2014 October Gigs: 158 - 162 From Comedy at Crown to Society

Recently my friend sent me a photo of a new Batman video game he's been playing and it turns out the two of us are inexplicably entwined no matter the format:  

That's a sign, right?  I mean literally a sign.

 

Only a few days ago I saw Christopher Nolan's "Interstellar" and loved it.  It may be my favourite Nolan film but I concede I am in the giddy after glow of seeing the movie so I won't set that statement in stone just yet.  It will definitely be divisive though.  I can imagine people hating the film but it ticked a lot of boxes for me.  It is a film that deals with space travel and has a touch of Kubrick, Spielberg and the underrated 70s film "Silent Running".  I like big ideas married to basic human expression.  It has Matthew McConaughey in top form and plays with ideas like "string theory" that I find fascinating even if I don't quite have a proper grasp on it.  It made me very happy and also makes it difficult to talk about anything else.  Anyway, onto the gigs because that is why you're here.

On the 19th of October we had our first of four shows at Crown Entertainment. Earlier in the year we locked in a seven week season that was hugely successful. This time we have a four week season and I'm hosting all four shows.  With a line up that included Tegan Higginbotham, Luke McGregor and headliner Peter Helliar we got off to a cracking start. The show was sold out and everybody kicked it straight through the goals. As the host I knocked out the following:

 

1st Bracket

 

Partying During the Week

Can’t Drink Anymore

 

2nd Bracket

 

Before the Internet

“I Don’t Give a Hoot!”

Hushed Angry Conversation

 

For the opening night I broke down some of my new material from my new show and married it with some routines that I enjoy performing.  I can't remember the last time I did the Partying During the Week routine but like an old pal suddenly turning up on your doorstep the routine popped into my head onstage and made a welcome return. It was interesting to use the newer pieces independently of the routines that have surrounded them so far but they held strong on their own and that gave me some confidence.

Unfortunately on this night I hurt my lower back to such an extent it was difficult to walk up and down the stairs onto the stage.  I'd had some minor back issues the week before but on this night something gave and it was quite painful.  I've had one or two back complaints in the past but they usually were the result of a sporting knock.  This initial issue came from (and let the sniggering commence) sitting in the one position for too long while working on a jigsaw.  Watch out action heroes of the world, I'm ready to take you on! It had annoyed me for about a week and a half but I figured I just needed to stretch it out. By this opening night at Crown I was in proper agony.

The following day I booked in time with an osteopath who worked out that I had indeed hurt my back doing something else entirely and the jigsaw moment was just the catalyst for it turning into pain.  It is still a funny image though and I implore people who are young to just stay young forever.  Getting older is bullshit.  I feel for the most part like an idiot still in his thirties but when your back goes while you're looking for a blue jigsaw piece you are suddenly reminded you are falling apart.

 

Opening night was packed with headliner Peter Helliar.

 

For the next three days I lived on pain killers and loved them so much I had fantasies about entering my Matthew Perry on "Friends" phase.  Visions of losing too much weight while being addicted to pain killers allowed me to dream of shaving my beard to reveal a pristine yet mildly undernourished jawline to great fanfare.  Alas by the time I hit my gig on the Thursday night at Howler's Comedy I had discovered the downfall of pain killers. The set list on the 23rd of October was:

 

Kid at the movies

The Nerds Won

Before the Internet

Can’t Drink Anymore

“I Don’t Give A Hoot!”

Hushed Angry Conversation

 

I was all over the place for this gig.  I couldn't concentrate, I didn't have any urgency in my performance and I completely blanked on some words and routines.  It wasn't the nicest of situations to find myself in but I was just out of it.  After the gig fellow comic Dil Jayasinha told me that he didn't notice anything wrong but I did feel that I was slightly off.  It ended up being a frustrating gig as I was looking forward to performing on the same bill as Dil, Nick Cody and Mick Molloy that night.  After the gig there wasn't much for me to learn from the experience other than maybe pain killers weren't the way forward for me.  I had felt tentative with my movement onstage but other than that there were no positives to take from the gig from my perspective.

My next gig was headlining the Comic's Lounge.  I had been asked to replace another comedian in that spot and I knew this was potentially a big test.  My back was feeling pretty good by this stage so physically I felt fine.  Where the test was coming from was that it was time to give my new material a go in a big room.  I have stated before in this blog and on my podcast that I feel I have a 90% hit rate with new material being performed for the first time.  It is after a few performances that it begins to hit the wall a little.  The reason is you don't have the excitement of saying it for the first time powering you forward. You also don't know it back to front like your best material so you're a little all over the place with your timing and comfort.

