2015 BLOG FIVE: GIG 23 “THE COMIC’S LOUNGE”

This was a slightly different gig to the usual night at The Comic’s Lounge.

Over the past couple of months they’ve been hosting a night where established comedians worked on new material and new comedians worked on establishing themselves.  Not only that but the host of these nights would come in earlier and work with the new acts on everything from writing, technique and approach to their careers.

My intention in the workshop was to show the new comedians how they can expand their material.  A lot of the time what separates the open mic comedian from the headliner is that both acts will look at a situation and come up with the same first joke. The difference with the headliner is that he or she will then expand on the first joke and turn it into a longer routine.  When we all start out we’re fine at finding the first joke but the next two, three, four jokes are where we struggle.

I enjoy these workshops because it is not only fun to pass on whatever knowledge you have but it is also a good way to remember and refine the skills you have.  For the first half an hour I showed the acts how they can expand their material.  I talked about what it is like to run rooms.  I explained the best way to find more opportunities and how to approach the different rooms around town.  It was a fun workshop and after just under two hours I felt like I’d only managed to get through half of what I was keen to talk about.  If they continue to run any extra workshops later in the year I’ll have to see if I can get another opportunity to work with the new comics.

After the workshop I had about a half hour to get myself into show mode.  After you’ve pontificated for nearly two hours on how to approach stand up you really need to then nail the gig.  Everybody has a bad day at work but I really couldn’t afford for this to be the day or it would have unravelled all the work I’d just done!  Luckily for me there were a couple of hundred people at the gig and it was a really strong night.

17th of February – The Comic’s Lounge

1st Half:

-Getting older is bullshit

-20s, 30s, 40s

-NYE 2015

-Snacks Song

-If I wanted to be rude

-Entitled To My Opinion

-Speaks Islamic

-Opinions are like arseholes

-Bjork Album

-Scouts

2nd Half

-Can’t Drink Anymore

-Before the Internet

All the acts did a great job and I used this as an opportunity to hone my material before heading to the Perth Fringe.  I enjoyed this night a lot and hope the Loungecontinues to work their Tuesday nights in a similar fashion.  It might be more difficult after the Festivals since not as many established comedians will be working on new material but hopefully it will be a night the returns sooner rather than later.  If you’re in the North Melbourne area I think there will be shows like this until mid March so if you’re a fan of comedy and the process then this is a great night to go down.  You not only get to see new comics learning the ropes but headliners working on their new material.  A fun night.

Justin Hamilton

24th of February, 2015

Fitzroy North

BLOG FOUR: GIGS 14 -22 SYDNEY EDITION

I’ve just completed a cracking run up in Sydney at the Comedy Store.  Every gig was a sold out extravaganza and it was not only great to perform in the venue but I also had the opportunity to spend time with some comedians I don’t get to see too often.  I had initially baulked at the idea of shows where the headliner only has the opportunity to knock off a 15 minute set at the end of the night but having been a part of these line up shows a few times now I have to say I’m sold.  I think it is even better than it used to be because now you not get the opportunity to see more acts but I also got to meet a lot of the younger comedians coming up through the ranks.

Since it was only 15 minutes a night I made a deal with myself that I would change up the material as often as possible.  This was for a couple of reasons.  First up I have a new show that is about to begin in Perth this weekend (you can find tickets for the extra show here) so I wanted to make certain as much of the material was getting a run as possible.  I also like to keep the techie (Joshie!) and the rest of the staff (Jack and the waiters) as engaged as possible so if I changed up the material enough it would save them from feeling like they were trapped in a time loop while dealing with the punters.  Finally it would stop me from entering each gig on auto pilot so by changing the material for each gig I would have to be in the moment.

The first three gigs had the following set lists:

5th of February – The Comedy Store

-Little Boy at Cap

-Getting older is bullshit

-20s, 30s, 40s

-Before The Internet

-“I Don’t Give a Hoot!”

