2014 Gig One Hundred and Forty Three: Edinburgh Fringe

And so it ends. The marathon that masquerades as the Edinburgh Fringe has finally hit the finishing line for this idiot and it feels like it has simultaneously lasted forever and finished all too soon.  Like most of life really.  I'm not going to talk too much about the actual final show. You've heard or read enough about it by now.  Suffice to say it was a corker of a final show to go out on and as always the set list was:

 

Johnny Loves Mary Forever 1994

 

When I began writing this show I had no idea where it was going to go.  I had been haunted by the image of the woman holding necklaces in the sun on the streets of Kabul. I have never been more terrified in my life than the moment American soldier Buzz and I made eye contact as we drove towards uncertainty, his hand resting on his gun that was holstered on his chest.  I've never felt more exhilarated than when we drove away from her unharmed.  "Chook", Buzz and I felt a little foolish after that experience but it was a moment we experienced together.  To anyone who complained this show wasn't funny enough you missed the point.  That I found any humour in this moment was the real lesson.  Or so I thought.  In fact the real lesson that only became apparent over time was the fact that life is better when experienced together.

Geez, this is getting sentimental, right?

It is 6.30am in Edinburgh and I have beaten the construction workers to the day.  The irony is delicious and if I could I would blare a Trent Reznor inspired re-working of Billy Joel's "Allentown" through Motley Crue sized speakers to help welcome them to the working week.  The construction work that has taken place nearly every morning has been the only downside to this trip but once I'm gone and this is but a memory it will be another ingredient that will help continue to make this all feel so real.  I've loved it over here and wouldn't change anything that happened.

 

Edinburgh by the seaside.

 

I've spent so much time alone over the last couple of years and to be honest I've embraced that lifestyle.  I've needed time to find myself.  I've needed time to heal from traumas that took place six years ago.  No need to go into them but for those who know me you will know exactly what I'm talking about.  Yet that trip to Afghanistan was a turning point and over the last year I've stumbled and fumbled my way back into the swing of things with my friends and loved ones.  Yet it really took me coming to Edinburgh that helped me realise just how important it is for me to share my adventures.

I came looking for lessons.  I have learned new lessons and re-learned old lessons. From today my approach to certain aspects of my life are going to change.  Some I'm happy to share with you now.  For starters this blog will continue in this form until the end of the year but after that I'll be refocusing my efforts on other projects.  The blog will continue but I won't be writing about every gig anymore.  Two years will be enough.  My podcast "Can You Take This Photo Please?" will also change but that will become more apparent in scheduling and over time.

Also my approach to my stand up is going to change.  It is time to take a different path and this will be the final show that takes this form.  Once again it is a time of refreshment and refocusing.  I'll continue to perform but there will be some noticeable differences by the time next year's show unveils itself.  Will I return to Edinburgh? Who knows at this stage but I'd like to think that is definitely on the cards.

I loved spending time with all of my Australian comedic friends over here.  It is a real bonding experience to see so many people I admire working their arses off and if you haven't been here and seen it for yourself you'll never really understand the work that everybody puts in.  Also the people who work behind the scenes who help prop us up deserve a lot of love too.  I'm going to quickly mention three people that help summarise my experience here.

First up is Heather Ruck.  Rucky has been a good friend of mine for years now.  I travelled with Rucky and Wil Anderson around most of Australia touring town after town and I can say unequivocally that she is a true legend.  We have shared so many adventures and that she gave me an opportunity to come here and to tell my little story at a great venue like the Assembly Theatre is not taken for granted.  There has been talk about the Free Fringe here being important for comedians to find their rights, their place to shine without being taken advantage of by "greedy" venue promoters.  I'm not going to weigh into that topic as it is too complicated and I don't know every fact but I will say this:  someone like Rucky believes in every act she books.  She puts important people into play behind the scenes and does everything she can so the artist is supported and given every opportunity to succeed.  I would rather pay good money to work for someone like Rucky who I know has my back at every moment of every day.  She's a good egg and anyone who has worked with her would never question her commitment to the art or the artist.

That brings me to Katie and Oliver who were my techies throughout the run.  Both of them were delightful and every night felt like we'd shared an experience that was unique to the three of us.  Between weird people in the audience to this idiot sleeping in and nearly missing my first show with a full house; they've been professional and fun to work with. You need a great bond with your techie and you don't always experience that in a season. I lucked out having two great individuals who helped make up my team.

 

Oliver, Katie and this guy!

 

Many years ago when I had more hair and less grey in the beard...actually back when I didn't have a beard...I watched a young kid perform in Adelaide who had a very different approach to any of the acts that were coming through the ranks in my hometown.  I thought she was pretty ace and I offered her the opportunity to come to Melbourne to support me at the Melbourne Comedy Festival.  This kid did just that and over the next two years she not only supported me in my show but also learned how to get ahead in this business.  Then over time we lost touch.  Nothing bad happened but life gets in the way and sometimes the world will take you away from the people you're closest.  This year I had an opportunity to see this kid put on her solo show at the Fringe. She's no longer a kid of course.  Now she's a fully grown adult human and watching her perform in her sold out show made me feel proud and wistful. It is funny but it might be the closest feeling I've had to watching a kid sister grow up. The day I watched Bec Hill nail her show was when I realised that everything that began in Afghanistan was leading up to this moment.  She didn't know it but Bec came to represent the most important lesson I needed to learn here.  Everything really is more fun when you're truly connected with people.

 

Bec Hill after her final show.

 

What the hell is going on with this blog?  I'm getting sentimental in my old age.  I'm going to bail before the Oscar music begins to play.  Suffice to say I've loved this experience. From everyone at the Assembly to all the people working on the streets. From new friends like the Aunty Donna boys to good pals like Cal Wilson that flyered every day no matter what the circumstances.  From my flat mates Rhys and Rebecca to the dudes I bought coffee from.  From the laughing fit in Sam Simmons' show to the really tasty but possibly life threatening crepes I shared with Claire at 3am. From the bonding experience that many of us shared when we discovered Robin Williams was gone from the world to the important UK manager who spoke to me thinking I was my manager Kevin.  From the old fans who trekked to the other side of the world to the new fans who made their way from all over the UK to check out the show.  All of it has been great and there aren't enough words to explain why.

I'm having a little break for a while so I'll be back with this blog sometime early in September.  There are more changes coming your way but you'll have to wait to see what they are.  I've regenerated (here's hoping I score the Capaldi eyebrows) and it is time to learn who this new version of me is going to be.  I'm excited and hope you'll stick around for the ride.

 

Justin Hamilton

25th of August, 2014

Edinburgh