I needed to get a read on the new material and this was the perfect scenario.  I knew that practically nobody would be there to see me specifically as I was filling in.  I have also performed a fair bit at the Lounge and I needed to bring in some new routines to keep it fresh.  This was a great opportunity to see how the new would fly.  Here is the set list to the gig on the 25th of October:

 

Kid at the movies

The Geeks Won

Before the Internet

Can’t Drink Anymore

Fix Your Flaws

“I Don’t Give a Hoot!”

Hushed Angry Conversation

Glitter in Invitations

Spooning

 

I felt that the head line spot went okay.  I know the material that would fill that room easily but if I want my new routines to be strong in February next year it needs a baptism of fire like this one.  I never felt I'd lost the audience but there were definitely some aspects to the new that went better than others.  Talking about drinking and what the world was like before the internet?  Great.  Talking about the rise of nerd culture and dropping some Dungeons and Dragons/N.W.A. references?  Not so much.  Yet if you want to be able to work as many different styles of clubs in the country as you can you need to be able to make what you talk about work all the time. It was a step that had to be taken.  Of course I finished off with some routines I haven't performed in ages and it turns out everybody still loves Spooning so I at least left them with a fan favourite.  I felt like The Knack churning out a brand new album and then making everyone happy with a final song rendition of "My Sharona".

 

My friend says this is the look I get on my face any time I'm asked to do something I don't want to do.

 

The following day it was back to Comedy at Crown with another stellar line up that included Tommy Little, Anne Edmonds and Michael Workman.  Another great show and one that had me delving into my back catalogue of routines.  I don't like to repeat myself in a season of gigs so rather than go back to the new it was time to pull out some routines from one of my favourite shows, "Circular".  Here are the set lists for the show on the 26th of October:

 

1st Bracket

 

Annoying Woman

 

2nd Bracket

 

Kid at Wedding

Breaking Up Through History

 

I'd forgotten how much fun the "Annoying Woman" routine was to perform.  In late September I had hit a wall and forgotten how to write a routine.  I had taken this story and reverse engineered it by breaking it down to the small jokes to remind myself of how I put the routine together.  I had performed a different version of it at The Local but this version is perfectly sound and a lot of fun.  I might bring it back for a few shows here and there as I'd forgotten how much I like that story.  Another great show and night at Crown.

My final gig for October was at Society and I was hosting the show for headliner Fiona O'Loughlin.  Based in the city the gig was packed but immediately I knew it was a similar situation to The Comic's Lounge where there was nobody in the audience who was there to see me.  It was definitely Fiona's audience and once again D & D/N.W.A. references were going to be tough to sell.  Yet once again it was the perfect setting for the audience to be performed.  If you want the routines to become stronger you have to bite the bullet.  With that in mind here is the set list for the gig:

 

1st Bracket

 

Kid at the movies

The Nerds Won

Before the Internet

Can’t Drink Anymore

 

2nd Bracket

 

Fix Your Flaws

“I Don’t Give a Hoot!”

Hushed Angry Conversation

What She Likes About Me Now

 

The opening went pretty well all things considered.  With the gig starting at 7.00pm it was still light outside so I what I ended up doing was a little longer at the top as I watched the sun set outside.  It make such a difference to a show when the sun is out and I figured if I weathered the natural light that was brightening up the room it would mean the gig would be better in the long run.  It took a while but by the time the audience had warmed up it was practically night time.

I feel like my new material is going through the awkward teenage years.  It has bad skin, bad teeth, a terrible odour and a cracking voice.  If you look through all of that though you can see the routines will grow up to be sparkling young adults, you just have to persevere through the awkwardness.  I was really happy with how it went down at Society and even managed to pinpoint a few mistakes I was making with the new routines.  I took a little longer onstage to explain an idea or an extra beat to ground a routine.  With those little adjustments made it helped for people to be able to jump on board with an idea that may have not been initially that interesting for them.

Then it was off to see Interstellar and rave, rave, rave etc.  I'll save the ravings for the next podcast from "The Shelf" or my own "Can You Take This Photo Please?" Apart from the back complaints (that appear to have disappeared...fingers crossed) it was a good testing ground and learning experience for the new material.  I'm hoping the slight stumbles the routines endured now will mean they'll be tip top and fighting fit by the first festival of 2015.

 

Justin Hamilton

2nd of November, 2014

Fitzroy North