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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

One Last Cigarette

I wrote these lyrics in 1999 to a song about witnessing an incident at a party that, after re-reading the lyrics ten years later, I can still remember quite distinctly.

And fuck you if you say it sounds like Time Of Your Life. I wrote it before that song.


The sky at night was dark before the stars were ever there
They tried to find a summer flame to light the summer air
The meal was burning out the back but no-one even cared
It was here... all the same
I turned my eyes, looked to the sky, the stars were not alone
They took a shot and missed the spot but came within the zone
Directed me back to the place, the place I thought was home
Now it's gone, it's all gone away

And in between the parties and the driving license test
They did all they could do but then they couldn't do their best
And questions with no answers, answers time would not forget
Who'd have known all along
Who was right, who was wrong
Who would use up the last cigarette

And sitting there just thinking if the paycheck made it through
Of alcohol and not at all of loves they never knew
If everything you ever wanted ever wanted you
You'll would think it never meant a thing

And in between the parties and the driving license test
They did all they could do but then they couldn't do their best
And questions with no answers, answers time would not forget
Who'd have known all along
Who was right, who was wrong
Who would use up the last cigarette

And now the years are closing in, the phone still never rings
The nightmare in my head is gone, I'll dream of better things
And here I'll wait forever if this diva never sings
Don't you think there'd be more to this?

And sitting there just thinking if the paycheck made it through
Of alcohol and not at all of loves they never knew
If everything you ever wanted ever wanted you
You would never think it ever meant a thing

And in between the parties and the driving license test
They did all they could do but then they couldn't do their best
The rest is in the ending but the ending can't be guessed
Who'd have thought, who'd have known
What we thought was our own
Nothing's quite what it seemed
Who'd have guessed, who'd have dreamed
Who'd have known all along
They were right, I was wrong
So they used up the last cigarette

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Taco Night With Jewelchic

Proper blogs about the Melbourne trip to come, but I HAD to share this video of going over to Megan aka Jewelchic's place for Monday night tacos... a fun fun night.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Repeating Myself (But With Pictures)

A video blog about the shows I'm seeing in Melbourne. Effectively repeating what I said several blog entries ago, with some changes.

We're not seeing Maeve Higgins' show now because of a clash with Celia Pacquola, but we're seeing her at the Festival Club tomorrow night anyway, so it works out. Great great lineup at the Club tomorrow - Adam Hills, Jason Byrne, Tom Gleeson, Nina Conti, Rich Hall, Maeve Higgins, James Galea and Al Madrigal.

Added The Shambles on the recommendation of Spinks and Daniel - funny Melbourne sketch comedy guys, have their own show on Channel 31 in Melbourne. Check out their YouTube channel.

Kitson sold out in one day. Damn.

Taking the camera (the old Panasonic one) to do any video blogging or else they'll be on my phone. Meeting up with a familiar YouTuber (can't say who) on Monday night to make up for the absence of shows. So expect a video or two on each of our channels.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Comedy Festival '07 Diary - Part #2

-- Saturday April 21st --

Woke up at about midday on the futon couch, considering I didn't get to sleep until 4AM. Daniel went to the gym. Marion offered to make breakfast – poached eggs on toast. Al had left at 8 that morning, so we didn't get to say goodbye. Marion turns on the Mac laptop to read information about Vanuatu (since she's moving there in a few months).

As we eat, I show her Law Revue clips on YouTube. She's an ex-Revue cast member too (from 2003), and hasn't seen the show since it moved up to the Schonell. She utters phrases of amazement at Harry Potter, Queen Medley, One Year More and is stunned by how much of an impact Daniel had made on the show. I also show her Pass It On, Snakes on a Plaintiff and The Westpac ATM which she also enjoys.

Al sends Marion an email telling her his international flight to LA has been delayed in Sydney for ten hours, due to electrical problems.