-Hushed Angry Conversation

6th of February – The Comedy Store

-Getting older is bullshit

-20s, 30s, 40s

-Can’t Drink Anymore

-Fix Your Flaws

7th of February – The Comedy Store

 -Getting older is bullshit

-20s, 30s, 40s

-NYE 2015

-Snacks Song

-If I wanted to be rude

-Entitled To My Opinion

-Speaks Islamic

-Opinions are like arseholes

-Bjork Album

-Hushed Angry Conversations

-Scouts

My basic aim was to keep a similar opening that would get me into my sets as quickly as possible and then take it from there.  The first gig I kept to a similar set list that I used for support for Wil Anderson at the Opera House.  I wanted to remind myself what 15 minutes felt like so I wouldn’t over plan for the following gigs.  The second I wanted to run in a longer set and the third gig was an opportunity to work on the latest new material. I’ve also re-worked a couple of older routines (or jokes really as they’re possibly a bit small to be declared a routine) that haven’t appeared in a show in Australia before.  Sometimes club material stays in the clubs but I’ve enjoyed reworking these pieces for the new show.

The line up that week included RayRhys NicholsonJames SmithGen FrickerSam CampbellDan Rath and Gearard McGowen.  It was an excellent show and I really enjoyed the breadth of acts the Store had booked.

I had the Sunday off before two gigs on the Monday.  The first one was a trial show for “Snacks!” which gave me an opportunity to see how all the material felt in a one hour show. After the heavy narrative of “Johnny Loves Mary Forever 1994” I wanted this show to be thematically linked but at the same time not be tied to an over arching story. That way I can chop and change each night if I feel like doing so.  If anything this feels like it will be more in the spirit of “Idiot Man Child” from 2010.

After my trial show I headed to my friend Nick Skeer’s new comedy night “Comedy@616“. Nick is a friend of mine from Adelaide who lives in Sydney now and has opened this show that combines comedy and jazz.  I’ve seen this attempted in the past with varying results but for the opening night I thought Nick did a great job. The mix was solid, the acts were excellent and the audience was up for it.  Here’s hoping that it sticks around and continues to build on what was already an excellent opening night.

Here are the set lists for the night:

9th of February – Trial Show

Snacks!

Comedy@616

 -Little Boy at Cap

-Getting older is bullshit

-20s, 30s, 40s

-NYE 2015

-Snacks Song

-If I wanted to be rude

-Entitled To My Opinion

-Speaks Islamic

-Bjork Album

-Fix Your Flaws

-Scouts

I had the Tuesday off and took that opportunity to record a new podcast with one of my favourite comedians and friends Ben Ellwood for “Can You Take This Photo Please?”  That will be released in a few weeks.  I managed while I was in town to score some people who haven’t been on the show before including Cam KnightGen Fricker and Becky Lucas with a cameo from Susie Youssef.

From Wednesday to Saturday it was back to the Comedy Store and a variation on the previous week.  With a new line up that included Rhys hosting, SusieJamesDanPaige HallyBev KillickCameron DugganNikki Britton and Marty Bright it was another week of great shows. I hadn’t seen some of the younger comics from this week and it was great to see them four nights in a row.

The set lists were:

11th of February – The Comedy Store

 -Little Boy at Cap

-Getting older is bullshit

-20s, 30s, 40s

-Before The Internet

-“I Don’t Give a Hoot!”

-Hushed Angry Conversation

12th of February – The Comedy Store

-Getting older is bullshit

-20s, 30s, 40s

-NYE 2015

-Snacks Song

-If I wanted to be rude

-Entitled To My Opinion

-Speaks Islamic

-Bjork Album

-Hushed Angry Conversations

-Fix Your Flaws

-Scouts

 13th of February – The Comedy Store

-Getting older is bullshit

-20s, 30s, 40s

-Can’t Drink Anymore (Truncated)

-Before The Internet

-Hushed Angry Conversation

14th of February – The Comedy Store

-Getting older is bullshit

-20s, 30s, 40s

-NYE 2015

-Snacks Song

-If I wanted to be rude

-Entitled To My Opinion

-Speaks Islamic

-Opinions are like arseholes

-Bjork Album

-“I Don’t Give a Hoot!”

-Hushed Angry Conversations

-Scouts

A few variations there but as you can see a similar working of the set lists to the previous week.  It was a stack of excellent shows that made me feel like I was in a good place leading into the festival season.  A big thanks to everyone at the Comedy Store for looking after me and placing me in the context of a great gig.  

