Tara Fergus Deano & Margie Kirsty Wilson Danielle Kutchelle Tim Logan Michael Connell Rob Caruana Carly Milroy Beau Fitzpatrick Emily French Dane Hiser Peter Green Matty B Xavier Toby Beau Fitzpatrick Ailsa Dunlop Seaton Kay-Smith SF Lyons Greg Kimball Steph Grey & Robin Taylor
7 Aunty Donna 8 The Variety Collective 9 Stomach Ache 10 We Should know better gallery 11. We Should know better review 12. Challenge the loop 13. Never say this in Japan 14. Variety Collective gallery 15. The Film guy 18. Geraldine Quinn Feature 23. The Polemic: An interview with Steve Hughes 27. Raw Talent 28. Gifted 29. Why do we joke about... 30. Swimming in the deep end 31. Deal Breaker 33. Good God Almighty! Brendan Burns and Mick Foley 38. Little Melly 39. Cave of the Wim Wam 40. Mallow 41. Boorowa Bikes 44. Comicsuuuuuwa!
FROM THE EDITORS: Oh hey, Beau. Hi Carly. Did you know it’s 2013 now? I know! Did you know this conversation isn’t really even happening? Yes. We’re not fooling anyone. We should run you through what’s on the cards forYAWP this month, I suppose? ‘Cause, oh my mercy, there is just heaps going on! For instance, on this January cover, you’ll see we have a hot new illustration from our feature artist of this month. Artist and designer Laila Aznar has started YAWP off for 2013, with her illustration of Melbourne’s hilarious comic songwriter and performer, Geraldine Quinn. Every second issue, the YAWP cover will now feature an illustration of our feature comedian. We strongly encourage artists to contact us via email@example.com if they would like to apply to have a go at being our feature illustrator. We know you’re out there, you paint-wielding masterminds! We were lucky enough to pick at the delightful Geraldine Quinn’s brain, hearing about her experiences as a comic in festivals, on YouTube, and at home. As if that wasn’t enough to satiate your interview-reading thirst, we also spoke with Mick Foley, Brendan Burnes, Steve Hughes, and the boys from Aunty Donna. There is just so much chit chat happening. For your reading pleasures, we also have the usual true stories, fake stories, reviews, and photo galleries. Get used to it, because...
WWW.YAWPMAG.COM.AU GOES LIVE ON FEBRUARY 8TH! We are practically gnawing our knuckles off our hands just thinking about how exciting this is. And by practically, we mean literally. The site will be hosting chat forums, comedy classifieds, more articles and reviews than you can shake a stick at without damaging your computer screen. And in April: YAWP PODCAST. So if you’re in Melbourne, make sure you get down to the
YAWP LAUNCH PARTY AT SPLEEN BAR FEB 8TH, 8PM - 11PM.
Absolutely everyone who loves comedy is welcome to come and party with us. We want to meet you. We want to drink with you. We want to introduce you to a special hilarious man-guest who will be helping us launch the site. Many thanks, as always, to the hard work from all contributors across Australia this month. We adore you and what you do. Particularly big back-pats goes to the tireless dedication from Brendan Croxon, our web technician, who has had to endure many many hours of us smrudging his computer screen with our grubby fingers. For now, until we see you at the party, happy reading!
Beau & Carly
Laila Aznar COVER ILLUSTRATOR
News & Reviews
AUNTY DONNA: Cop it.
By Tara Fergus Three boys from Melbourne comedy
troupe, Aunty Donna, are the most amusing people I’ve met in a long time. Adrian Dean, Mark Bonanno, and Zach Duane are three quarters of the sketch comedy quartet, together with Broden Kelly, who I didn't have the pleasure of chatting with. As an interviewer, you never know what to expect from your subject. You always hope it’ll go well; that you’ll be witty and well researched. Sometimes there are delusions of grandeur, and being compared to Andrew Denton doesn’t seem so farfetched. Most importantly, you should be in control of an interview. After perusing their YouTube channel and reading a few reviews, I thought I was prepared to meet the guys behind the fast-paced and filthy comedy stylings of Aunty Donna. I was not. I am appalled by my own naivety. Aunty Donna began in 2011, bringing together the current line up and Ballarat Arts Academy alums, Dean, Duane, Bonanno, and Kelly. “We had an initial meeting at Starbucks in February. It was great, and we were really cooking with gas and getting into it. Then we didn’t speak for a few months,” says Zach. “Nothing positive eventuated,” adds Mark. Joe Kosky was also an original member, but left the group to join the Australian company of Jersey Boys.
“The second he left, everything started to go really well,” says Adrian. “It’s funny how things just fall into place, because he wasn’t an asset to us at all and we don’t talk to him anymore.”
My mention of it leads to an 8 minute discussion on the topic. After apologising to the wide-eyed woman sitting next to us at the notably public bar, I decided to close my notebook. It was unnecessary.
The group rapport is obvious, and tangents are plentiful. From musings on relationships, to Lindsay Lohan, to bodily fluids, the interview is starting to feel more and more like performance art… I foolishly endeavour for straight answers.
Semen talk over, I receive my first almost serious answer of the night. Do they worry about alienating part of a potential audience, I ask, which could hamper wider exposure and success?
With so many opinions, the challenges of writing a comedy show as a group are different to that of a single comic. Disagreements about content and narratives are bound to come up. “There’s a lot of bad ideas. We have a head writer though, Sam Lingham. But he’s very unfunny,” says Adrian, “Zach wrote a sketch called Milk Crate On Head. The premise was he walks in and has a milk crate on his head.” “It’s single entendre humour. There’s nothing there,” adds Mark, vaguely disgusted. Zach is undeniably the mutinous force in Aunty Donna. He cut a highly successful "felching sketch", which caused much animosity between the other members. But, to be fair, Zach wasn’t the only one with complaints. “There was also the police issue - they got involved, and the lawyers. We were taken to court,” says Adrian. “Apparently [felching] is illegal to perform in front of a paying audience. Especially if you ask them to volunteer.”
