Gig 146: The Shelf

Another big show at The Shelf.  Check out the line up:  

Tony Martin

Sam Simmons

Justin Hamilton

Adam Richard

Cal Wilson

Claire Hooper

Harley Breen

Asher Treleaven

Tegan Higginbotham

Celia Pacquola

Tommy Little

Luke McGregor

Kate McLennan

Wes Snelling

Demi Lardner


For this show we had a special offer for all of our season ticket holders and special guests where Sam Simmons performed a special 40 minute set before the show began properly. We've always wanted The Shelf to be the type of show that not only rewards the continuing fans but also keeps everybody off balance.  There are some aspects of the show that continue like clockwork such as starting bang on 7.30pm every week.  A couple of seasons ago we had a reading of a pilot for a TV show with Kate McLennan and Kate McCartney before The Shelf began.  This time it was Sam's pre-show show.

I enjoy throwing these different looks out there although it can be mildly stressful.  In the lead up to the show I had to co-ordinate our techie Jason along with my management so Sam's stuff was ready to go.  I sent the guest lists, the running order and the list of acts that were appearing that night to The Toff In Town around 11am.  I arrived at the venue at 2.30pm to set up the room and then travelled to Austereo to record my reviews for Perth radio at 4pm.  I was back at The Toff by 5pm and helped co-ordinate the preparation for the show while working on my opening set.  At one point I helped work the door and behind the counter before introducing Sam onstage.  While Sam was performing I continued to work on my opening set.  Sam finished at 6.50pm and we moved everybody out of the venue and we cleared glasses from the tables, re-set the room and then let everybody back in for the show.  I changed clothes, dealt with a couple of mini-crisis (my phone is constantly ringing before the show begins with comedians running late or people not being on the door list etc) and then opened the show.


This is the opening set:


Thinking About Kids

"I Don't Give A Hoot!"

Hushed Angry Conversation

Hurting For No Reason

New Grey Hair

Maybe I Want A Child

I'll Neck Myself

Imagine I Might Be A Bad Dad

Destroying Right On Guy

Paul and Basic Instinct



My favourite time of the night, just before the doors open.


My second favourite part of the night, when the audience fills the silence.


I admit that I can be a little tetchy before the show begins with some nights being better than others.  I was pretty tetchy before this one.  There was so much co-ordinating required and I had a lot of important people in the audience so I also wanted my opening to be as strong as possible.  I am certain that I rub people up the wrong way, even the closest of friends but I also back myself to make everything happen.  Often people suggest that I should delegate but I've never been in a situation over the last twenty years where delegation hasn't lead to extra work.  I'm a perfectionist and I want every experience to have the possibility of being the best night ever.  I know when I'm not happy with a gig it is usually down to my lack of preparation.  The Shelf only produces 10 shows this year so therefore I want them all to be events.  I hold everyone, including myself, to a high standard and I feel frustrated if people aren't aiming for the same high bar.  Is that unfair?  Maybe but I won't feel bad for believing that everyone I work with has the capability of knocking it out of the park.

Considering the amount of work that went into the show before it even began I was pretty happy with my opening.  While you might recognise some of the material as new routines I have just started working on, there appeared to be a step up with some of the stories as I found new ways into them on the night.  After the show I also discovered that the final piece might have some new life if I perform it in a different way.  I have a trial show and a hosting job in Fitzroy tomorrow night so I am keen to try this routine out at both gigs.

On the night I thought everybody was great.  There is always a palpable buzz when Tony Martin joins us and this show was no exception.  Cal Wilson changed where she was meant to be appearing on the set list at the last minute and wasn't fazed in this request once again knocking it out of the grounds as Adele.  We even managed to get a little bit of respect for James Fosdike, the artist who has contributed illustrations to some of the best Australian podcasts and abroad.  Fosdike was in the audience and it was nice to make a fuss of him for all the work he has produced.

I have no doubts that I can be at times difficult to work with but when a night ends up as great as Monday night was, I feel pretty justified in my approach.  Maybe I'm jumping at shadows but I read people well and can tell when they're in pissy pants mode with me. Whatever.  The audience is there to be entertained and the show needs to be as amazing as it can be.  Some nights it might not get there but I never want it to be through a lack of effort.


Justin Hamilton

27th of November, 2013

Fitzroy North