2014 November Gigs: 163 - 165 Crown, Ballarat, Crown and Interstellar.

Sometimes a picture will sum up where you're at more precisely than words.  

Make of that what you will.

 

Before we get into the show side of this blog I'll share with you some thoughts on "Interstellar".  I have been feeling the Nolan backlash amongst young film students and cool website reviewers brewing since "Inception".  This was always bound to happen. When you have something as popular as "The Dark Knight" winning over critics and fanboys alike the only way left to go is down.  In fact it was a throw away comment by Robert Downey Jnr where he stated that his movies didn't require a university degree to understand them (in regards to Nolan) that alerted me to the beginning of this slide. I didn't even pass high school let alone attend uni so I guess that must make me a latent genius, right Robbie?

When "The Dark Knight Rises" came out there were many complaints that this isn't what Batman would do in a proper story.  Not taking into account how beautifully it ties into "Batman Begins" fan boys found it difficult to reconcile a story that is emotionally deep and ends with Bruce being happy to pass on the mantle.  It must hurt every impotent fantasy that curdles in the mind of the beleaguered nerd that anyone with such power would give it all way for peace of mind.  The lines on their faces and the exasperated flinging of hands in the air often suggested they were thinking, "Nah, he'd just smash fuckheads for the rest of his life".  Yet that wasn't the story Nolan was telling.  They wanted more of the same like the previous Batman adventure.  In the eyes of many this wasn't very masculine at all.

It was also interesting to note the anti-intellectualism argument rear with critics decrying that Nolan was aiming too high with his silly little tales.  Maybe he should just keep his blockbusters firmly placed in down on the ground alongside the other blockbusters that have the decency to know their place?  Perhaps if Nolan were American he would be feted with more praise?  Maybe there should be more overt moments of characters gushing their feelings rather than the coolness that Nolan is accused of?

I should also point out that I have no interest in being one of those Nolan fans who believes he is beyond criticism.  I think it took him a while to find a way to write credible female characters and while I thoroughly enjoy "The Prestige" and "Inception" I don't really have an emotional connection to any of the lead characters. In fact the supporting characters that Rebecca Hall plays in "The Prestige" and Cillian Murphy in "Inception" receive moments more poignant and emotional than anyone.  So while I love his work and have enjoyed every one of his movies I have no interest in aligning myself with any movements that declare he is beyond reproach.

After seeing "Interstellar" I have decided that it is my favourite Nolan movie.  It taps into interests from my childhood (astronauts and space travel), has the DNA of some of my favourite movies ("2001: A Space Odyssey" is an obvious one but "The Right Stuff", "Silent Running" and some Spielberg flourishes are also there), old fashioned heroes (there is a reason the lead hero is called "Cooper"), science (string theory, worm holes) and straight out adventure.  I found the big moments thrilling and the smaller moments touching.  There is an ambition to the movie that I haven't seen in a blockbuster for a while.  There were a lot of boxes ticked for me while watching this film and I have been unable to put it out of my mind.  I often joke that the "Dark Knight Trilogy" is the best documentary I've seen.  "Interstellar" is the movie event that reminded me of the joy I felt when I would attend the cinema as a child.  I can't ask any more than that.

 

If I'm being honest I'm probably thinking about the movie in this picture.

 

I started November off with show three at Crown Entertainment.  Over the course of the four show season I attempt to avoid repeating material as best as I can.  This can be difficult sometimes in between acts when you're looking for just the right joke to break up the first half.  This has been a difficult season to host as the light that streams through the windows bathes the audience in the glow that shuffled all the characters of "Lost" to their final resting place.  My job as host has been to knock out as much material as possible while waiting for the sun to set.  I've stated before that a well lit audience feels self conscious and therefore doesn't laugh as much.  I try to get the audience warmed up as well as I can before bringing on the first act.  My set list this night was:

 

1st Bracket

 

Hen’s Night

Biker Corporate Gig

“I Don’t Give A Hoot!”

Hushed Angry Conversations

 

2nd Bracket

 

Tram Story

 

I'm enjoying bringing back some older routines and finding new gags in them.  When you're hosting a run of shows you have to dip into your bag of tricks and so far it has been fun to find older stories that haven't seen the light of day for a while.  I'd forgotten how much I enjoy performing the Tram Story and it was nice to bring it back for the gig.

I had a week of working from home after the Sunday night gig and it wasn't until the next Friday that I was back onstage.  I returned to Ballaratcat Comedy for the first time in about 15 months.  It is a gig that I enjoy immensely and I wanted to have a play with some of my new material.  I joined a fun group of comedians (Bart Freebairn, Geraldine Hickey and Greg Larsen) to head to Ballarat and this was my set list:

 

Kid at Cap

Nerds

Before the Internet

Fix Your Flaws

“I Don’t Give A Hoot!”

Hushed Angry Conversation

Annoying Woman

Biker Corporate Gig

Can’t Drink Anymore

 

A full house except for two tables...right in front.  Ugh!

 

This is a great gig but I thought my new material was a little off the mark. Not completely but some of the ideas didn't translate quite as well as it has in the past. My new material is at that gawky teenage stage where it has bad skin, funny teeth and poor dress sense but you can tell if you stick with the jokes it will grow into a fine looking man.  At this point the material sings if the audience is completely au fait with what I do but if I'm not they're a little lost.  You have to go through this stage though and it is better to go through it now than in February.  I did my job on the night but the new still needs some time to settle on a rock solid shape.

Finally on the 9th of November I was back at Crown.  It was a chaotic situation behind the scenes with one of my acts having an allergic reaction to something and having to pull out about 45 minutes before the show began.  That meant in the time I should be preparing I was looking to lock in a new act and also shuffle the line up around.  As I've stated above the room is tricky to host and with our biggest crown yet (Frank Woodley as headliner will do that for your room) I had valuable preparation time eaten away.  The set list was:

 

1st Bracket

 

Kid at Cap

Before the Internet

Turning 40

Invite To Parties

Hairy Baby

Little Boy Joke

 

2nd Bracket

 

Glitter In Invitations

People Wearing Your Glasses

Spooning

 

You know you've done a good job as a host by the way your material goes down at the beginning of the second half.  By that stage the audience is comfortable with the night, relaxed enough to laugh without hesitation and if you've done your job they're happy to see you return.  My second half was full of laughs and applause so that was a nice exclamation mark on the show.

I'm about to embark on six shows in six nights before flying interstate as support for Wil Anderson in Darwin, Perth and Kalgoorlie.  In the mean time I'll try and sneak in a few more sessions of "Interstellar" before I head out of town.  When I love a movie I like to see it as often as I can on the big screen and I plan on seeing "Interstellar" stacks of heaps of times and possibly a little more than that.

 

Justin Hamilton

11th of November, 2014

Fitzroy North