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.
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
Milne and His Fine
Manson Getting Married
Abbott Shot In The Face
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!
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
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
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.
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!
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.
28th of November, 2014
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.
The final show for The Shelf Season 9 took an hour longer than expected and that seemed just about right on the night.
A quiet night doesn't mean a bad show but I tried some tricks in the performance to keep my head in the game.
Did you miss The Shelf last night? If so you missed this line up:
Lessons With Luis
Fan Fiction Comedy featuring Joseph Moore
With this show I hit the half way point of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. My first show was on the 24th of March when we held a special preview of "Johnny Loves Mary Forever 1994" for all of our season ticket holders. Since then it has been work every day and gigs every night without a break. The Shelf is the hardest night of the week because so much goes into every show including the wrangling of comics and the energy it requires on the night. As I stated last week I haven't had time to write some new material so I went way back into the vaults for a story I haven't told in years. The set list for my opening was:
Fire Trap Gives Me The Barry
Journalists Ask About Terrible Gigs
"I Heard Gravity"
Biker Corporate Gig
We had a packed out audience and I riffed off the top about how if there was a fire I would not only survive but it would inspire me to write a show that would win me The Barry for best show at next year's M.I.C.F. It is a dark way to begin a gig but our audience is so fantastic they not only went with it but understood it was more a take down of the semi serious comedy shows you might see at the festival. Yes, I was having a crack at me and the type of show I'm performing just in case you weren't certain that I had missed the irony.
Journalists are mad for asking us about terrible gigs and that gave me a jumping off point to get into some old material. I'm not certain whether I have performed the "I Heard Gravity" story onstage before. I think I have but I don't have the time to go through all my previous entries to find out if I did. Anyway it popped into my head and I figured I'd throw it out there and it fitted in nicely with the theme.
I also ad libbed a comment that I had made on Wil Anderson's podcast "FOFOP" about never having a bad gig and was surprised at the genuine and spontaneous applause of acknowledgement from the audience. I thought it might be a nice throw away but the response was one of recognition and it took my completely by surprise. I wasn't certain if I was going to mention it or nor in this blog but I had my suspicions confirmed by Shelf super fan Ethan Lesh on Facebook who wrote to me about that exact moment. I'm glad I wasn't lost up my own arse with that moment and a bit thanks to Ethan for confirming it for me.
The story about performing a corporate gig for bikers with fellow comedian Mickey D occurred somewhere around the turn of the century and is a story that I haven't performed for a long time. Between last week's "What's a bit of wrinkle..." routine and last night's story I had forgotten how much I enjoyed them in their day. I don't know if I could find the same energy performing them on a regular basis now but they might be good to keep in my back pocket for gigs further down the track.
I was rapt not only with the audience last night but also the acts. I had a bunch of comedians who hadn't performed at The Shelf before (Wizard Sandwiches, Corey White, Tracey Cosgrove and UK comedian James Acaster) who fitted in like they've always been a part of the line up. Getting the balance correct between new and established comedians is part of the joy of putting the show together. Introducing new acts to our audience is incredibly exciting not only for the crowd but also the comedian. We have such a loyal and smart following that a lot of these acts can be assured to score some ticket sales out of their appearance.
The highlight of the night for me was sown at the end of the first bracket. Somehow for the first time ever The Shelf was running to time. I made the mistake of mentioning this onstage and out bounded co-host Adam Richard and floating Wil. We proceeded to ad lib enough that the show was now 20 minutes behind schedule. As the night continued we became more and more behind time and ended up finishing an hour after what I had planned for. Brilliantly the majority of the audience (and when I say majority I mean 90% of the audience) stayed around for the end. Only one person I knew had to leave and that was one of the main instigators of getting the show behind time: Wil. He was out of there with about two acts to go. Hilarious. As we have pointed out before The Shelf isn't about a tidy night out. Every show aims for the fence and I feel if it wasn't bloated, unwieldy and full of moments where we say things we sort of wish we hadn't then it actually wouldn't be the show we love to be a part of.
Next week's show is the final show for The Shelf for the next six months. I'm guessing at this point the earliest it will return will be mid November so if you're keen to check it out you should head here to book your tickets. This is well on the way to selling out and I'm guessing will be a cracking way to finish the season.
8th of April, 2014
A humid night, Adam Richard's "Gaypocalypse" and putting into action some suggestions from my peers made the Tuesday night show a fun challenge.
The first night of The Shelf for the 2014 Melbourne International Comedy Festival was a corker, possibly one of the best!
Two shows to perform in, one show to see and a coffee that turned out to be a mistake make for a fun and interesting Sunday night.
The final Shelf for 2013 ends up being one of the all time best.
I can be hard work sometimes behind the scenes but I like shows and comedians to reach for perfection especially when it is time for The Shelf
Cupcakes! Superheroes! Stolen phones! Things we can't talk about! Just another night at The Shelf really.
The final night of season 7 of The Shelf clocks in at 4 hours! Yikes!
Another great night at The Shelf with season 7 looking like our best yet.
I spent the afternoon performing in a work shop for a potential new game show.
The opening night of Season 7 of The Shelf was a success and inspires me for the next two shows.
Season seven of The Shelf is kicking off with an announcement of new regulars at your favourite comedy show.
The finale of The Shelf had a fake Justin, video footage, a teddy bear microphone, legends of comedy and an Oscar speech. Just a typical show really...
We nailed our third show in season six of The Shelf last night with Tom Gleeson's cameo possibly being the funniest thing I never got to see.
Another really fun night at The Shelf which included American comedians, sketches and giant men carrying me yet again to the stage.