The Shelf

2015 Blog 29: Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney. Gigs 178 - 182

A couple of weeks ago I was approached by Rove McManus to move to Sydney to work behind the scenes on his new breakfast radio show.  It was the type of offer that comes from out of the blue and at an interesting time in my life.  I have loved living in Melbourne the past 13 years but in recent times felt that I was in a bit of a rut.  There was nothing particularly wrong but there was also a lack of adventure in my every day life.  To overcome this I had projects like "The Shelf" but even then it was beginning to feel very much like I was spinning wheels.

You may have heard me talk about this on my podcast "Can You Take This Photo Please?" but I'm going to repeat it here because I feel like this was important advice given to me when I was younger.  My friend Richard took me aside when I was in my early thirties and told me to look out for my mental health in my early forties.  That period can be a tricky time for men and Richard had experienced two of his good friends commit suicide at that age.  I took that advice and filed it away for when that far away magical age should appear.  

Sure enough in my early forties I think I understood what Richard was telling me.  Of course I understood it intellectually as a guy in his thirties but at this age I understood it emotionally. From my perspective it felt like people start treating you as if you no longer have potential. That whoever you are now is who you're going to be for the rest of your life.  I've never felt that before and while it might be something that I was projecting it definitely felt real to me.  I guess if you're not happy with where you're at in life then that could be quite a daunting prospect to overcome and I could see how people might make some foolish decisions.

From the moment I fully understood what Richard was talking about I have been putting parts of my life on hold to make certain I didn't succumb to this way of thinking.  There was a reason that this year's stand up show, "Snacks!" was a fun, upbeat show that spent a lot of time looking backwards in my life to make sense of where I am today.  I wanted an upbeat show that would be performed many times and not only engage with the audience but also give me something positive to come back to night after night.

When Rove called and offered this job as "Creative Producer" (Fancy title, right?) it felt like the type of opportunity I needed to kickstart the next phase of my career.  I want to continue to grow as a performer and writer and this was a great way to stimulate the creative side of my life. I want to round myself out as a person and chisel away at the preconceived notions that other people might have while also building myself back up to be a better version of "me".  I want to shed this dark cloud that has been dogging my every step for the past year and see what I can turn into once it is gone.  Self improvement is only achievable if you're willing to change and change can be equal parts terrifying and exhilarating. So I said yes and am currently living in an apartment in the city while I look for a new place to call home.

I would be lying if I didn't say that I feel exhausted and the new breakfast radio show hasn't even started yet!  Moving house is stressful and I've been flying back about the country honouring my work commitments that were already booked in months ago.  In the past month I have flown to Perth, Darwin, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.  It has left me on edge and tired.  My season of my new show "Hoot!" begins in Perth toward the end of January which when you take into account a new job and the Christmas break, doesn't leave me a lot of time to get the show right. I love stand up and performing on the live circuit has been my bread and butter for 21 years.  I don't want those skills to atrophy over the course of this radio commitment.  I've always prided myself on committing to live performance yet I can already tell this is going to be the biggest challenge of my career trying to maintain a certain level of professionalism while changing my lifestyle.  Who knows what the future holds but in the end I guess that was the whole point.  I wanted adventure and something to happen that would shock me out of the melancholy that had begun to haunt me.  Now here it is and we'll see what happens.

Gig wise I was up in Brisbane at the Sit Down Comedy Club for the first time in quite a while. Three nights at the Paddo looked like this:

 

22nd and 23rd of October:  Sit Down Comedy Club

 

Plane vs Lightning Storm

Water On Mars/Photos From Pluto

Just Like Shit!

Interstellar Message

Nostalgia

Smooth and Smoother

Justin Bourne

Uber Stupor

Kenya West

Viv Richards

Adam Goodes

Mum At 19

Frankie Called Me a Bastard

Catching and Distributing Mice

Gay Banana

Mum Is Stubborn

Bob and the Joker

Mum's Frustrations Are Now Mine

Hushed Angry Conversation

 

Apart from the final routine this was all new material that needed to be run in.  I thought the Thursday night show was better than the Friday night.  I think I was better on the first show with quite a bit of energy that I chased a little more in the second show.  I also thought the audience was more in tune with some of the topics I was discussing on the Thursday night.  I think my talk about racism on the Friday night was not a topic that a percentage of the audience wasn't interested in at all.  That is fine.  When an audience isn't in tune that is when you learn the most about your new material.  It gave me a good look on some of those new routines so I could really get my head around what could be improved upon.