Daniel gets home from the gym. We decide to go to the National Gallery of Victoria that afternoon to try and find birthday gifts for the spate of birthdays coming up soon. There's a showing of works by year 12 Victorian art students.

It's a miserable day already. It starts raining. Me in Melbourne without an umbrella. Good one James.

Marion, Daniel and I are walking along Flinders Street up towards Federation Square when we randomly run into Genna again, so we invite her to come with. We get lunch in a tucked away seafood shop. Marion brings in a soup from the café next door, Genna and I both have fishermans baskets.

Eventually we reach the gallery and it's a really interesting display. There are some which are just crap and some with striking colours and visuals. Genna is standing in the middle of the gallery with an iPod. She offers me the earbuds to listen to the song "Milk" by Kings of Leon. We start randomly dancing as if we were in a club… but we're in an art gallery. There's a video/movie/animation room as well, but they're mostly weird.

After taking the art gallery in, we take a look in the giftshop but considering we know nothing about the artistic tastes of the people we want to buy for, we let it pass. There's a stunning book of photographs called "Heaven To Hell" by David LaChapelle. Outside is a weekly second hand book sale at which I almost buy a book on Tantric Sex as a joke gift.

We sit in a café with Genna, her friend Monty (an Israeli photographer). When we discuss celebrities we find attractive, Monty just refuses to answer, saying he doesn't see the point. Daniel's friend Kelsen (is that it??) whom we had met the night before arrives, as does Brock, a friend of Monty's who is looking for an apartment.

I'm developing a headache. Feel quite crabby.

While all of this is going on, I'm trying to liaise with Sam Whittington and Spinks, to organize getting out to St. Kilda for dinner before the shows tonight. Eventually, we get out to Sam and his lovely fiancé Denisse's place in St. Kilda – Sam's just been admitted as a lawyer as of last week – WOO HOO. Denisse shows off the lucha libre mask she bought for Sam to wear to a party that night.

We drop them off on our way back into the city, bolt back to Daniel's to get our tickets, leap into a cab to the HiFi Bar and JUST make it in time for…


The Hi-Fi Bar is a famous venue in Melbourne. Opposite the Town Hall. There is a big crowd this night. As we race downstairs in time, we sit in some seats marked RESERVED but nobody ever tells us to move or sits down next to us.

David O'Doherty is a scruffy looking Irishman who Daniel and Spinks have talked up big time. He apologizes for eating a Butter Menthol on stage, that it's "just plain rude". He's a musical comedian and plays on an assortment of cheap Casio keyboards. He does quirky songs with in-keyboard drum beats. One funny one that sticks out with me is one about him having "Mild Supernatural Powers". Another one is one about bitching about someone in a text message and then sending that message to the person you're bitching about. For his final song, he unrolls a rubber keyboard that looks more like a mat, that he says he bought for $5 in the Ukraine. He goes 10 minutes over his set so he can't do an encore. He bolts from the stage to do a poo, and as the crowd cheers, we're asked to leave so they can set up for the next gig. It wasn't quite the show I was expecting but I definitely had my share of laughs at the show.

And it wouldn't be the final time we crossed David O'Doherty…

We head up the stairs and see the lineup for The Festival Club, which is a nightly show with rotating rosters of comedians. Tonight, it's going to be packed. As I run off to get a coffee at 11PM, Daniel heads out to a Warehouse party somewhere, and Spinks waits in line. When I get back, Spinks decides to run over to Town Hall to see what else is on and if he can get tickets to Wil Anderson. He can't so we go into the Hi-Fi Bar again. We wait in the bar for about twenty minutes until they open up the main area again…


The Festival Club is a brilliant idea – four comedy acts per night plus an emcee. The place is packed. Spinks and I set up on a table rather than a seat this time, so we can drink. The effect is that it feels like we're watching comedy in a bar, rather than a comedy venue, and it feels good. I'm still pretty tired though – I couldn't get a coffee, so I bought a Red Bull from the 7-11. Not kicking in yet. Maybe it was the James Boags I'd just drunk as well.

