2014 Gig Forty Six: The Shelf

There were a few things going on for the first show in season 9 of The Shelf. To begin with when we turned up the staff at The Toff In Town has already set up the room.  This is something that usually Adam Richard and I do from around 5pm. Instead when we arrived it was already looking like this:


This is a nice view to be greeted with when you arrive to set up a room.


With nothing else to do other than run our techie through some of the cues for the night I could go over my setlist.  Normally I write a lot of new material for The Shelf when it is a season outside of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.  During a festival though there is so much work to do I don't have time to write a new opening for three weeks running.  Also the MICF brings in a slightly different audience so I like to be in a position where I am servicing their needs while also doing the right thing by our Frequent Shelvers by not producing work they've seen too often before.  I then also have the responsibility of opening the night strongly to help set the pace for the show. With this line up below you don't want to have the first routines opening soft.  Here's the line up:


Wil Anderson

Cal Wilson

Charlie Pickering

Josh Earl

Tom Ballard

Claire Hooper

Justin Hamilton

Adam Richard


Tegan Higginbotham

Miss Itchy

Girls Uninterrupted

Ben Ellwood


These blurry cats are Girls Uninterrupted who were the first act up.


What I decided to do was open with a routine that was from the second half of last year but is also a routine that I don't perform that regularly.  I then went into the vault and found a routine I hadn't performed since 2007.  This was my opening set list:


Fix Your Flaws

Baby With Lolly On Head

Battle of the Bands

"What's A Bit Of Wrinkle When You're Drunk"


I have no idea why I don't perform the Fix Your Flaws routine more often.  I actually forget that I have it in my back pocket and thank goodness I am writing down my set lists for this blog because otherwise I think I'd have forgotten I had it long ago.  It is a fun routine to perform so I'm not certain why it keeps slipping my mind.  I should rectify this even for a little while.

The last three parts of the set list are from my 2006 show "Smash!" Here's the little story that revolves around the "Wrinkle" part of the routines.  That last piece was a very concise routine for me in that it last less then three and a half minutes.  I was invited to perform at the 2007 Comedy Festival Gala and since I was given three and a half minutes to perform I knew it would be perfect.  On the night I had a corker.  I was about the third act on, the audience was still buzzing and to be honest with you I nailed it. I've had gigs where I've underachieved or basically sucked but this was one of those nights where you hit your words cleanly, the audience reacts exactly how you want them to and you can walk with your head held up high that you did your job as well as you can.

Then a few nights later, about two hours before the Gala was to be aired on TV, I discovered I'd been cut.  While it is disappointing these things happen.  To be honest I would have had the lowest profile on the Gala so if they need to make time I was always going to be the one his head on the chopping block.  Very disappointing but you deal with it.  It is more difficult having to tell family and friends that you're not going to be on because then you have to manage their disappointment as well as yours.  I know of one comedian who hadn't been told he'd been cut and sat down with all of his friends to watch only to get to the end and realise what had happened.  That is much worst!

When I watched the Gala I was disappointed to find that some acts that had struggled on the night had been edited beautifully so they looked like they'd killed.  In hindsight this doesn't bother me but back in 2007 I was pretty gutted.  I did what was asked of me on the night, received a fantastic reaction and now people who hadn't quite nailed it were bing rewarded.  I was so disappointed that I stopped performing that piece and hadn't even looked at it until yesterday.

Basically I decided to use The Shelf as a means of exorcising old demons and also I was curious to see what I would bring to the routines now with another seven years experience.  They felt a little basic to perform but I was pleased to find that the jokes in them were still relatively strong.  I could possibly bring these routines back especially for more conservative type shows like corporate gigs etc.  I asked a couple of the Frequent Shelvers if they could pick when the routine was from and I was chuffed and surprised to discover they got 2007 correct.

It was also interesting to perform and find the little "Hammo-isms" in the routines.  This must have been where they were beginning to take form and while I have improved as an act I still keep very much to some lessons I learned from long ago.  The spacing of the characters came back to me with ease and I have to say I still enjoyed performing the routines.

The show last night was a corker, possibly one of the best yet.  Every time I think of a highlight another jumps up and says, "Hey, don't forget about me!"  From having the "Spicks and Specks" team onstage telling stories they could never tell on their show, Cal Wilson nailing it while being sick, Claire Hooper being hilarious while dealing with a body that has just given birth to a human child (If you were there you know what I'm talking about), to Wil Anderson, Charlie Pickering and I all talking at Lehmo at the same time with a wonderful tag from Adam sitting out in the dark.  Everybody did a great job last night and it was a particular thrill to have Tom Ballard, Ben Ellwood, Josh Earl and Miss Itchy on for the first time alongside regulars Claire, Cal, Tegan Higginbotham and Girls Uninterrupted.


Another blurring shot of Cal Wilson as Adele taken from the back of the room.


A fun night that played out exactly how you want The Shelf to work.  It is consistently going to be the biggest night of the week for me over the course of the MICF but if it continues to be this much fun then the work that goes into it will be secondary.  Today is all about getting some rest before I head out to see some shows and perform my solo show later tonight.


This photo of these two idiots was taken by Miss Itchy.


Justin Hamilton

April 1st, 2014

Fitzroy North