“It’s almost impossible not to alienate, or offend anyone, so we sort of go for everyone,” answers Mark. His comrades agree. “Don’t come and see a comedy show if you’re afraid you’re going to be offended,” adds Zach. But it’s Adrian who sums up the thought, and the theme of the night perfectly: “If you’re coming to a comedy show at eleven at night, expect to cop a load on your face.” If, however, you don’t feel like copping a load on your face, I urge you to watch their channel 31 series, Aunty Donna’s Rumpus Room, which is part of the LA Webfest 2013 official selection. The series is comprised of seven short episodes. All hilarious in nature, most are satirical spearings of everyday situations. It’s “less intense” than the live shows. After almost an hour with the boys, I feel a bit exhausted. I’ve also come to the sad realisation that I’m no Denton. But that’s how it is with Aunty Donna; dissipate the delusions of grandeur and just cop it on the chin.
Legal issues aside, the troupe’s latest Fringe Festival offering is Aunty Donna and the Fax Machine Shop. One reviewer described it as if Agatha Christie was a thirteen year old boy who had just discovered naughty words. “I’ll be honest with you, the premise we had going into it was based on a true story, about the Jamaican bobsled team trying to make it to the Olympics, coached by John Candy,” said Dean, “But we’re not very good writers so we took the art nouveau road.” The show also contains a lot of “semen talk”. Actually, there’s an 8 minute sketch entirely on the subject of male specific bodily fluids in the show.
Aunty Donna will be reworking Aunty Donna and the Fax Machine Shop at the 2013 MICF. 28 March – 20 April 2013, Portland Hotel, 11pm. Tickets on sale now. You can find Aunty Donna’s Rumpus Room at TheAuntyDonnaChannel on YouTube.
THE VARIETY COLLECTIVE
BY DEANO & MARGIE L
et's face it. Our Wednesday nights are usually spent sprawled out on the couch in our pyjamas, watching Arrested Development on DVD. Not a great sight, we agree. Saving us from our lameness, The Variety Collective is a night well spent with quality entertainers, good company, and unpredictable old fashioned fun! Held at the intimate Brunswick Green every Wednesday at 8pm, the stage is separated from the bar, so you can enjoy the show without locals interrupting. The food is decent, the drinks cheap, and the atmosphere welcoming. The show we attended was themed "Tropical Heatwave". Although the weather was anything but Tropical, the audience were so keen to see the performers that no one took much notice. The night began with host, Nicholas Johnson, bursting onto stage. Johnson is a comedian, magician, and balloon animal savant. He oozes experience. Within minutes, the audience was not only engaged, but actively participating in the show they had come to spectate. As a pair of new comers, we were instantly set at ease with Johnson's likability and wit. His ability to host is commendable. This, along with the quality of the acts, differentiates The Variety Collective from any amateur variety show. The evening's first performer was a man who is no stranger to YAWP: Award winning comedian, Neil Sinclair. Trying out new material, Sinclair brandished an awkwardness that allowed for laughter, even when jokes misfired. The lanky comic's humour is sharp and creative. Most importantly, his writing is smart, and his comedic timing on point. Also on the bill was axe-wielding sensation Elena Kirschbaum, who dazzled with her juggling skills. A short-but-sweet performance, we only wish that she could have been up a little longer. Highlight of the night came in the form of magician, Nick Kesidis. Kesidis' charming personality captured the audience's attention immediately. His close-up magic tricks were both engaging and awe-inspiring. As if us booking him for our next ten birthday parties isn't enough of an indication of his brilliance, we're still trying to figure out how exactly how his last trick worked. Our attempts later that night proved futile... One thing we know for sure, this magician is a man with a bright future ahead of him. Go and see his street show! Knock knock. Who's there? Just mathematical genius/comic, Simon Pampena. Part performance art, part enigma, Pampena's unconventional comedy was not for the light hearted. Audience reactions ranged from shock to laughter, with the entertainer performing hits such as 'Poo Jam Mother F**ker' a personal favourite. Simon was individual in his delivery, bringing us plenty of laughs. Minnie Andrews, a funky jazz singer, took to the stage last. Covering frickn' Snoop Dog - or Lion - as her final song, the audience sat in awe of this singer's soulful tone and old-school class. She is a talent; her laugh-out-loud one-liners added zing to an already quality performance. The shows' acts are diverse, with the line-up changing each week. Unlike the unpredictably of the acts, you now know how we will be spending our Wednesday nights. Come and join us at The Variety Collective.
For more information on The Variety Collective and the lineups, visit their website at: www.thevarietycollective.com
STOMACH ACHE COMEDY BY KIRSTY WILSON The Stomach Ache Comedy Christmas Special was a great chance to hear some up and coming laugh-masters experiment with their material. MC Brett Blake went to special lengths with his Santa hat, Chrissie deco’s, and carols for background music. His ridiculous Christmas Quiz Game, which actually had nothing to do with Christmas, was a source of much amusement. Blake even brought gifts: Mi Goreng noodles and a toilet roll. Well, as Nana says, "It’s the thought that counts!" The Barley Corn Hotel is home to Stomach Ache Comedy, which has been running every Tuesday since November, 2012. The managers at the Collingwood pub are passionate about supporting local acts. This not only means you get a healthy dose of laugh therapy, but you also get to smash some yummy $4 pizzas, and $5 drink specials. They don’t even charge for the show; you just put some cash in the bucket before you leave. If you happen to be one of the superstar comedians up on the big stage yelping down the microphone, they’ll even shout you a free pizza! The festive occasion was a total mixed bag of styles and content. Michael Teychenne took the Christmas theme and ran with it, possibly even writing new material especially for the night.
Eccentric Fredrich Jones’ unusual nursery rhymes and long pauses incited random bursts of confused appreciation. Fast-talking and full of attitude, Blake and his rigged Christmas Quiz kept the tempo upbeat between the varying humourists. Unsuspecting participants were taken complete advantage of when asked to read out terrible, and tasteless, jokes. Onlookers had a chuckle at their expense. Chris Dewberry kept it clean and safe, while Mitch Alexander taunted the politically correct with almost every taboo topic you can poke a filthy stick at. Yes, there were people laughing. And groaning. Headlining the night was English-born Alan Driscoll, who took the opportunity to share some slightly-too-intimate details of his sexual journey thus far. He also posed some questions around killing things. Although compassionate and sensitive, probing some worthwhile social and global topics, the performance felt less like entertainment and more like a monologue. The Islamic poetry in particular was… unexpected. To wrap things up, Driscoll relied on some of his sure-fire material that got the punters cackling. Going to a local pub comedy night promises the opportunity to witness different levels of comedic abilities, that can be both amazing and disappointing. One thing is for sure, it’s a privilege to be there witnessing the process of comedians experimenting, and polishing up their act. Stomach Ache was one such evening. And the best part is, you can brag about how you were there - from the very beginning of your nervous, blundering, just-starting-out comedic underdogs' career, when they rise up and hit the big time. Now that's special.
For more info on Stomach Ache events, check out: facebook.com/StomachAcheComedy
YAWP @ WE SHOULD KNOW BETTER
WE SHOULD KNOW BETTER BY DANIELLE KUTCHEL If the cancellation of a certain music/ comedy television quiz show in 2011 left a hole in your comedy schedule, then mourn no longer! A small bookshop in Fitzroy may have the cure for your withdrawal. Located on Johnston Street, Hares and Hyenas is an inconspicuous bookshop, selling literature catering to members of the queer community. After business hours, however, the cosy store turns into a perfect home for the out-there, in-your-face, live panel quiz show: We Should Know Better. Created by Melbourne's Peter Hayward, We Should Know Better keeps to a standard format. Two teams compete to answer familiarly funny questions and games. However, the evening differed from other television quiz show cousins, with a unique focus on sexuality, drugs, and porn. Hayward is a likeable, self-deprecating host, leading the two teams down a rainbow rabbit hole. He invites the audience to come along for a weird and colourful ride, joining in on the moans, groans, and excitement of the panel guests. It’s loud, lewd, and crude. And it works. The team members are an eclectic bunch. In terms of their sexual identities, some are out and proud, some straight, and some apparently unsure. One thing is certain though: There is no room for homophobia here. The show is a real display of the way in which comedy dispels prejudices, in order to bring people together for a good time. Those with a low tolerance for expletives, or an aversion to certain parts of the body, be warned. This is an intimate show, and I’m not just talking about the audience’s proximity to the panel. Fortunately, there didn’t seem to be many reserved audience members at January’s show. Instead, young and old arrived to take advantage of the cosy atmosphere, the cheerful staff members, and the summer cocktails.
Oh, and the kissing booth with regular team captain Sarah Jane Haywood, with the proceeds donated. That may have been, ahem, a key attraction... Aside from that, the atmosphere alone is enough to make you want to come back. We Should Know Better is just a fun, chilled way to spend the evening. How often do you utter “analingus” in a social context without seeing the room rapidly empty? Maybe you and I move in different circles, but at We Should Know Better, refreshingly the audience seemed to lean forward in eagerness to hear it again. For those on a budget, this is a cheap monthly laugh with entry only $10. You certainly get more than your money’s worth. It’s like a gossip sesh with your best mate, complete with all the juicy stories. What better way to spend an evening?
We Should Know Better happens again on February 15th, at 63 Johnston Street, Fitzroy. Tickets are available for $10: trybooking.com/38871
CHALLENGE THE LOOP
“I’m pretty sure all the answers are right here.” He said, holding up the AFX Thunderloop Thriller box. And he was right. Because that’s where we eventually found the name for what is quickly shaping up to be a fledging, alternative comedy festival, taking place right here, real soon, in our comedy hometown of Hobart. Challenge The Loop, we’re calling it. One venue, two nights, five different shows, buy one ticket and you get in to every show. That’s the loop. But the loop is also the norm, the convention, we want this thing to have some kind of subversive strain of bastard DNA in its makeup. Like the frog bits in Jurassic Park, comedy will always find a way… ‘He’ is Matt Burton; Comedian, poet, former army reservist, vagabond. He now lives in Melbourne and runs the monthly Super Show, a night as crazy as it sounds. We started doing stand up round the same time back in 2005/6 and have been good mates ever since. So we both wanted to do a show while we were still around. You see, Matt was about to go back to Melbourne and then who knows where, (he’s like that), and I was sorting a visa out to move to Oakland, California, possibly for the rest of the year. (I’m not like that, but my professor girlfriend is, and she’s there so I’m going) But within a few manic, possibly drunk minutes, the idea of doing a simple split bill show grew into a mini festival and that was why we consulted the oracle of desperate comedians everywhere…the AFX Thunderloop Thriller. As I write this, we’re still putting it together, but so far we’ve booked the far too wonderful, rising star, Luke McGregor, who’s coming down to preview his 2013 MICF show. Then, there’s Danger Academy, Hobart’s comedy impro troupe. Plus two, unique, local line-up shows, featuring the brilliant likes of Peter Escott, Mick Davies and Tracey Cosgrove. All finished off with a gala show headlined by Ronny Chieng. All that for just $20, geezus, maybe we should’ve made it $30….shit Our hopes are high, Challenge The Loop is going be a mad marathon of comedy goodness, and if people come out and enjoy what we’ve built, we’ll do it again next year and make the loop bigger and the challenge greater. Just like the oracle said, it’s the closest thing to real racing…
DO NOT SAY THIS IN JAPAN Michael Connell
I’d just arrived in Japan and was meeting my host family for the first time. After I’d introduced myself, and they’d introduced themselves, we fell into an awkward silence. It seemed my Japanese was as bad as their English, and we were struggling to find something to say. Suddenly their dog ran into the room. It was a Shiba Inu. These are small Japanese dogs that are pretty common over there but I’d never seen one before. “Oh, wow! What kind of dog is that?” I asked, leaping at the chance to make some small talk. My host mother looked confused and said “Wakarimasen” (Japanese for “I don’t understand”). It seemed they didn’t know the word “kind”. Luckily they had an English to Japanese dictionary and looked it up. Unfortunately it was a concise edition and only had one definition;; kind in the sense of kindness. “Hmmm no…” I said, “What type of dog?” Again the concise dictionary failed us, giving only type as in typing and my host family started miming keyboards.