Spinks notices someone who could very well be Daniel Kitson in the crowd. He also spots someone with a fake moustache…

Russell Howard is the emcee for the night. Brimming with enthusiasm and energy, he bounces around the stage and throws jokes and quips rapid fire whenever he's on. He picks on a guy wearing a tank top at the front of the audience with huge muscles, and gets him to come up on stage. The guy clocks his head on the massive hanging speaker. They get his fiancé to come up on stage as well as they both kiss his muscles while a photographer for the Hi-Fi Bar takes a snap for the website. Also during the night, Russell mishears every single thing that a heckler coming from behind us says… until the heckler invades the stage. But it's all in good fun and it never devolves into anything nasty.

Sam Bowring is the first act up. I'd been telling Spinks that he has a recurring character on the Comedy Channel as a consumer activist. His standup is pretty decent – he doesn't do it in character, it's just him. It's off to a good start.

The second act brings the whole show to a standstill – The Suitcase Royale. This is an excursion into the weird. It looks like it's going to be sketch comedy or something but out emerges three weird looking guys – one sports a fake moustache and flying goggles, another looking like the retarded cousin of Billy Bob Thornton's character in U-Turn, Gollum and Yon from Tripod (no offence Yonny, I think you guys are the absolute bomb).

They do some weird non-sensical sketch that appears to be parodying wartime adventure serial films. I later would learn that the concept is that everything they use is stuff they've fished out of junk yards and skips.

But it's just crap. Nobody is laughing - people get restless, and urge their mates to yell at them to "GET OFF". The joke of the night for me comes not from a comedian on stage but a clearly frustrated female patron standing behind us who complains "I've had periods funnier than this!"

Eventually, they finish with a lip synching of Meat Loaf's I Would Do Anything For Love But I Won't Do That. It's an improvement on a weird and unimpressive set, but I suspect the Hi-Fi Bar on a Saturday night wasn't the appropriate venue for them that night. I must have really missed something.

They did some bit about a lighthouse – one of the guys puts on a lighthouse prop on his head. Drawing on the connection between Meat Loaf and "a lighthouse", Russell takes suggestions from the audience as to what other things could be connected to a singer. What the drunken crowd members come up with is "a cottage" singing Axl Rose. Eventually, a drunk guy takes the plunge at Russell's request to come up on stage and sing Sweet Child O Mine while Russell sits on the stage like a little house. It's actually pretty funny to look at.

The third comic – I can't remember anything about him. Even his name. I apologize. YOU WERE GOOD THOUGH. If anyone knows who he was, please let me know. I know he was a sight improvement over the previous act though.

Andy Zaltzman is the final act of the night. Russell talks this guy up as well. From behind the curtains emerges a man who, appearance and hair wise, is a dead ringer for Steven Wright, but is nowhere near as deadpan or slow speaking. Andy frequently outs himself as a Jew and makes lots of really funny calls during his set about the state of politics. Lots of historical references as well – he was a smart comic for a late night gig at the Hi-Fi Bar. A really funny satirist and a good way to end the night.

Andy and Russell banter some more (or "riff"). Russell teaches Andy how to be riffing comedian by picking on someone in the audience.

But it's not the last time we would cross paths Andy Zaltzman...

Two people from the Comedy Festival appear onstage to announce the nominees for the Barry Award, which include Daniel Kitson and David O'Doherty.

As another band emerges on stage at 1:30, I leave Spinksy to finish his Guiness and enjoy the music.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Comedy Festival '07 Diary - Part #1

So I cut and pasted this from my MySpace blog of yesteryear to give you a taste of how much I, being not from Melbourne, fell in love with the city courtesy of the Comedy Festival. All of these links and images are from the 2007 site.

I've cut and pasted it as it was written, including ridiculously paranoid thoughts written at the time about my ex-girlfriend. I left these in not because they still affect me, but because it was all part of this fantastic trip.

I was there for three days. I wrote recaps of days one and two but not three. Unfortunately, I can't remember that third day now in the same level of detail. :(

I intend to do something like this for this upcoming trip. Twitter will certainly help me remember minutae and feelings/thoughts I have at the time.


This is Part One of my memories of what happened over the best weekend I've had in a long time.

Let me preface this with this statement - the Melbourne International Comedy Festival is the best time ever to visit Melbourne. Fuck the AFL grand final, and fuck the Australian Open. There is this whole feeling in the air around this time of laughter and merriment. There are no egos with the comedians - they're entertainers. They're normal people who just like to get up on stage and entertain you. A lot of the time it was just banter between the comedians and the audience, or their comedian mates in the crowd. I felt like it was Woodford again, except spread out over a whole month - you could go up to these guys after the show and thank them, and they're COMPLETELY appreciative. You can have a beer and a chat with them and they don't mind.

This is going to be an annual pilgrimage for me if I'm not living down there by this time next year.

Anyway, because this was a massive weekend, I'm splitting this up into the three days I was there for. I will be mostly writing in a Bret Easton Ellis style of random thoughts with little proper sentence structure...

-- Friday 20th April 2007 --

Up at 4:30 to have a shower, shave and feed. Dad drives me to the airport. I get an aisle seat but I don't mind. Arrived in Melbourne at about 10AM.

Picked up by Daniel and taken back to his place. WOW. A three floor apartment in North Melbourne, a verandah with city views, ten minutes walk from the CBD. Every wall is peppered with pictures and art. Daniel shows me a cool little thing he did at the Laneway Festival and a digital camera where he got all of these strangers to pose as if they were whispering into someone's ear. The effect was a Chinese Whispers type effect with strangers. It looks awesome.

Met Marion's bf Al who is a DUDE - he is a cool and really nice guy. He tells me about all of his efforts to get onto game shows and how he'd recently gotten onto Temptation. He won no money, but had decided early on to just buy everything - a good plan, considering even the carryover champ LOST EVERYTHING except the free pen. HAHA. He ended up with $1800 worth of women's clothing... and the free pen. Al was prepping for his amazing world trip on which he was embarking the next day - roadtripping across America to see several music festivals then through Europe and Asia.

We go to Daniel's work - Koko - a very classy chocolate store/cafe - because he left his keys there. He'd taken Spinksy there the day before, and the girl behind the counter thinks that Spinks is Daniel's boyfriend! We laugh about it forever and call Spinks to share in the hilarity of it.

We go to the Uni of Melbourne so he could have a brief meeting with Steph, his co-director of the Monash Law Revue. He says Steph reminds him of me, and she is weird and zany and really cool as well - if these two are in charge, it's going to be a really great show. Daniel has a knack for making friendships with really nice people, and Steph is the key example of that. :)

We go back to Daniel's place to attempt some writing and brainstorming ideas but it devolves into an argument about finding humour in disabled people, and how far is too far. Spinks drops by at about 4:30/5ish with a very nice pinot noir from Tasmania (can't remember what it's called but it was a lovely drop of red indeed).

After a shot of Chantreuse each, we all left to Chinatown for a quick dinner at Shanghai Dumpling House. This place is talked up by Spinks, Daniel and Marion as being "iconic" for having very low standards of health, and you wouldn't ever go there sober. We were joined by Genevieve - one of Daniel and Romy's friends, who works in Canberra and is in town for work - who is an absolute sweetheart. We drink a Smirnoff Black each and scoff the cheapest dumplings in town.

We soon race from Chinatown, leaving Genna with the promise of meeting her later with Romy, India (Romy's sister), Marion and Al. We make it JUST in time
for my very first comedy show of the festival...

