Well if you've been living in Melbourne during July you know for a fact that the weather has been bullshit. I don't mind the cold normally but this weather has had me thinking ridiculous thoughts like, "Maybe living in Port Hedland is actually a good idea?"
With that in mind I made two decisions to ride out this time of year. I would scale back the gigs just to recharge the batteries and whatever gigs I did say yes to I would do as much new material as possible. It is easy to let the head slide into hibernation especially coming off the back of the festival season so I figured if I worked on new ideas that would keep my brain ticking over. I also made the deal with myself that any ideas I came up with might be good enough to be placed in a new show but if they weren't then that was fine too. It is seven months away before I'd have to unveil a new show so if a routine was good as a once off then that was good enough. There is no pressure to bring out a brand new hour.
I offered my services to the Imperial Hotel for the month of July and so had a fun time having a residency in the one venue. Apart from a side step to the Local for one show these were my only stand up gigs for the month. It allowed me to have a week to think of new ideas and let them sit in the back of the head so when it came time to do the shows I could play around with them onstage and see if we had anything.
Here's the set list for the first gig:
7th of July: The Imperial Hotel
Dawn Fraser Racism
Past Australian Sporting Legends
Kyrigos and Black Face
Ernie Dingo at Marios
Aboriginal Hipster Mistake
Biker Corporate Gig
I thought I was pretty clunky this night. I hadn't worked on a big new routine in a few months and the lesson I learned from this is to keep the ideas simple. I had a bit too much going on in the opening bracket and while it was fine I could have simplified the whole set and really gotten to the jokes and the point with less baggage. The good result from this was by chance four nights later I was on "Dirty Laundry Live" and a lot of the stuff I talked about came up in the opening chat. I felt like I was much better on TV with these topics.
In the second bracket I pulled out a routine that up until last year I had totally dropped from my repertoire. Since I felt clunky in the first bracket I decided to pull this routine out of the back pocket and do an extended version of the story. That helped me get my head around how a routine should be a lot easier to digest and focused me for the next few weeks at the Imperial.
The next gig was at the Local in East St Kilda and the set list was:
13th of July: The Local
Fury at Winter
Kenya West and Adam Goodes
New Years Resolution to Scouts Gig
Hushed Angry Conversation
This was one of my least favourite gigs of the year. I've always loved performing at the Local but on this night it was cold, the audience was apathetic and there were three drunk middle aged women in the first bracket who derailed the show to such an extent that producer Janet McLeod had to have them removed. I also felt like there was a lack of camaraderie with the comics on the bill which was disappointing. Without spending too much time on this one I am willing to admit that maybe I came out with too much energy up front. It could possibly have been too much to digest. Unfortunately I think the three drunk women who didn't realise they'd been dealt with by every comedian in the first half just threw the show for such a loop that there was a weird vibe right until the end. I kept the start of the second half to a minimum and was glad when it was over. A disappointing result for a night that I usually enjoy.
Luckily I was back at the Imperial the following night and this was the set list:
14th of July: The Imperial Hotel
When I’m Alone
Vegan Soup Mishap
Mum and Atheism
Mum and Pot
Mum and Porn
This felt like the new ideas and routines were moving in the right direction. I brought out an idea that I had played with briefly before (Smashing Things) and placed it amongst some new ideas. I didn't feel it was quite on the money but the lesson from the previous week had been learned and it was definitely an improvement. In the second bracket I pulled out some material from 2006-7 that had been a part of the Three Colours Hammo shows. I had played with these during the 2015 comedy festival season and had forgotten how strong the stories are. This got me to thinking about some old stories which lead to the following week:
21st of July: The Imperial Hotel
Stoner Busted at Security
Ex-Girlfriend Unfriended Me As A Friend
Fanning Punching A Shark
Gay Banana Splits
Birds and Bees Don’t Fuck
High School Reunion
Kid In Rehab
Can’t Drink Anymore
For those who might be reading this blog for the first time the reason some of the material is in bold is because it points out which routines are being performed for the first time. Some of the ideas may have been touched on before but in this format it is brand new. So my opening was a combination of brand new routines and an old story from 2004. This was the first week that I really felt back in the swing of things with the new material and I was gladdened for the obvious step forward in quality.
I had been watching a lot of the new comics talking about subjects I had touched on over ten years ago and was reminded that this is a whole new era of comedy fans. Going back and finding old stories and revamping them saved them from the comedy limbo that is my hard drive. Also the perspective on these routines has changed over time and they had new beats, new ideas and new takes. In many ways they felt like brand new routines. I am also very happy to find a new way into telling the story of the time I made David Bowie laugh so there is that too.
The final show for the Imperial had the following set list:
21st of July: The Imperial Hotel
Hollywood Is Mental
Australian Movie Universe
Eddie Vedder and Lost Time
George Clooney and Gravity
Lehmo and the Giant Twistie
If you look closely you can see that there was more and more new ideas flowing as the weeks progressed. In fact there are a bunch of ideas that I never got a chance to follow up as the comedy side of the brain really got into the flow. I've recorded all four weeks and while I might release them on my podcast "Can You Take This Photo Please?" I'll just sit on it for a while to see if any of these new routines might have a life for next year's festival. Now it is just a waiting game so I guess we'll see where I'm at later in the year.
Now I'm off to Sydney for two weeks of gigs. Check out the gig guide for more details. I had a great time at the Imperial for all of July and think that not only were the audiences great but it was some of the best work I'd seen from some of the local acts as well. If you head over to the Imperial Comedy Facebook page (right here) you can check out who was on and I can guarantee that everyone came prepared and really knocked it out of the park. I was really impressed at the acts coming through the scene that are beginning to make their mark. We're in for a good couple of years with the emerging talent in this country.
29th of July, 2015