On the Saturday night we unfortunately had a few tables of drunk people in at the show.  On one table there were a group of girls who thought the show was all about them.  Right next to them were a group of guys who would let you know they weren't into you by getting on their smart phones until the act finished.  Both of these tables were right up the front too so happy, happy, joy, joy.  Up the side was another group of women on a hen's night so they were FUN too.  All these tables made it difficult for the night to progress and I decided after watching the first half that I would do some new material up front but for the most part I'd concentrate on doing an airtight club set.  This wasn't the night to be playing around with new.  In fact I just wanted to do my job and get out of there since those punters had annoyed me so much with their disregard for the comedians I was performing with that night.  

 

24th of October:  Sit Down Comedy Club

 

Plane vs Lightning Storm

Water On Mars/Photos From Pluto

Just Like Shit!

Interstellar Message

20s, 30s, 40s

Hairy Baby

“I Don’t Give A Hoot!”

Hushed Angry Conversation

Glitter in Invitations

People Wearing Your Glasses

People Watching Movies Out of Context

Islamic Writing

Bjork CD

Spooning

 

Before I went onstage I told the crew that I was going to do 40 minutes without breathing and that is exactly what I did.  I performed most of my set looking past the front tables and engaging with the rest of the poor audience who were there to have a good time.  It is frustrating when you know people have paid good money to see a show and their night is ruined by the myopia of a few people in the audience.  I think the show finished well but after talking to some of the punters at the end of the night I could only feel annoyed that the night had been sabotaged by these rude tables.

From there I flew back to Melbourne to work on how I was going to proceed with the upheaval of my life while working on the new show.  I flew to Darwin on the Friday night for a corporate gig and then to Sydney on the Saturday.  The company is putting me up for the next month so I can hopefully find a place to live in that time.  On the Tuesday I flew back to Melbourne for the first show of the "Can You Take This Photo Please?" live season at The Toff In Town.  I had wanted to try and work on some new skills and thought the podcast being turned into a different type of live experience would be a nice challenge.  On the night of the first show I opened with some stand up, New Zealand comedian Guy Montgomery also performed some stand up and then participated in an interview with me.  Josh Earl knocked it out of the park with some music and then after the break I interviewed Judith Lucy and Denise Scott.  I had such a great time and loved everything that the performers brought to the stage.  My opening looked like this:

 

November 3rd:  "Can You Take This Photo Please?" Live

 

Not The Melbourne Cup

First Time In 13 Years

Richard's Advice

Male Role Models Come From TV

New Job

What is Superannuation?

What is Holiday Pay?

What is a Sick Day?

Saying Goodbye To My Hairdresser

All Star Comics

My Doctor Was At The Hives

My Landlord's Daughter Loves Interstellar

Giving Away Stuff

My Sydney Plan

Everyone Hates Hammo's New Girlfriend

 

There was a lot of new material involved and it was fun to have a play with new ideas to a great audience.  It was such a fun night and I'm looking forward to the next two shows although it is going to be a challenge.  We start breakfast radio tomorrow so late nights are going to kick my arse but we'll make it work even if I have to sleep...well, I'm not certain when I'm going to get to sleep.  Christmas I guess?

I flew back to Sydney on the Wednesday and continued working at the new job.  On Friday I jumped up to do a small spot at Happy Endings.  I was going to work on more new material but a few things worked against me on the night.  Firstly Tom Gleeson was in town and jumped up to also work on new material and the audience was (rightfully so) excited to see him.  I followed and while they were fine to see me it was definitely not the same excitement they had for Tom.  That makes a lot of sense as he has a much higher profile and if I hadn't been so tired on the night I would have insisted that Tom had gone on after my spot as that would have just been a bigger build for the audience.  I know how to put a night together but I was just a bit vague before the gig and let that one get away from me.  There was also a heckler in the audience (there appear to be a lot more around these days) who was belligerent and tedious which made it difficult to get a handle on the new material I was trialling.  I gave up the idea of working on the new halfway through my set and finished with some routines that I know back to front.  I dealt with the heckler, he was an easy target because he was such a tool but it was disappointing.  I was feeling the effects of the previous week and just wanted to blow out some steam and see if I could learn something the new gags.  It went fine but in the end I would have been happier to just go out to dinner and get to bed early.  

