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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...

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