first ten minutes. By doing this is also helps me fly through the final part of the second act so I can arrive at the third act with a little more momentum. Funnily enough the "Fix Your Flaws" routine was never in any of the previous drafts and was only introduced to replace the "Blurred Lines" routine. This routine is a relatively new one and has never appeared in a show but is now taking on a fairly important significance in the show.
I also decided to spell out the reason for going to Afghanistan with some material about turning 40. Once again this is material that has never appeared in a show but feels like a natural fit here. For an audience that has never seen me before I have to remember to set myself up as quickly and succinctly as possible. The more an audience feels like they know you the quicker they are to laugh. In Australia I could just throw myself straight into the story but here it is important to take time to lay the table again. This might actually not be a bad lesson to apply back home. Maybe I have been a little too confident about this aspect in previous years? When I begin writing the next show it might be a good idea to keep this lesson in the back of my head.
Last night's audience was my biggest yet and with that I think it was the best of the three performances. I am beginning to find my feet and really easing into the show now. There are still changes to be made to help tighten the show. It is interesting that I am having to drop some of the subtleties that were in the Australian performances but it is important to not be precious about this because it is a whole new ball game over here. This was my 20th anniversary of performing in the world of stand up comedy so my gift to me was to get out of my comfort zone, come to Edinburgh and learn some new skills. I'd say so far the gift is paying off. It will be interesting to see where I'm at after another 22 performances of the show.
1st of August, 2014