This could be you... Just like Michael Connell, bytestories.com is looking for contributors to promote on the site. - Feature your ideas to over 85 countries - Gain free exposure - Add weight to your Google search results - Grow your social media following Bytestories.com provides funny articles to todays time poor readers. To contribute your ideas to a creative team who will work tirelessly to promote YOU and your funniness... Contact Luke Simmons on 0424 722 963 firstname.lastname@example.org
Trying again I pointed at the dog and said, “Um…breed?” They looked it up in the dictionary. Suddenly they looked shocked. “With the dog?!”
www.youtube.com/bytestoriesOfficial What is bytestories.com?
The site is accessed in over 85 other countries and it’s simply dedicated to short, entertaining stories which have a maximum of 1500 characters (250 - 300 words). The word limit is there to ensure that today’s “time poor” readers will never be deterred by the length of the story they’re considering reading. To date, contributors have included comedians, musicians, authors as well as everyday folks.
YAWP @ Variety Collective
The Film Guy presents
GREAT COMEDY BITS Rob Caruana Bill Cosby - Dentists “Dentists tell you not to pick your teeth with any sharp metal
I think most people would agree that comedy isn’t an There are hundreds of comic guidance books on Amazon.com. Literary masterpieces, such as The Serious Guide to Joke Writing: How to Say Something Funny about Anything. Or, Don't Wear Shorts on Stage: The Stand-up Guide to Comedy. Last but not least, The Comic Toolbox: How to Be Funny Even If You’re Not.
an iron hook…” It’s the perfect way to begin. It’s so simple; something you could have thought of yourself, but didn’t. Cosby is truly one of the greatest comedians alive. He takes an experience that we’ve all been through, that most of us hate, and uses it to get almost ten minutes of material. It’s a great bit, taking you on a trip to the dentist without the pain. Also, a Cosby CD is cheaper than the dentist. Unless you’re doing something very wrong.
easy steps, including: Step 1: Use things that have happened in your life that you think are funny! Don't write about Grandma getting run over by a bus! (Unless it was funny).
It's is a shame, because wikiHow is usually so helpful. I remember reading How to Be Alone, and admiring how fool-proof the listed plan was. Step 3: Refuse to tell anyone where you’re going. Personally, I don’t think you can teach stand-up comedy to somebody, because stand-up comedy is just an idea. it. Nobody can teach you how to have brilliant ideas. Sure you can teach aspects of stand-up comedy, but paying for instructional books and CDs seems fruitless. If you want to become a comic, the best thing you can do is watch other comedians. If you don’t want to be a comic, then just watch them anyway. What else are you going to do? Update your Facebook status? Tweet? Watch some quality programming on free-to-air television? Exactly. So, when deciding what to watch, here are some routines that soar above the rest.
George Carlin - Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television In 1972, the seven words were "Shit", "Piss", "Fuck", "Cunt", "Cocksucker", "Motherfucker", and "Tits". Microsoft Word seems to be familiar with all these words. I don’t need to spellcheck any of them. But, if you add a wrong letter, it won’t suggest the word. I typed “cucksucker”, and it commented no spelling suggestions… Don’t play dumb with me, Microsoft! I guess today, these words are still slightly taboo. The bit may be dated, but Carlin’s delivery and perfect choice of words is why this works so well. For a brief time, Carlin removed "Motherfucker". He added it back in, claiming the bit's rhythm does not work without it. Proving that a "Motherfucker" isn’t always such a bad thing.
The Film Guy presents
GREAT COMEDY BITS Rob Caruana
Louis CK - Everything’s Amazing and Nobody’s Happy “There’s always delays, that’s what everybody complains Too Slow. Air Travel's too slow. New York to California in six hours. They used to take thirty years to do that, and a bunch of you would die on the way there.”
Abbott and Costello - Who’s on First? “I don’t even know what I’m talking about!”
How could this not have worked? The name of the bit is hilarious on its own. Sometimes I think Louis CK’s comedy should be printed as an instruction manual for humans.
Word play was a great tool in the early days of comedy, and it was used with a level of intelligence. One of my favourites is when Groucho Marx famously said, "Time
The point of this bit is best explained by Schwarzenegger in Kindergarten Cop: “Stop whining!”
I’m always surprised when I meet a comedian who hasn’t seen this routine. Even if you’ve heard about it, that’s really not enough. It’s so much more than just a play on words. Abbott and Costello were a truly great
We should all be grateful for what we’ve got, yet everybody seems so unhappy. CK says, at one point, “I never hear anybody say, 'My phone is so awesome…” After listening to this bit, you’ll be a better person. Enough said.
is amazing. This is a perfect example of how powerful one single it. I don’t think any routine in the history of comedy has been referenced, parodied, and updated so frequently. However, I must ask, should there be a question mark at the end of the title? Or a full stop?
Woody Allen - The Moose “Twelve o’clock comes, they judge who’s got the best costume of the night. First prize goes to the Berkowitz's, a married couple dressed in a moose suit. The moose comes in second.” Comedians are constantly told to write about what they know; their life experiences, or things that are relatable to an audience. So, where exactly does a Moose at a Here, Woody Allen tells a joke with a setup and punch line. It’s not until after you’ve heard the punch line that it seems to be just another surreal story that had made Woody Allen so popular. The punch line is funny, but the story that leads to it is even funnier. You never quite know where Allen is going in his routine. It's what separates him from the rest.