 

November 6th:  Happy Endings

 

Plane vs Lightning Storm

Water On Mars/Photos From Pluto

Just Like Shit!

Interstellar Message

Hushed Angry Conversation

Spooning

 

It has been an interesting few weeks and it isn't going to slow down.  I'm going to learn a lot and it is going to be a challenge to see how I manage everything from here.  My Saturday was spent looking for a new place to live and working until about 10.30pm at night.  I was in bed soon after that and I'm back up today at 6.30am trying to work on all of my little projects.  It is going to be a juggling act but I wanted something to shake up my life and here it is.  

 

Justin Hamilton

8th of November, 2015

Sydney

 

 

2015 Blog 26: The Shelf, The Comic's Lounge and Regional SA. Gigs 160 - 170

It has been a while between drinks...or blogs to be more accurate.

Over the past couple of weeks I've taken some time out from the world of gigging and social media to try and reset myself for the run up to the end of the year.  This has been a productive time and also a trying time in many ways.  When the opportunity came to return to Adelaide and spend time with my family for my birthday I knew it was the best thing that I could do. This industry can be so inspiring yet draining.  If you're not careful you can leave yourself exhausted especially if you try to fit too much into a day. That day becomes a week.  That week becomes a month.  Before you know it you're half way through the following year wondering what happened to get you to this point.  I have that performer's mentality where you say yes to just about everything because in the back of your head you have that fear that it could all end tomorrow.  In the process you can inadvertently push aside the important parts of your life and neglect them to such an extent that you have trouble recognising yourself.

The goal in my 43rd year is to take time out and be a little more selfish. Take time out from the industry and spend more time with those friends that I grew up with.  When your job blurs the line of going to work and being social it is important to reassess the lines and make them more prominent. Just because you work with someone it doesn't mean they're your friend. Just because your friends don't go out at night it doesn't mean they don't have time to see you.  Just because you're tired doesn't mean you can't find time to make contact with the people who matter the most.  

Anyway this all seems a little heavier than I intended but I find around my birthday I constantly try to take stock of where I'm at, what I can improve and what I can build on for the future. Having quiet time in Adelaide amongst family and a select group of friends can really help out with that.

Shows in this period were all over the place.  It was indeed a bizarre run of gigs that left me a little exhausted and on edge.  In fact the last had me not dealing with a situation very well at all but we'll get to that at the bottom of this blog.  

The last two shows for season 12 of "The Shelf" were great though.  Excellent audiences, terrific line ups and a lot of fun.  The set lists were:

 

August 24th:  The Shelf

 

Kenya West

Meeting Viv Richards

Adam Goodes

 

August 31st:  The Shelf

 

Basketball Coach

Operation Fortitude

Smashing Stuff

Blender

Forgotten Kid and His Kid

 

Both gigs were uniformly great and I've been happy with both seasons we've had this year.  I also felt that maybe there was a creeping malaise that while all three shows were of a high standard maybe the show itself had become a victim of expectation.  I didn't feel that there was a stand out moment that had me excited or buzzing.  In defence of the show there are few gigs in a year that really hit the heights of inspiration.  Once it becomes a job it is exactly that and you have to temper expectations so you don't walk away from a really good show feeling disappointed.  It is one of the most difficult aspects to conquer in your professional life.  I think when you start the highs are so amazing and the lows are so depressing it is easy to ride that pendulum back and forth.  Over time though you recognise most situations and therefore it is more difficult to be surprised or inspired.  

This feeling was probably my feeling alone and I don't want to suggest this was what people were experiencing backstage or in the audience.  Yet for me it felt like I had done all of this before and I wasn't certain that I was learning anything new from the show.  With that in mind I talked to Adam Richard, The Toff in Town and my management to come to the conclusion that this was the final season of "The Shelf" for 2015.  We'll bring it back next year for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and with a big block of time between now and then, I hope that the inspiration will find a way to help me find the heights it has hit in the past.  Instead in November I'll be hosting three live shows for "Can You Take This Photo Please?" with guests Judith Lucy, Denise Scott, Tony Martin, Lehmo, Anne EdmondsGuy Montgomery and more. Check here for details.