Justin Hamilton

16th of February, 2015

Fitzroy North

2015 Blog Two: Gigs 6 - 11

From Launceston to the Opera House I had a run of great gigs with the exception of one routine that I just could not quite stick the landing on. Yes, it was frustrating!

2015 Blog One: Gigs 1 - 5

We have five gigs to talk about that start with the Scouts in Adelaide and then back to Melbourne for Spleen Comedy, The Imperial Hotel, Death Star Canteen and the brand spanking new Portland Hotel.

2014 December Gigs 185 - 188: The Shelf and the Hotel Barkly

The final four shows of the year cover all of season 10 of The Shelf, a one off gig at the Hotel Barkly and a few of the potential pitfalls of performing when you are receiving terrible news.

2014 November Gigs 179 - 184: Death Star Canteen to The Comic's Lounge

I finally get around to writing about a run of gigs that might have been the best run of the year: from Death Star Canteen to The Comic's Lounge to a little show at 1000 Pound Bend.

2014 November Gigs 172 - 178: Imperial Hotel to Wil Anderson Support

November is turning out to be a busy time of the year.  I'm always quite surprised at how my self esteem improves with the amount of gigs that I'm performing.  Even when I'm taking a break that I know is necessary there is a mild funk when I'm away from the stage. I don't believe it has that much to do with a desire to perform but more a sense that you're working and therefore earning a living.  It always makes me laugh when people tell me that I work too hard and should just take a month off.  I will gladly do this when someone offers to pay me holiday pay.  Heck, I've been doing this for twenty years, I'm owed two loads of long service leave, right? My first gig for the week was helping to fill in a gap at Imperial Comedy.  I've been performing there quite a bit lately and it is beginning to feel like a second home. With a rock solid audience who are locked into every show it has provided me with an opportunity to really play around with my material.  By changing the sequence in some of the routines I've been able to reveal more jokes and interesting asides that have helped flesh out the new material.  Here's the set list for the gig:

 

18th of November:  Imperial Hotel

 

Biker Gig

Milne and His Fine

Manson Getting Married

Abbott Shot In The Face

Liberal Government

Legal Pot

 

For those of you who haven't seen the material just enjoy the heading of "Abbott Shot In The Face" and extrapolate from there where that material might go.  It was another fun night at the Imperial Hotel but I had to leave early as the next day I had a flight to Darwin to support Wil Anderson on his tour.

My tour manager Claire and I managed to upgrade to business class for our flight and I'll be honest, it is brutal when you have to return to economy.  Big seats, real cutlery and staff that just want to keep serving you booze are just some of the joys of sitting up the front of the plane.  I love drinking on flights as I find the air pressure in the cabin combined with the booze ends up making me a little teary.  I'm made for a weepy flight moment and anything can set me off.  As an example I watched the trailer for "True Detective" (a series I have watched stacks of heaps of times already) and found myself getting a bit weepy watching that.  Hang in there Rust, everything is going to be ok!

 

Between shows hoping I don't have a bald patch showing up in any mirrors.

 

Our first show as part of this tour was at the Darwin Entertainment Centre where a thousand Ando fans came along to see the big man in action.  As a support act I feel you have to go out, warm up the audience, get them in the mood and don't outstay your welcome.  They're not there to see you, at best you're a bonus.  Do you job and hit it hard. This was the set list:

 

19th of November:  Darwin support for Wil

 

Kid At Cap

Turning 40

Before The Internet

Fix Your Flaws

“I Don’t Give A Hoot!”

Hushed Angry Conversation

 

This was a great start to the tour except we had some major sound issues.  With a cordless mic that was feeding back throughout the first five minutes it made it difficult to land punchlines.  Also for some reason the smoke machine had a mind of its own and was spewing out the type of smoke that even the makers of "I Dream Of Jeannie" would find excessive.  At one point with me dressed all in black surrounded by smoke and a mic that was making lightsaber noises I must have looked like a "Be Kind Rewind" version of Darth Vader.

