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

We made it! The final blog for the year covering the final four shows for the year.  It has been a long and strange 12 months with some giddy highs and depressing lows when looking at the greater picture but for the most part the gigs have been solid.  Most of the ups and downs with gigs usually come from where you're at in your personal life but when looking back on it in hindsight I'd say the majority of gigs were fantastic.  I'd say the worst gig I did all year was in Edinburgh at Late and Live but that was entirely my fault as I chased what I hoped would be a cracking story...and just ended up having to deal with a bit of a dull gig. A good lesson to learn and a reminder that the best stories just happen.  In trying to manufacture something memorable I made a shambles of my spot.  These things happen. All you can do is learn and move forward.

We finished the year off with season 10 of The Shelf and I think it was one of our best yet. There was a consistency across all three shows and I felt the last show in particular was easily one of our best single shows.  From the sketch comedy of Aunty Donna to the character pieces by Cal Wilson to the loosely scripted work of Watson to Claire Hooper's unique approach I felt our core group were stronger than ever. Not to forget the sterling work by Adam Richard as co-host and the people who work behind the scenes like Jodi, Jason and when called upon Claire. It was one of the smoothest seasons we've had yet.


A blurry picture of Watson that is in complete contrast to how sharp they were onstage.


There were a few bumps along the way that of course were completely out of our control. On the opening night one member of the Aunty Donna boys was struck down with food poisoning but they soldiered on to such an extent that most people wouldn't have known there was anything wrong.  In our second week we had to deal with the tragic news of our friend Stella Young dying on that weekend.  In our third week it was the horrific siege up in Sydney that had to be addressed while it was still happening.  Our frequent shelvers are the smartest audience in the country and to ignore these events in our second and third shows would have been an insult to the people who come to the show.  Both of these openings were some of the most difficult topics I've had to work on but with the good energy of the crowd and the support of the comedians behind the scenes I felt like we managed to elevate the shows to greater heights.


Here's the set list for the first show:


December 1st:  The Shelf


Tony Abbott Rant


With the first show I played around with some of the political material I'd been working on and also had a roll of the dice on some of the topics within the routines to see if they were still relevant on the night.  For the most part the material still rang true and there were only a couple of references that felt dated.  It doesn't take long for political based material to date so you have to be prepared to either discard a routine early or find a way to keep it fresh for further down the track.


December 8th:  The Shelf


Stella Young Tribute

Can’t Drink Anymore


This was a particularly tough gig to start as I wanted to pay tribute to our friend without being maudlin.  I also know Stella would have been furious with me if I had carried on too much and it was important to get the balance right.  It is up to the audience to decide if I got it right or not but it felt like it worked on the night.  If you'd like I have an interview with Stella that I recorded at the beginning of the year on my podcast "Can You Take This Photo Please?" that is free to download.  You can hear it at the site or on iTunes, just click on the links to check it out.  I'm going to miss her dearly and I think she's fantastic in this interview if you're interested.


For some reason this photo of Adam Richard and Adele makes a lot of sense in the context of The Shelf.


On the following night I was down at the Hotel Barkly headlining at a gig run by Evan that is an absolute cracker of a gig.  Evan does a great job of selling the night to the backpackers who live there and runs a very tight show.  He also put on some excellent comedians I hadn't seen a lot of in the past and I thoroughly enjoyed having a gig where I could break out a vast array of different routines to just play with.  Here's the set list for that show:


December 9th:  Hotel Barkly


Little Boy at Wedding

Turning 40

Invite To Parties

Hairy Baby

Breaking Up Through History

Tram Story

Glitter in Invitations

People Wearing Your Glasses



I finished up the gigs for the year with the finale of The Shelf for season 10.  I had read about the siege taking place from about 10.15am and I remained glued to the computer and TV keeping an eye on how it was going to play out.  I knew my audience was too smart for me to not mention it but I had to find a way in that was sensitive to the situation while addressing the concerns of the people at the show.  My way in was to use a bit of misdirection.  I talked vaguely about the events of the day and once people thought I was talking about the siege I launched into how great it was to see Kobe Bryant overtaking Michael Jordan as the third leading scorer of all time in the NBA.

Once that joke was down I then moved focus to the siege and I approached the whole event by looking at the media and the people on social media who were making it all about themselves.  Unfortunately there were plenty of people out there doing this type of thing (the people taking "selfies" at the site should be ashamed of themselves) and this allowed me to address the situation without being callous or disrespectful of the event.  Once again you'd have to ask someone at the show if this worked but from my perspective it seemed to find the mark.


December 15th:  The Shelf


Siege in Sydney

Before The Internet


This was my "exciting" Xmas present from Adam handed to me onstage at The Shelf.


As stated above the show was a corker and easily one of my favourites for the year. It was a great way to say goodbye to 2014, a year that was extremely challenging for many reasons but hopefully has lead to us all being stronger for it.  Hopefully anyway. I guess we won't know until 2015 starts but fingers crossed we'll all have a more positive and optimistic year ahead of us.

I was thinking of finishing the blogs after this year.  There has been easily over 200,000 words written in this blog and it is time consuming to say the least.  Yet it is nice to go back over some of the blogs and see the year laid out before me.  What do you think?  Do you feel like you still get something out of these blogs?  I'm up for any thoughts on the whole matter.  I'm about to take a good chunk of time off to reenergise myself for the beginning of next year.  I can't wait to not think about comedy for a while, watch some movies, read some books, talk to some people outside of the business and hopefully come back refreshed and ready to rumble. Maybe the blog will come back.  I'll wait and see how I feel at the start of the year but feel free to let me know if you still enjoy them or not.  I can do a tally and see if that helps me make a decision.

Otherwise my new show "Snacks!" is just around the corner with the Adelaide Fringe (on sale here), the Perth Fringe (on sale here) and season 11 of The Shelf (on sale here) not really that far away.  In the meantime I hope you have a relaxing Christmas break, a naughty New Year's Eve and a safe few weeks over the summer.

I'll see you again some time some where for some reason in 2015.


Justin Hamilton

17th of December, 2014

Fitzroy North