In between the second and third shows for "The Shelf" I was a guest on The Dollop live podcasts with Dave Anthony and Gareth Reynolds at The Comic's Lounge and in Adelaide at the Arkaba Hotel. After the Adelaide show we put on a bonus gig at The Rhino Room which included Greg Fleet. This was a fun and anarchic show that started at 11pm and finished around 1am.  I hosted and the opening of the second bracket was literally 15 minutes of me telling Fleety to stop interrupting me with comedy gold.  A lot of fun for a show that felt like it should have been a part of the Adelaide Fringe.  Here's the set list for the opening bracket:

 

August 26th:  The Rhino Room

 

Justin Bourne

Uber Stupor

Hollywood Is Mental

Australian Movie Universe

 

From there it was a four night stand at The Comic's Lounge with me hosting, Celia Pacquola headlining, Geraldine Hickey opening and Harley Breen supporting.  On the Friday night Dave Thornton filled in for Harley who was already committed to a gig on the Gold Coast and young fella Ciaran Lyons also joined us at the top of the show on the Friday and Saturday night. This was a challenging run of gigs for a bunch of different reasons.

The first show just felt a little flat.  There was nothing wrong with it per se but it felt like the audience never quite got on board from the get go.  I'm guessing that the first two days of the week had suggested summer was finally here and then on this Wednesday night it was suddenly back to being freezing so that could be a very legitimate reason for an audience not having the energy you'd expect.  Everyone performed their arses off though and as I said up above, you have to recognise a show for what it is and then work out if within those parameters whether you pulled it off or not. I think we did but it also felt like hard work.

 

September 2nd:  The Comic’s Lounge

 

1st Bracket

 

Biker Gig

Justin Bourne

Uber Stupor

20s, 30s, 40s

Hairy Baby

“I Don’t Give A Hoot!”

Hushed Angry Conversation

 

2nd Bracket

 

Can’t Drink Anymore

 

3rd Bracket

 

Before The Internet

 

The second night of the run was a standard show although I noticed that there were a lot of older people in the audience.  This is not the worst thing in the world when you have a show that runs for an hour but as the night progressed from the first bracket to the second and onto the last bracket I could feel the energy drop.  I definitely felt at the top of the third bracket that they'd had enough of me over the course of the night and just wanted Celia on the stage.  That is fine. Sometimes you get that as the host.  You can't...or shouldn't...take it personally.

 

September 3rd:  The Comic’s Lounge

 

1st Bracket

 

Biker Gig

Justin Bourne

Uber Stupor

20s, 30s, 40s

Hairy Baby

“I Don’t Give A Hoot!”

Hushed Angry Conversation

 

2nd Bracket

 

Can’t Drink Anymore

 

3rd Bracket

 

Before The Internet

 

On the third night when I arrived I was informed we were going to start the first bracket with the lights on in the audience so a professional photographer could take pictures that showed how big the audience was. Audiences hate being lit up because it makes a very different type of energy in the room.  People feel self conscious.  It undermines the comedian because there are more distractions that can be seen in the room.  It isn't a great situation to be in.  If you ever see one of your favourite comedians doing a day time gig you will notice they are exponentially less funny.  It just isn't the right vibe.  Still I figured I would do my best and had decided to play around with my material so as to generate some fun.

One minute into the show after I'd finished the house keeping I was heckled by a punter.  It wasn't particularly funny or clever but it came right at the beginning while I was trying to set up the night that was already strange because of the lights on in the crowd.  I proceeded to go to town on this guy for a substantial amount of time and while it generated a lot of laughs it had me pitching my performance for the rest of the night slightly bigger than I would have liked.  Once the testosterone begins to flow it is hard to put a cap on it and while the night was a success I can't say that I really enjoy that type of performance.  I did my job but it isn't the type of comedian I like to portray onstage.  

 

September 4th:  The Comic’s Lounge

 

1st Bracket

 

Heckler

Biker Gig

20s, 30s, 40s

Hairy Baby

“I Don’t Give A Hoot!”