Whoopi Goldberg - Bat Joke “Was it wrong or was it funny? Was it wrong because it was funny?” Whoopi Goldberg is one of the greatest female comedians alive. The joke she tells here is so simple, but you’ll
discussing the joke. Some see it as political commentary, others see it simply as a dumb joke. Most comedians would not advise you to end your show without a strong laugh, but Goldberg would rather leave the audience thinking, instead of laughing. There is no doubt that she is a very talented comedian.
GERALDINE QUINN The fiercely charismatic Geraldine Quinn has been a ubiquitous force on the Australian and UK comedy circuits since 2005. Delivering hilariously sharp-edged lyrical comedy with her truly powerhouse voice, Quinn has earned a Golden Gibbo Award and Green Room Award for her Melbourne International Comedy Festival show, You’re The Voice: Songs for the Ordinary by an Anthemaniac - among a myriad of comedy and cabaret accolades. With a CD recording of songs from You’re The Voice under her belt, the rock comedy diva chats to YAWP about her upcoming MICF show Stranger, growing up in Wagga, and her personal thoughts on Camel Toe. “I think that my background doesn't prepare other people, who have to have relationships with me, for what they're up against,” she shares.
By Carly Milroy C
" ome in! I'm just faffing about with the furniture." Stepping into her home, I found Melbourne based comedian, Geraldine Quinn, rearranging her desk to prepare for a promo video she'd be filming later that day. Moments later, as though she just realised we had never officially met, the energetic red-head strode towards me from across the black shag pile rug, brandishing a sincerely beaming smile and an outstretched hand. “Oh right, hi! Tea? ...I HAVE BISCUITS!" Having seen Quinn's Golden Gibbo Award winning show, You're The Voice: Songs For The Ordinary By An Anthemaniac, at MICF in 2011, I was unsurprised by the fiery performer's willingness to chat very openly about her experiences in the comedy industry. There is a distinct candidness to the Wagga-born comic; an honesty and warmth, which translates inimitably to her colourful musical narratives on stage.
Tea in hand, we relocate from the extravagantly coloured 1970s kitchen and sit in the living room to chat, watched over by the knowing face of David Bowie from his many postered positions around the room.
“And I mean any kind of relationship, friendship or otherwise. ‘Cause we're so used to just yelling, and then it's fine. It confuses people. They think we're all quite emotional as well."
"Not in a weird way," Quinn divulges, gesturing to the walls. "They all have a story. That one was my sister's."
Quinn acknowledges that this communication style, which she takes for granted, is often misinterpreted as being “unstable”.
She jumps up to show me a framed photo of her family, revealing herself as one of seven brothers and sisters.“They're louder than me." I exclaim in wonder at the thought of seven Quinns in the same room, suggesting it must be a big party when the family gets together? "Not really. It's just a lot of personalities, and very strong ones. Everyone's sure they're right. So it's quite combative.” Growing up with six equally vocal siblings has had a lasting influence on my host’s experiences of socially interacting with people outside the family.
"To us, it's normal. It's really difficult for other people to get it. And so I've never really felt comfortable with social situations, ever. I just don't know when I've done something wrong. To the point where I just think, I have a block. A blind spot… I never want to see that look on someone's face again. 'Do you know what you just did? Or said?” This concept of defining and assessing how people either contribute to, or contest, typical social behaviour is clearly at the forefront of the self-reflective comic’s mind. Forming the crux of her new show, Stranger, Quinn poses the question: “Does everybody feel like they can’t do something right, sometimes?”
“When you’re in a comedy festival... lots of people go, ‘I don’t understand. There’s not as many jokes as I thought it was going to have?” She considers her own experiences of writing comedy, flicking her fingernails against the arm of her chair occasionally; as though she is trying to physically expel her thoughts. "I think of myself as a writer a lot, as well." Referring to her heavily stocked bookshelves, she elaborates, "I've got a bookish background, as you can see. You need to be alone a lot to write, and then you lose track of your bearings of how to interact sometimes." The avid writer explains that the environment many comic writers work in can be incredibly isolating. Rather than influencing their creative output, this will often have more impact on their personal, or perhaps more appropriately, interpersonal lives. Her description paints a picture of comic writers mentally existing in their own little worlds. "Little pods. People are just strange. And we all think we're right. Or we all think we're wrong. We never quite get the balance right. It never fits together. There's this constant push and pull." Quinn agrees that many comedians can attest to experiencing a degree of mental and physical isolation in the shaping of their work. This is interesting, considering how effectively the award winning performer communicates her ideas and social experiences to so many audiences, in a vastly relatable way. It can be assumed that before even taking their seats, an audience’s prior perceptions of what constitutes a Geraldine Quinn show, will impact greatly upon how they experience the performance.
Given her expansive career, stretching over numerous genres like the skin of one multi-talented drum, Quinn seems to be very aware of this factor. Self-referred to as a rock comedy diva, the comedian's professional repertoire balances between Rock Anthem Belter, Pop Songwriter, and of course Lyrical Comedian. So do audiences really need to know what they're coming to see before they attend a Geraldine Quinn festival show? "That's actually really interesting, because I'm actually trying to work on something a bit different. Um, where I sort of want audiences to not be sure what they're going to see.” “I'm interested in trying - one can only try - to look at people coming into a space and have them being intrigued, but being not quite sure? I think an audience going, 'We don't understand why you're trying to make us laugh when you can sing,' is not an illegitimate concern...”
So where is that line between comedy and performance art drawn? Do audiences attending a comedy festival show expect to reach a kind of laugh-quota every time? Quinn is quick to share her thoughts on the matter, as a performer whose shows confine themselves very little to any one comedic format. "SOME audiences do. Others go, 'That was great, I love that it had a bit of depth and light and shade.' And that's fine, it's whatever you like. I don't think it's unfair to say a lot of audiences who are going [to festival shows] are responding to who's on the television.” Agreeing that television is a brilliant forum for talent, she confirms with enthusiasm that on posters she’ll be referencing her appearance on the ABC music quiz show, Spicks and Specks, until the day she dies. “However,you see this beautifully innovative stuff going on in music and comedy, and spoken word, and art, and they're not really moving. Or they try to reach the same audiences by coming into a festival." Parodying a shrill Aussie voice, Quinn straightens up in her seat, tilts her head and snaps into character: "I don't get iiit? There weren't jokes about tits and stuff. I don't understand. What is this, thi-iing?"
She elaborates that a considerable reason behind her entering the comedy industry, was to reach a wider audience than the music or cabaret spheres seem to allow for. The interchangeable nature of her comic genre brings up all kinds of questions when audiences begin to realise hers will be a bit of a different show! ”When you're in a comedy festival, I think lots of people go, 'I don't understand. There's not as many jokes as I thought it was going to have?" It's a common concern for many comic performers seeking to structure their comedy outside of the traditional stand-up form.
She laughs away her caricature, relaxing back into her chair. “Or, 'Oh no I don't do women's comedy.' Or, 'No, I hate musical comedy.' Well, have you seen them all? No, you haven't. I mean these are all fucken’ OLD complaints. But everybody knows they happen. They're out there."
However, the analytical performer can’t be accused of overlooking the abundance of ”inventive and interested” audience members attending comedy festivals. She states very clearly that she doesn’t perceive all audiences as passive. “You just have to bare in mind, I think, some of those things when you're on stage. Because it's kind of silly not to.” “I need to understand what people think they're gonna get from me,” she continues, “if I'm gonna subvert it. Am I going to abandon anything they did like me for, before? That's just my opinion. There's a responsibility to the people you've built up. But you shouldn't also be a slave to it."
So how does Quinn perceive her own stage persona? “I'm now at this point where I kind of get it! I kind of get this ridiculous, incredibly clumsy, very overdressed and, um, very strong presence that I've ended up becoming on stage. And not trying to be anything else.” Hers is definitely a strong presence - one which audiences are devouring. The Age online reviewed You're The Voice (2011), as a “brilliant blend of sass, satire and pathos, delivered with an electrifying voice that can strip paint off the walls or retreat into haunting vulnerability."
“After Shut Up And Sing, Casey Bennetto (director and colleague) said to me, 'That's the first show I've seen you do for the audience.' And I went, I didn't mean to!” "He said, 'Yeah, but you did. You were thinking about how they were going to react to what you are doing, rather than how they were going to react to who you are on a stage.”
“I think the minute I went, 'I don't know what YOU want from ME anymore, and I can't guess', it worked. Weirdly. I don't know why." Tapping her nails again, as she frowns in contemplation, she seems to come to a conclusion regarding this turning point in her career. "I was probably so worried about how I was coming across before. And that's what life's like."
”I spent the end of last year or so talking to more people just going, 'Oh, it isn't just me. Oh that's something everybody feels.’ How arrogant of me to think it was just me!”
The charismatic songstress upholds a mindful approach to really guiding audiences through what she considers to be the heart of her shows.
In discussing the battle between writing shows for herself, or for her audiences, she reflects upon the development of her stage personality. How has her vibrant performance persona been shaped?
The result was an “energy manifesto”, leaving some audience members almost frightened by the storm of sound she was able to produce.
Quinn describes the idea that people are sometimes unable to fit within the world. It is a notion she feels closely familiar with. “I thought I was so SPECIAL. Because, I felt 'Other', or didn't fit.”
“I thought I was so special, because I felt ‘Other’, or didn’t fit.”
Quinn's ruminative analysis of her own performances seems to contribute in no small part to her success on stage.
“I just went, RIGHT. Rip this off, rip this off, rip this off! Just take the piss out of all these different things.”
There were, of course, some curve balls along the way. "I did a reeeally ambitious show in 2009, where there were always moments that were good all the way through, but the shows never really worked until 2010. And that was the year I just went 'Fuck it'. Fuck it!” “I had a review that basically said 'Don't talk. Your songs are good, but don't talk.' And, I went 'OK! Fine! I am going to write a show that has as many songs as I can possibly fit in it, and it's only going to be about writing songs.” Considering herself predominantly as a songwriter, Quinn’s decision to abandon much of the text in her shows, in order to harness her genuine love of pop music, has been transformational.
Sipping the last of her tea, Quinn discloses that she is certain many performers spend much of their time thinking, “I don't know how this is ever going to work.”
“Camel Toe was... a pre-emptive strike, ‘cause I knew what I was wearing on stage!” Discussing her inspirations in writing, it becomes apparent that the comedian absorbs a great deal of what her colleagues in the comedy community are creating. She smiles warmly as she reveals her thoughts on the industry, and its participants.
"I just keep saying [to my colleagues], 'I think you'll bring something - I want a piece of you to enrich this thing I've made.’ And that would show me something I wouldn't normally see? I'm not Prince. I can't do it all in my bedroom and it'll be brilliant. …I share his birthday as well. Tom Jones, Prince, Dean Martin. And Jesus. No." She adjusts her blue scarf, chuckling as she dismisses the Biblical name dropping. "I'm sort of interested in how people are really pushing good boundaries in comedy festival shows. We're seeing a heightened theatricality, and world. And that's becoming quite normal. I think maybe there'll also be a new wave of just straight stand-ups. And that can be brilliant as well. Absolutely." Although, with the size of the Australian population in mind, together with the already slim funding margins available to help sustain performance art and comedy industries, a division between marketable stand-up comedy and abstract theatrical comedy begs the question: Can they exist together? Is there enough of an audience in Australia to support both? "Yeah! Yes. Audiences are great. We can't get angry with them if they don't know what's out there to see... If somebody's got it in their head that they are not going to see musical comedy, just 'cause it's musical comedy, they just need one person to show them that they're wrong… That's when fringe festivals are exciting. It can be ANYTHING." ‘Anything‘ is right! As an ode to spandex, Quinn’s ballsy song, Camel Toe, has garnered some well deserved attention with its many euphemisms for the word Vagina.
Above: A still from Quinn’s ‘Camel Toe’ film clip (2012).
In September 2012, the Lycra-clad comic released a film clip for her pop song onto YouTube. Within seconds of mentioning the project, Quinn is clapping her hands together and jumping in her seat. In her booming cabaret voice, Quinn then takes a moment to sing out a quick "VA-GI-NA!" Given the content of the song, I inquire if the lyrics were an attempt at being confronting or jolting? “No. I was just trying to find as many words for vagina as I possibly could. Camel Toe was, I like to say, a pre-emptive strike, 'cause I knew what I was wearing on stage!” Quinn comments on the public hype surrounding the female-specific term ‘camel toe’. “Why can't I get on stage and do that sort of song?"
“People are really pushing good boundaries in comedy festival shows. We’re seeing a heightened theatricality, and world.” She notes that “the double standard is extraordinary”, by listing a few hilariously specific examples of historically visible penis outlines, sported by 1970s white-trouser-wearing rock stars. These included Bon Scott and Mick Ronson, for those of you playing at home.
"There's a little bit of love in all those songs that just seem to be taking the piss out of something. No, I love pop music. No, I love bogans." Her reflections and philosophies penetrate so many aspects of comedy creation, that fusing these with her personal experiences from life, in order to come up with an engaging show, sounds like a considerable task to undertake. In fact, it's difficult to pinpoint exactly where any comic’s ‘truthful’ self-awareness will collide with their creative self-expression. Being honest with themselves as an individual, and being diligent to the comedy they release for strangers to absorb, can often counteract one another in a struggle to compete for stage time. As a highly unique comedian, however, Quinn certainly appears to have accessed that bridge between the two. "I don't think I know everything. I definitely don't think I know everything about comedy,” she comments. “But I know quite a lot of things about different areas. And I love to know more… You just wanna get better, and you want to learn more. And find out new things. And work out what's the next thing for you to do. That's all I've ever really cared about. Ever."
For more info on what Geraldine Quinn is up to in 2013,
“I just thought, why are people so obsessed with this THING!? There are websites devoted to it. Women are running around in the pop industry, just wearing leotards all the time, and then you get, 'Oh my God, you can see camel toe!"
check out her website: www.geraldinequinn.com
However, putting forward these "piss-take" songs effectively comes from a place of love for the subjects of her comedy, she says.
To watch ‘Camel Toe’ and other YouTube delights, click around her channel:
The Polemic An Interview with Steve Hughes
INTERVIEWER: Beau Fitzpatrick
I went to see your show last year. It was a blast. I noticed that your audiences have really grown here in the last couple of years. Well I assume its the same old thing when you come from a country like Canada or Australia or even Africa that if people overseas start liking you then your country starts to like you. It's almost like the UK has given Australia permission to like me. That's interesting how that works, isn't it. Well, ACDC did it. They sold 8 million albums in Europe before anyone in Australia even heard of them. AC who? hahaha So I think it's that kind of thing. I could talk about this stuff for ages I think because I'm quite interested in that kind of thing. I wonder about the underground Metal scene and the comedy scene in general. A guy I know is making a documentary about underground heavy metal scene, which I was a big part of, and I thought, "That's a good idea. Why don't we see more of that?" And it's because we don't do anything. Australia doesn't document anything unless its sport and the mainstream. Which is a shame, because, we're quite advanced in our bands and yet no one hears about them and no one notices them because we fucking live down there. There are amazing bands and comics and creative people in this country but the infrastructure is not set up to give them a go because it's more interested in other things. It's a very conservative country. So it really doesn't give people who do art any sort of credence, so they have to go out of that country, and get respect elsewhere before coming back, which no one admits to consciously. So when the rest of the world goes, "This guy is good" we're like, 'Oh? is he? Oh alright then". (laughs) So it's almost like an anxiety by Australian's to accept their own? You know, I think so. There's no infrastructure for fame there;; psychologically. It's very, "Well who do you fucking think you are, mate?!" kind of mindset. So if you look at my early heavy metal career, we've got no photos or videos. No documented footage of 20 years of my life to which I played thousands of shows. And there we're normal Australians looking at the scene probably thinking, 'why would we take notice of it?' And that was my entire life! (laughs) It's like I just turned around and threw it all in the fucking bin. Because, like I said, you have to have the infrastructure in place for people to be exposed to this sort of stuff.
Was that one of the reasons why you moved to the UK in the first place? Yes. I mean, I always wanted to move from Australia. I never was fully accepted there by the culture. My parents were very british. I start to get really spiritual, thinking 'why was I even born there? There must be some reason. I don't suit the place. I don't like the machoism and the sport, all the outdoorness and you've gotta wear shorts everywhere. Like people think you're a poofter if you're reading a book. And this is all in the 70's and the 80's mind you. There was no internet, there was only 16 million of us (laughs) in a country that's five times the size of fucking Europe. It was empty. So I always wanted to leave. I couldn't do what I wanted to do in that place. I mean of course, back then, Australia was very "Just be normal mate! Why can't you be normal like everyone else? What are you wearing that for? Just be nooooormal." And I always thought, "Aw God I don't want to be normal. I want to be me. Everything I was into was not normal. I liked Motley Crew." But it was funny because I toured abroad for years and then after a while I came back again to see what had changed and nothing had fucking changed. Nothing happens! What do you mean by nothing happens? You know, they don't play you on the radio or promotion wise too. Like if I come home for comedy, there's nothing for me to do. "Is there a TV show I can go on to promote myself?" "Nup"... "Do you want me to go on the TV?" "Nup" "Why not?! Me and Jim Jefferies, he's one of the most successful stand up comedian imports and when we get back to Australia and when we get there, there is nothing to do. And I think, "WHY?… have we got nothing to do? (laughs) But you go to England, and they make a new comedian famous every week;; saying that he's on a show and he's done this. And to be fair, there is 80 million people and geographically the country is tiny. So there are reasons that are not all negative, of course. Sometimes there are just logistical reasons for things being the way they are that you can't get away from. You're living in a massive country that's really into sport. (laughs) So I understand, but it does become very frustrating for a lot of artists in Australia because they do their thing for years and years and years and they just don't even get a fucking thank you. Like an example from music, the Hard ons. They've been at it for 20 years, they've made album after album… and they're all driving taxis. No one has ever said "thank you…. thanks for establishing a brand of music that's something to listen to that's different".