Tim Minchin's show is at the RMIT Capitol Theatre. As I had heard from many many people, I witnessed an undeniable truth that is not done justice until you actually see it: Tim is an AMAZING NAY BRILLIANT NAY MASTERFUL pianist - I only wish we'd had seats where we could see his fingers work those keys. But I gotta say, for all of the hype around Tim and the fame that precedes him, this particular gig didn't strike me as amazing. People have been urging and urging me to see him. But I had heard all of the songs before, notably the "We Don't Eat Pigs" song, "Canvas Bag" and "Rock and Roll Nerd". The encore was a really sweet and touching song that I liked with the hook "it's not perfect... but it's mine" while singing about his world... then his house... then his body... then his brain. It was soft and sweet like Ben Folds' "Still Fighting It". I was also feeling the effects of the alcohol through the whole show - I was cross eyed and seeing double. :p Anywho, I liked the show overall - I was humming Canvas Bags and We Don't Eat Pigs the rest of the weekend.

But by the end, the alcohol had worn off, my sight was restored and it was time to move on.

Daniel and Spinks head over the road to the Town Hall where there is a massive chalkboard with all of the performances that night. I however bolt to Federation Square to see...

Now, I wanted to see this because I almost submitted Pass It On into it, but didn't because I never got all of the release forms signed (notably Andrew Hansen, although Julian Morrow sent me his). So I wanted to gauge how this would have gone.

The only Tropfest movie I saw in it was Pig Latin, a funny one starring Stephen Curry about two cops who visit their childhood friend's place to try and impress him by the fact that they're now cops. They confront his mother when they want to play with all of his toys. There was also a funny one which blended impromptu street filming with actual acting, about a man with a condition that causes him to randomly turn into a puppet of John Howard. And a really short one about an awkward moment between two bomb defusers.

But overall, I was sitting there thinking - in all seriousness - Pass It On would have EASILY made it into this show. A lot of them were weird and not funny, particularly a B-grade sci-fi film that was just stupid.

Daniel and Spinks joined me towards the end of it to say they were going to see Josh Thomas at the Town Hall.

But before that ... we make a detour to see Adam Hills signing DVDs and merchandise at the end of his show. We congratulate him and leave him our numbers in case he'd be interested in doing something for the Revue when he tours later this year. He sounded positive but time will tell. He's a genuinely nice guy either way.

We also see Andrew Denton leaving the theatre but think it's not best to bother him, considering he's out with his family. But it won't be the last time we cross Denton that weekend...

Josh Thomas won Raw Comedy in 2005. This was my first experience with Josh - again, someone I had heard a lot about, seen bits of on TV, but never seen live. He's a charming enough guy, I suspect he's embellishing a lot of his insecurity - I can never work out where his character ends and the real Josh begins. It's a decent and intimate show, considering we're sitting in the Lunch Room of the Melbourne Town Hall. Josh goes on for an hour and a bit non-stop, drawing on his high school years of agony and embarassment.

It turns out he went to Kenmore State High. He asks if anyone actually knows about it, and of course, we, the Brisbane guys, shout out yes. We don't think he believes us. After the show Spinks reveals that Karla had recently told him she had a friend who was doing a show down in Melbourne. Spinks said "What's their name?" and of course she says "Josh Thomas." Karla too had gone to Kenmore State. In fact, when he started telling stories about a "Claire" from Kenmore State, a part of me was thinking "Wait a minute... has he just changed the name??" (2009 ed. - this was the paranoid shit I warned you about, complete bullshit speculation on my part, apologies)

He hands out badges saying "please like me" on the way out - we say congratulations, how we're down from Brisbane, and that it was a great show. He's humble and says thank you. But he probably forgot about us sixty seconds later.

We slowly made out way over to Federation Square again for what I considered to be the best show of the night...


A big top tent set up in Federation Square. Every Friday night, it's a musical comedy spectacular. Marion and Al are already there. Spinks recognizes Anyone For Tennis, who are one of the acts that night and Raw Comedy finalists, so he chats to them. I see Josh Thomas again in the crowd as well.