Hushed Angry Conversation

 

2nd Bracket

 

Before The Internet

 

3rd Bracket

 

Glitter in Invitations

People Wearing Your Glasses

People Watching Movies Out of Context

 

By the time I reached the final show I was keen to just have a good time.  It had been a good but bumpy ride and I just wanted to enjoy performing with my friends in a venue I've had a lot of good times in.  Suffice to say this is not how it played out.  It is too complicated to get into but between a couple of drunk friends, some more heckling and a couple of rednecks in the audience who were causing a scene out in the front bar, there was a bad vibe and a level of aggression I am not interested in.  When I was younger there was a sense of pride in being able to stare someone down and mentally eviscerate them with your humour but that was a long time ago. This night when the heckling began it was even earlier than the night before and I felt tired even having to deal with it.  I dealt with it throughout the night and would say I won the battle but it was exhausting.  I'm lucky that most of the time my job is a lot of fun.  Not many people get to say that.  Unfortunately though no fault of anyone involved it felt like a lot of work.

 

September 5th:  The Comic’s Lounge

 

1st Bracket

 

Heckler

Biker Gig

20s, 30s, 40s

Hairy Baby

“I Don’t Give A Hoot!”

Hushed Angry Conversation

 

2nd Bracket

 

Before The Internet

 

3rd Bracket

 

Glitter in Invitations

People Wearing Your Glasses

People Watching Movies Out of Context

 

I had a couple of days off before flying to Sydney for a debate and then it was on the road with Tom Gleeson for shows in Bordertown, Murray Bridge and Millicent.  Gleeson is one of my closest friends and the opportunity to be on the road with him was just the tonic I needed.  The gang behind Big Brown Productions put on some great nights and I just decided I'm going to do the same routine each night and be quite relaxed.  On the opening night in Bordertown the set list was the following:

 

September 10th:  Bordertown

 

Kid At Captain America

20s, 30s, 40s   

Hairy Baby

“I Don’t Give A Hoot!”

Hushed Angry Conversation

Can't Drink Anymore

Mum and Her Cats

Before the Internet

Glitter in Invitations

People Wearing Your Glasses

People Watching Movies Out of Context

Spooning

 

This was a really fun gig including the old lady in the audience who appeared to be off her tree for the whole show.  Gleeson and I thought she was hilarious but after talking to punters at the end of the night I think she drove quite a few people mad.  I can understand how that happens and it was disappointing to know that some people had their night tainted by a crazy woman's ravings.  

Our next night was in Murray Bridge and this gig started off on fire:

 

September 11th:  Murray Bridge

 

Biker Gig

20s, 30s, 40s   

Hairy Baby

“I Don’t Give A Hoot!”

Hushed Angry Conversation

Can't Drink Anymore

 

Break

 

Little Boy Joke

Can't Drink Anymore (reset)

Mum and Her Cats

Before the Internet

Glitter in Invitations

People Wearing Your Glasses

People Watching Movies Out of Context

Spooning

 

This gig was an absolute belter and I was having a great time when a young girl in the audience suddenly had an epileptic fit.  I can only imagine how scary it was for the girl, her family and everyone in the vicinity.  I could feel something was going wrong in the audience and once we knew what was happening I had the lights turned on and moved everyone out into the foyer to give the family some privacy.  Weirdly enough this isn't the first time this has happened to me or Gleeson so I felt fairly confident about how we had to deal with it.  Once we knew the girl was fine and the audience was settled we started the show again and I slowly eased back into my set. The audience were fantastic and we had a great night.  We found out that the girl and her Mum were able to joke about it in the ambulance and from all reports she is in good shape now.  Still, that is very scary stuff and hopefully nothing like that will happen again for the girl and her family.

Our final gig was in Millicent and Gleeson opened the show the same way he had the previous two nights by walking out onstage and introducing not just how the show would work but also me as the support act.  The first two nights were great but on this night there were a couple in the audience who piped up when Gleeson announced he would be out later. 

"We don't want a support act," I heard one of them say to Gleeson. Unfortunately it was close to my entrance and Gleeson missed it.  I tried to block it from my mind but when I walked out I noticed this older couple just refuse to look up at me while I was onstage.  I can't stress how great the rest of the audience were but throughout my set this couple talked, refused to look up and then eventually walked out to great a drink.  It is one thing to have an audience not like your material but to have people not even give you a shot is mildly infuriating.  Still I ignored them and continued with my set which was the following:

 

September 12th:  Millicent

 

Biker Gig

20s, 30s, 40s   

Hairy Baby

“I Don’t Give A Hoot!”

