AddThis Feed Button

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.

No comments: