I often find the writing process for a new show to be a bit of a mystery. I've never worked on any two solo shows with a similar formula. After "Johnny Loves Mary Forever 1994" toured Tasmania, the Adelaide Fringe, the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and finally the Edinburgh Fringe, it was time for something different. My previous solo show before that "The Goodbye Guy" was relatively heavy and "JLMF1994" definitely had some darker moments (I guess you can't have a moment in your life where you think you might explode and not have it touch on some darkness) so it was time to change pace.
One of my management team asked me during the Edinburgh Fringe what I might like to do next. At this point I had no idea. I'd just written and performed a show about touring Afghanistan and the idea of having to think of a whole new hour of stand up didn't thrill me. Unfortunately with 2015 festival deadlines looming it was time to at least come up with a title. I went with the first thought that came to mind and that is how "Snacks" was born.
I was meeting my audiences at the door in Edinburgh and found it interesting how few people knew what the name of the show was or even what the show was about. I can't help but wonder if it is a small percentage of punters that pay attention to these details. You might be reading this thinking, "Nah, we all know the titles to shows". Yet I'd say if you're reading this blog you're probably a massive comedy nerd or a comedian (or both!) so you're automatically taken off the board when it comes to the answer. For the most part I think most punters pay no attention whatsoever. "Snacks" is an easily identifiable title and also a nice in-joke for any fans that have followed my stand up for the past year.
Still I had no idea what the show was going to be about and even less idea where to begin. I was bereft of inspiration throughout September and had a trip back to Adelaide looming. When I return to my home town I like to take as much new material as possible. Regardless of whether anyone back home is paying attention I think it is important for me to return with new ideas to hopefully set a good example to the locals back home. I'm probably talking up the importance of my trips back to Adelaide but if one local sees me working on new material as a positive example then that is enough.
I had two routines that I used in Edinburgh that were new ideas so I could bring them out in Adelaide. I also had a new routine about drinking that was finding some form in Melbourne. I had some other pieces that were one liners or small jokes floating about so on the Wednesday I sat down and began to put it together. I wrote new routines and fleshed out some of the ideas. I was inspired by an outing with some friends where we attempted to find a common meal we could share and that turned into a high concept routine about Vikings. I rewrote the drinking material and found a personal story that fitted in nicely at the beginning of the routine that helped ground it in a "show not tell" scenario.
That night I performed at the Marion Hotel and the new material went down really well. At the end of the night I had 35 minutes of what appeared to be some solid ideas and routines. The host that night was the lovely Irish comedian Eddie Bannon who made some comments about the set that got the imagination working over time. I talked about this with Adelaide Comedy promoter Craig Egan and we threw about some ideas that bounced off the back of Eddie's comments.
On the Thursday I listened back to the gig and implemented some changes while writing some new jokes. That night up at the Tea Tree Gully Hotel I performed all the new material and it came in at the 40 minute mark. I was pretty pleased with how much smoother the routines were and figured if I could return to Melbourne with 40 minutes of new then that would leave me in a good solid place for next year. Egan and I talked about the set on the way home and we workshopped some new ideas that I would implement the following night.
When I perform the feature spot at the Rhino Room I like to do my best to make it more of an event than just another gig. With 40 minutes of new I wrote some extra jokes and played around with the format a little. I figured that should make a good feature spot at my old stomping grounds. That night the audience was electric and the local acts were possibly the best I'd seen them in recent times. By the time I was introduced the room was full of energy and I did my best to ride that wave.
When I finished I checked my recording and saw that the feature spot had come in at 54 minutes. It had a beginning, middle and end. All the routines thematically linked through the set and while it doesn't have one big story to tell it feels extremely cohesive. I walked offstage and had Egan along with a few of the local acts ask me, "Is that your new show?"
The answer is, "Yes".
The set list for the Marion Hotel, Tea Tree Gully Hotel and Rhino Room was:
The show can be broken into four categories: nerd culture, politics, who I am today and Vikings. I'll just leave it at that for now.
On the Saturday night I hosted the Rhino Room and had a blast. What was looking like a small audience turned into quite a big one that consisted of women having a girl's night out, a buck's party, some young locals and a couple of people from interstate and overseas. A wide selection of people who turned a possible slow night into a great night. The set list for this show was:
Riffing with the audience
Can't Drink Anymore
Fix Your Flaws
What She Likes Now She'll Hate Later
"I Don't Give a Hoot!"
Hushed Angry Conversations
It is always a surprise to know how a show is going to come together. It is never the same way twice. Mid September I had no idea what my show was going to be about. Two weeks later my show is ready to go. I'll spend the rest of the year honing the material and making some tweaks where necessary. It also puts me in a good position to concentrate on another project that I am hankering to begin. For now though I am pretty excited about the new show and taking it to Perth, Adelaide and Melbourne early in 2015.
7th of October, 2014