Hushed Angry Conversation

Can't Drink Anymore

Mum and Her Cats

Before the Internet

Glitter in Invitations

People Wearing Your Glasses

People Watching Movies Out of Context

Spooning

 

At the end of the night Gleeson and I had been finishing the night off by getting onstage together and riffing with the audience.  It had been a lot of fun and the audiences had been great. Yet in my gut I felt this night was going to be different.  I knew this couple had it in them to get a bit lippy and without fail the man had a crack at me about my delivery and how I was a liar.  That is one of the more bizarre heckles I have received but what annoyed me was that I know they hadn't given me a go having made up their mind when Gleeson said he had a support act.  After two weeks of weirdness onstage to have someone have a crack that I felt wasn't fair was too much for me. 

So I had a crack back.

And another.

And another.

And when everything was really awkward I embraced the awkwardness and had another couple of cracks.  To say that the night was totally derailed would be an overstatement but Gleeson definitely had to do some dancing to get it back on track.  It was not very professional of me and I should be above that type of stuff.  Yet at the same time I wasn't going to stand back and let this arsehole feel like he'd gotten away with his comments.  To be honest it has been so long since I had a brain fart like that onstage I have to admit it was mildly exhilarating.  This is not something I want to get in the habit of and what I should have done is nailed this guy with a smile and some jokes peppered amongst the truth of it all.  

Sometimes you have to call an arsehole an arsehole.  

And I did.

Probably a bit too much. 

Gleeson and I had a good night later sharing stories about the times we have lost it at someone onstage and while it isn't something to revel in it does make for a pretty funny night.  This outburst though told me I was tired and needed some rest.  After these gigs I returned to Adelaide and kept a very low profile by staying away from social media, comedy and work in general.  I would have preferred not to have had that moment in Millicent (And by the way the rest of the audience was fantastic.  A lot of them came up to me after the gig to have their crack at the guy I had to deal with.  Sometimes arseholes can be positive by bringing good people together.) but when something like that goes down all you can do is take a step back, learn from it and move on.

And that is that.

 

Justin Hamilton

25th of September, 2015

Fitzroy North

2015 Blog 25: The Shelf and Chapel Off Chapel. Gigs 155 - 159

At a time when it can be quiet on the circuit I was rapt to have a very busy August.

Between The Shelf starting up and a quick trip back to Adelaide to appear as one of the guests at the live recording of The Dollop, I've only just had an opportunity to sit down and write about these gigs.  In fact we won't get to The Dollop shows until the next blog so consider that a bit of radio sizzle skill as I let you know what is coming up after this Stereophonic triple play.

With season 12 of The Shelf starting up all efforts were funnelled into opening night.  Once the season begins I find the season quite easy to manage but I'm mildly paranoid I'll forget something important in the lead up and the show will unravel before my eyes.  With a stellar line up to juggle and a desire to start strong I spent a lot of time preparing for this gig.

I think the show itself was excellent but I felt a little removed from the opening.  It was frustrating to have that type of start because I thought the preparation was good and the material relatively strong for new routines.  I even added a little extra to the Justin Bourne story that may find a way into next year's show, "Hoot!"  I'd had a distracting afternoon and unfortunately it followed me onto the stage.  Luckily one of the team from my management group was there and when they pointed out that they felt I was a little distracted it actually helped me refocus.  From then on I felt like I was back in form but it was annoying to not be quite on top of it at the start.  I have to bring a certain energy to the show as the host and it was definitely not quite up to scratch.

Booooo to mediocrity, right?

I'll have to do the right thing by the material in subsequent gigs.  Here's the set list from the opening night:

 

August 17th:  The Shelf

 

Justin Bourne

Uber Stupor

Hollywood Is Mental

Australian Movie Universe

 

The next night I ran the workshop and hosted the open mic night at The Comic's Lounge.  I enjoy these types of nights and the new comics that came to the workshop were interesting and asked good questions.  I didn't know the workshop was supposed to finish about half an hour before the doors were opened to the general public and instead went right up to almost the start time of the show.  That was a two hour workshop and to be honest I was knackered by the beginning of the actual show.

(Yes, I am trying to bring "knackered" back to the everyday vernacular.)

