In the immortal words of the Joker: "And here...we...go." I took a good break from the world of comedy half way through December. I have suspected for a long time that my world is too much work and not enough down time. Knowing that the beginning of the year was going to be hectic with three festivals and the development of a new show I believed it was paramount to get away from the scene. I returned to Adelaide and bypassed my comedy based pals and instead caught up with the friends that had nothing to do with the scene. It was a great time to be in Adelaide with all the cool pop up bars hiding in plain sight open and ready to serve.
From Adelaide I flew to Bali for Lehmo's wedding and thoroughly enjoyed being surrounded by a lot of friends who are comedians but had no interest in talking about comedy. I can't remember the last time I spent time with comedians and didn't talk about jokes, routines, who's an arsehole and "can you believe they made that much?" types of conversations. It was a thoroughly relaxed time and by the time I returned to Melbourne I was slowly beginning to look forward to returning to the stage.
My first show for the year was in Adelaide for 14-17 year old scouts. Australia Venture had contacted my management the previous year and asked if I would be interested in flying over for the gig. Once I made certain they were talking about me and more importantly, knew the type of material I performed I had a good think about whether I would be appropriate. I liked the challenge of performing for kids but knew I had to be careful about which routines I used. For example I have new material about what life was like before the Internet. There isn't anything that is really rude in it and definitely nothing offensive. Yet there is a section that talks about how difficult it was to find porn back in the day compared to now. Bam! I couldn't perform that routine because it would be inappropriate for me to even mention that in to teenagers. Also young people don't need to think about old people in relationship to sex. It makes them sick and rightly so.
In the lead up to the gig I spent a fair amount of time going over all my routines and checking each line to make certain what I had in mind was appropriate. After a couple of days I settled on a set list. The audience that night consisted of 350 kids and they were awesome. They were up for banter and enjoyed the ad libs. At the end of each routine they applauded and when I finally said I had to go there was a gratifying, "Awwwwww" sound which of course inspired me to perform a little longer than I had planned. After the gig I talked to some of the kids who marvelled not only over my age but also that my career was older than all of them. When a bunch of 16 year old boys asked me how old I was they turned to each other and then one said, "Wow. You're in good shape man." If you'd told me that I would start the year surrounded by 16 year old boys who would make me feel good about my body image I would have replied, "Oh my God, I'm going to gaol." Turns out it there was nothing to worry about officer. Here's the set list.
10th of January
Australian Venture 2015
Kid at Captain America
Tripping and Farting
Kid at Party
Breaking Up Through History
“I Don’t Give A Hoot!”
Hushed Angry Conversations
Fix Your Flaws
People Wearing Your Glasses
For those keeping score I dropped three "f" bombs throughout my gig. I was asked to not swear excessively but I also know that comedy works best when it feels like it bucking the rules. The first one I dropped was about at the ten minute mark and I acted as if I shouldn't have done that. It received a massive cheer. The second one I dropped was right in the middle around the 20-25 minute mark. That also received a big cheer. The third one was right at the end and when that too received a cheer I "admonished" the audience by saying they weren't to encourage me or I'd get the oldies upset. Forget the fact that I was possibly older than most of the people working there but it helped set up a nice "us against them" scenario which I used for comedic purposes.
I returned to Melbourne the next day and decided that the next four gigs I would work on one of the new routines from my latest show "Snacks!" I had been happy with the "Can't Drink Anymore" routine but it seemed to be lacking something at the end. It has been the type of routine that feels like it has a lot going for it but the end was a little hit and miss. In longer sets I knew the ending was working to a certain extent because if I referenced it in a call back it always received a big laugh but I still wasn't happy with it. I had a couple of comedians tell me that they thought the ending was fine but fine can be good and good can be excellent and excellent can be great and therefore it was a long way off great. So for the next few gigs that was my main focus. The set lists were:
12th of January: Spleen Bar
Can’t Drink Anymore
I closed the first half and thought it was a pretty good gig. I find Spleen to be a tougher room in summer for a number of reasons. First of all it is really hot in there. A hot room means a hot audience and a hot audience is usually not paying as close attention as they would normally do. There is a reason David Letterman keeps it freezing in his studio. It helps keep the audience on their toes. Also Spleen is so super successful that people arrive about an hour before the show begins to make certain they can sit up front and score a seat. By the time I hit the stage most of the people had been sitting there for nearly two hours. In fact I'd give them more credit for being as good as they were all things considered. Still I found the gig to be a good one and it allowed me a comfortable place to find my timing with my routine.
13th of January: Imperial Hotel
Kid at Captain America
Nerd Culture Wins
The “N” Word
Escape From Reality
Can’t Drink Anymore
Before the Internet
This was an ideal gig to get back into performing a lot of the material that will be in the new show. It is amazing how you can know your new routines but until you give them a trundle on the stage you can forget the little jokes that help your material to really roll. It was another humid night in Melbourne and I had one goal major goal for this gig. I wanted to give the ending to my show "Snacks!" another go but to do so I had to do enough material in the middle before seeing how the closer would work. Alas it was so humid up there I finished my set one routine early because to keep the audience there any longer would have been detrimental to the night. Even though I love performing at the Imperial Hotel I was exhausted by the end of the night and I was home asleep before my clothes had time to dry.
14th of January: Death Star Canteen
Can’t Drink Any More
Another excellent gig at Death Star Canteen. I've performed there a couple of times in the past seven weeks and both gigs were really buzzing. Once again I was working on the one routine but I can honestly say that I was gaining any new ground on the closing joke. The rest of the routine was growing stronger with each performance but this closer still wasn't where I wanted it to be. I had one more gig the following night to make it work.
15th of January: Portland Hotel
I Can’t Drink Anymore
“I Don’t Give a Hoot!”
Hushed Angry Conversations
Fix Your Flaws
The Portland Hotel is the new Karl Chandler room and after hosting this show it might be his best. With a line up that included Celia Pacquola, Ronny Chieng, Nick Cody, Joel Creasy and Demi Lardner, it was a corker of a show and was even more impressive when you consider that everyone was using new or newer material. It was a sold out event and as the host I had a great time. Yet at the end I still wasn't quite happy with the closing joke on that one routine. I couldn't work out what was not quite working for me. It wouldn't be until the following week that I could talk about it with someone. I won't tell you about that just yet as I need to do a gig and put it into practice but we'll discuss that in the next blog.
All up a good solid start to the year. The Melbourne scene is buzzing. The rooms are packed. The weather is good...ish. Come on, it is Melbourne. That is the best we can hope for. I guess the main thing to leave you with is this: it is good to be back.
21st of January, 2015