The show is hosted by The Bedroom Philosopher who is a brilliant emcee and compere. My favourite joke of the night was his...
Q: How many Wolfmothers does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: None - Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath changed it in the 70's!

First up is Josh Earl - a librarian turned musical comedian who does a decent five minute set.

Next is Benny Davis, who I had recognized from this famous YouTube video.

This has the crowd in absolute stitches - he had updated the songs by adding The Only Gay Eskimo, Where Is The Love, Cigarettes Will Kill You, and many others. He changes the time signature twice, and he gets RAPTUROUS cheering and applause.

Tim Minchin is the finale and I enjoyed it way more than the earlier show at the Capitol for some reason. In the intro to Palestine Peace Anthem (We Don't Eat Pigs), someone in the crowd goes "wooo!" in a quiet part. After a pause, Tim just says ... "Jew". The crowd pisses themselves.

Other acts (and I can't remember the order) are...
- Anyone For Tennis - a decent song from these guys but I much preferred their performance at the Raw Final (see below)
- Geraldine Quinn - not too impressed comedically but has a helluva powerful rock voice
- Jordan Raskopoulos - better known as the guy from Ronnie Johns. Has a funny and surreal set. Wears a giant fake lobster claw on one arm, goes to the keyboard and plays a deliberately "one fingered" version of The Final Countdown with his claw. He then does some strange standup with a "colour" motif and leaves.

After the show, I give a massive congratulations to Benny Davis, saying we're down from the UQ Law Revue (because he's a uni revue performer as well) and that he was amazing. Benny is really appreciative - he's surrounded by his mates from The Delusionists who were also uni revue guys doing a show.

But this was definitely not the last we would see or hear from The Delusionists...

I also say hi and congratulations to Tim Minchin on the way out who is also incredibly appreciative of the thanks and a nice guy.

Outside, Daniel had met up with Felicity Ward. He used to write for the Ronnie Johns Half Hour, which Felicity also writes for and stars on (you'd probably recognize her as "Poppy", who shows off her pictures of what she sees). Felicity seems like a genuinely sweet and friendly person, and it was really nice to meet her.

After that we track down Romy and India and their friends in a Japanese bar in a back alley, and then we all end up at REALLY smoky karaoke bar till after 2 in the morning. Daniel, Spinks and myself walk Genna back to her hotel by about 3, and we catch cabs to our respective places of rest...

The Plan For Melbourne

So Jac and I are headed south to Melbourne in just over a week and we went through the Comedy Festival guide and picked out a shortlist of shows to see. The aim was to see acts and shows that would not be likely to come to Brisbane - hence we omitted big name acts like Tim Minchin, Arj Barker, Stephen K Amos, Dylan Moran, etc.

(I tried to tabulate this before but it made my blog look all fucked up like.)

So here is just the list of the shows I am to bear witness to out of hundreds in Melbourne over the week of the 18th to the 25th...

In the order I'll be seeing them...
AH FUCK. I just realized I forgot about Daniel Kitson. Who's getting the chop so I can see him...
... maybe the lawyers.

A few years ago - on my MySpace blog - I did this massive play by play of my four days in Melbourne for the festival and what I saw and who I met. Covered David O'Doherty, Josh Thomas, Laughapalooza, The Delusionists, Tim Minchin, etc. It was very detailed. I hope to do that again this year. It really is a great experience. Love Melbourne, love the comedy festival. I remember there being zero ego by all the performers if you went up and chatted after a performance.

I really hope it's like that this year again. :)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Savage Garden Philosophy

I came to the conclusion that Savage Garden were shithouse philosophers.

Case in point. The Animal Song.
Animals and children tell the truth, they never lie
Which one is more human? There's a thought, now you decide.
... well, it's children. Obviously.

The children are more human than animals.

Because... you know... they're human.

It's not particularly deep.