Funnily enough I was so relaxed with this happening about me that I was actually finding it quite funny.  When I was younger I think I would have had a mild nervous breakdown but knowing there was nothing I could do until the techie fixed the problem was in a way quite liberating.  Also I feel as the support act this is the type of thing I'm there to help solve.  It is better for the sound to be a mess while I'm onstage so when Wil comes out for his show everything is sorted.  In a weird way this is part of my job. Still the audience was great and the gig was a fun one despite the tech problems.

The next day we flew to Perth (back in economy...no upgrade for Claire and I this time...booooo!) and had a day off before getting back into the swing of things.  Over the next four shows (including our show in Kalgoorlie) my set list remained the same. When you know it is not only working but coming in on time you don't want to mess around too much in case you throw everything out of order.  So the set list was:

 

21st – 23rd of November:  Perth and Kalgoorlie support for Wil

 

Kid At Cap

Turning 40

Before The Internet

Fix Your Flaws

What A Woman Likes About Me Now

“I Don’t Give A Hoot!”

Hushed Angry Conversation

 

In fact I tell a mild lie.  I dropped the "What A Woman Likes About Me Now" after the opening show in Perth.  I just thought it messed with the flow of the set ever so slightly. Not that anyone would have noticed but I wasn't 100% happy with it.  The audiences were incredible and very giving.  Considering I was the support act I felt very much like they were rapt to have me there.  This is also helped by the generous introductions that Wil gives at the start of the show that lets them know in no uncertain terms that I'm there because of him.  I thoroughly enjoyed these gigs and it is a massive buzz to perform to roughly 6,000 people over such a small amount of time.  If you'd told me when I first started out that one day I would have that opportunity I would have been rapt as I am now.

 

Wil in action in Kalgoorlie.

 

There was one other gig tucked in amongst these shows.  On the Saturday night Wil had two shows at the Perth Exhibition Centre and after the first gig I was booked for a corporate gig that was in the same venue at exactly the perfect time.  What are the odds? I can't remember having that type of luck before and have been very thankful that it turned out the way that it did.  It was for a company of three hundred and I was booked to knock out 20 minutes at their end of year Christmas party.  I didn't perform any material at this gig but instead did audience work instead.  It was that type of gig where they enjoyed seeing someone from their company feel awkward more than they wanted jokes and I was happy to provide!

 

Adam Richard and I turned up to see Rove's secret gig at the Imperial Hotel.

 

Monday it was time to fly from Kalgoorlie to Perth to Melbourne.  What a great way to wipe out a day but after a fun run of gigs and a fair amount of travel it was nice to not think for a while.  I'm relatively happy with the new material as it is getting to that comfortable stage where it feels like the material I've been performing all along, a natural part of my regular set lists.  That is a good sign heading into some down time before the new year begins.

The following day Rove was headlining the Imperial Hotel and I went down with Adam Richard to just watch the show.  It is important to go to gigs and just sit back and enjoy the night.  It was a perfect way to relax before the next run of gigs here in Melbourne.

 

Justin Hamilton

28th of November, 2014

Fitzroy North

2014 November Gigs: 166 - 171 From The Imperial To The Final Comedy At Crown

A great week of gigs with the highlight being a moment where I found a way to improve a new routine.

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

From back pain to Interstellar, it was an interesting week for my new routines as they entered their awkward teenage years.

2014 October Gigs: 154 - 157 From the Imperial Hotel to the Opera House

Four gigs covered in the latest blog that begins in Melbourne at the Imperial Hotel and finishes with a gig at the Sydney Opera House.

2014 October Gigs: Adelaide 150 - 153

In September I had no idea what my new show would be about. After four nights in Adelaide I not only know but I have the show ready to go. Hammo digs "snacks"!

2014 September Gigs: 144 - 149

A new format for the blog covering my gigs at Five Boroughs, Spleen, The Imperial Hotel, The Public Bar, The Local and the debate for the Essendon Football Club.

2014 Gig One Hundred and Thirty Five: Best of the Fest. Gig One Hundred and Thirty Six: Prompter. Gig One Hundred and Thirty Seven: Edinburgh

With three shows in one day I finally work out what the main challenge will be for the rest of the Edinburgh Fringe.