So once again I started the night a little low in energy and it came through in my performance. Two nights in a row!  Bah!  I was 100% peeved at myself and could feel the gears crunching in my opening set as I fought my own lack of energy and attempted to corral a mildly apathetic audience into line.  

By the beginning of the second bracket I was so annoyed with myself that I brought a much better energy to the show that was fuelled completely by frustration.  Never let it be said that negative emotions can't be turned into something positive.  

In the end it was a late night and between the workshop and the show I'd practically talked on an off for nearly 5 hours.  I can imagine a lot of you out there thinking that might be four and a half hours too many and to be honest I don't necessarily disagree.  Here's the set list:

 

August 18th:  The Comic’s Lounge

 

1st Bracket

 

Biker Gig

20s, 30s, 40s

Invite To Parties

Hairy Baby

“I Don’t Give A Hoot!”

Hushed Angry Conversation

 

2nd Bracket

 

Can’t Drink Anymore

 

3rd Bracket

 

Before The Internet

 

I had the following night off before launching into a three night stand at Chapel Off Chapel as part of the "Glow Festival".  Each night there were different headliners and support acts while I hosted all three shows.  With line ups that included Dave Thornton, Tommy Little and Cal Wilson, these were three fun shows that allowed me to work in a different part of town and a venue I'd never set foot in before.  I can't believe I'd never been to Chapel Off Chapel and not only was it fun to perform there I was over the moon that my atheist vibe didn't set off some residual faith that may have been floating in the rafters.  

 

Here are the three set lists:

 

August 20th:  Chapel Off Chapel:  Headliner Dave Thornton

 

1st Bracket

 

Kid At Captain America

20s, 30s, 40s

Invite To Parties

Hairy Baby

“I Don’t Give A Hoot!”

Hushed Angry Conversation

 

2nd Bracket

 

Justin Bourne

Uber Mistake

 

 

August 21st:  Chapel Off Chapel:  Headliner Tommy Little

 

1st Bracket

 

Biker Gig

New Year’s Resolution

Happiness

Gym

“I’m Entitled To My Opinion”

Islamic Writing

Bjork CD

Scouts Gig

 

Between Acts

 

Hushed Angry Conversation

 

2nd Bracket

 

Glitter In Invitations

People Wearing Your Glasses

Watching Movies Out Of Context

Spooning

 

 

August 22nd:  Chapel Off Chapel:  Headliner Cal Wilson

 

1st Bracket

 

Kid at Wedding

Can’t Drink Anymore

 

Between Acts

 

“I Don’t Give a Hoot!”

Hushed Angry Conversation

 

2nd Bracket

 

Before the Internet

 

All three of these shows were a lot of fun and it was also a great opportunity to catch up with some friends I hadn't seen in quite a while.  I gave myself the challenge to not repeat myself for the staff that worked at the venue and apart from a few repeats between acts in the first bracket I was able to keep up that side of the bargain.  Often it is easier to stick with what you know works in a space but I think that can lead me to lose focus a little.  With some of the distractions I had earlier in the week I wanted to make certain that didn't happen this time and while I know all that material works it was fun to keep on my toes.

A weird week where I started my first two shows slowly before finding form and then finished the week off with a bunch of fun gigs.  I guess it isn't a bad thing to know that sometimes if you don't hit your stride straight up you can still grind out a good night.  When you're younger I guess once the night starts one way it usually stays that way.  Always a positive to learn some new lessons about yourself while still doing your job.  

Having said that no more slow starts please.  Time for this guy to focus a little more at the start, push distractions aside and do my job properly from the outset.

 

Justin Hamilton

2nd of September, 2015

Fitzroy North

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Did you miss The Shelf last night?  If so you missed this line up:  

Wil Anderson

Hannah Gadsby

James Acaster

Cal Wilson

Claire Hooper

Justin Hamilton

Adam Richard

Lehmo

Tegan Higginbotham

Corey White

Lessons With Luis

Wizard Sandwiches

Alice Fraser

Tracey Cosgrove

Fan Fiction Comedy featuring Joseph Moore

 

 

The calm before the storm.

 

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

Mount Isa

"I Heard Gravity"

Biker Corporate Gig

 

I took this photo 25 minutes before the show was scheduled to begin.

 

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.

 

Thank you to Rebecca Dunbar for taking this photo.

 

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.

 

Justin Hamilton

8th of April, 2014

Fitzroy North

 

 

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