Yea it's surprising. Because we had Rove doing his thing for years. When he finished up the show and moved onto bigger and better things abroad, a lot of us thought it was him tipping his hat to the younger generation to give them a go at doing what he did. Because for a lot of emerging standup talent, it was their one outlet for exposure. They'd get on and do a five minute set to Australia and it was a boom for their careers. And when he left, we all waited for his replacement….and it never came. (laughs) Yep. Crazy. You know Carl Baron? I started doing open spots when he was doing open spots. Well Carl has become the biggest comic in Australia. He's a great comedian. He's a master. So subtle. He can make you laugh by saying the word 'biscuit'. But he's been the biggest and most well known comedian for fucking 12 years. I mean…. have another one! You know you can have more than one. You know what I mean? I left Australia and people were telling me about Carl Baron, Carl Baron, Carl Baron, Carl Baron. I leave the country for 12 years, come back and you're all like, "Carl Baron, Carl Baron, Carl Baron" and of course he is because he's the only one you fucking know! This is for a lot of reasons. It's a conservative country and it's really managed by money. It's afraid to be offensive. And that is alright and all good, but it still means you're not free. That's just an excuse for apathy as far as Im concerned. And it's getting worse. They won't let a man go to a ute to get his ladder without filling out a form and doing a course in occupational health and safety. Freedom? That's restricted…. weirdness. It's the same with speech. Speech is under threat because there are people out there who consider being offended a form of harassment. So I will tolerate you as long as you don't offend me or say anything that causes me to feel upset…. Because I'l sue you. (laughs) It's theatre of the absurd. (laughs) Well, the good thing about being a mental case and a bit of an outcast, is that you can do what you want and not give a fuck about the consequences. But if you're more mainstream then your main concern centres around who or how many people like me and that's the worst mistake you can make. You know what I mean? Audiences will suss you out. They know when you're being a bit of a fake. You, in effect, alienate your audience by not being yourself. If that means being rude to be yourself then so be it. Don't accommodate them. Because they're not children, and you don't know what theyre thinking.
So it becomes arrogant that you think you should accommodate an audience. So take a fucking chance. And if they are offended then fucking deal with it. (laughs) It's not your fault. It's their choice to be offended. So how about you? Do you have any anxiety about how you're going to be received? Because you call yourself a bit of an outcast. You can't worry about that. If you're going out on stage with the deliberate intention to be provocative in a situation where you're going to ruffle a few feathers then fair enough. That's not comedy. Anyone can be provocative. But I would never do comedy for just that reason. My aim isn't to just create anarchy. But you've got to do what you fucking want otherwise what is the point? It's just X factor. You become one of these perfect concepts thats the least offensive to the biggest audience. But you may find that's not what you want. Rhod Gilbert is massive in the UK. He's fucking huge. I was talking to him the other day and he said to me, "My audiences are getting worse" I said, "That's because you're getting fucking massive. They're bringing their kids to the show now". Because when you're on TV as much as a toilet paper ad, you become a household name and your audiences will become shit because now families are coming. There are some very boring and uncreative people in the world. Most of them come under the category, "the mainstream". And when they turn up, it's not that you're offending them by being offensive or provoca- tive, they just don't get the jokes! (laughs) And he was like, "It's getting really bad. They're actually not even getting it now". These audiences are typically the type that won't say anything or do anything or believe anything that they are not first told. So I would never pander, and it is arrogant to pander because you have no idea what the audience think or believe. I mean, to think that you could tailor your act to the majority of the audience is just offensive to them. You've just got to take the risk. It's as simple as that. Tell us a bit about the show you're bringing out. It's called "Big Issues" and it's going where? Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne? Tell us about it. Yep. New show. I can send you the dates. But the thing about the new show is there have been so many new things that I want to talk about which will be add ons to some of the old things that I've been talking about. The new stuff is scattered in notebooks all around the
joint and it hasn't fucking converged into this thing. And then I have to go through a process where I have to remember it and I hate doing the same material forever but so much of my thoughts are a continuous stream from other things that I've previously mentioned.
Well yea true. I mean comedy was the place that you went to laugh. Then there was a point where comics had something to say within their material. It now seems to me where its one of the only places where people are willing to listen to a message.
Sometimes I get audience members coming up to me after the show going, "Great show mate but Ive heard some of those jokes before" I say, "You've heard them before! I've gotta talk about this depressing shit every day of my life!" And that's the problem really is people think they run into my material more than once because I don't write jokes but I write on themes and stories blend into one another.
Yes! That and box sets!
Ill extend the joke of mine into something which goes into a different direction. And before I know it, I've written another five minutes, but for you to understand it, I need to talk about the first bit which people may or may not have run into before.
STEVE HUGHES BIG ISSUES
And do you think your comedy would be less satisfying if it didn't have that tie in to meaningful themes? Yea. Completely. I know exactly what you're gonna say. I mean, when I was in death metal bands or thrash metal bands when I was 18, 19. And by the time it started to get big in the late 80's and early 90's I started to get out of it because you can only sing about metal and chicks and Satan for the rest of my life. And by that time, of course, I was interested in other bands and thought more about what people wrote more than anything else. And so I loved listening to stuff which had a more introspective person as their front man;; something which dealed with social commentary. It was attractive because it was meaningful. It was deep. Personal. Which I do like that, I like it in comedy too. I mean, I like a guy who just does funny jokes. I do. If they're funny. Sure. But there is room for everything in that. I mean sometimes, the joy of comedy is to just make people escape from all of their troubles. You know? You wouldn't want every fucking comedian pounding negativity down the throats of all the audiences all the time. (laughs) But I do find the country ripe for the picking to do political humour if that's something that comics want to do, it's there. It's a minefield. But, you see, it's easy to do it after having gone to a country that lets you talk about these things so that I can come back and talk about it with full confidence. But I really don't give a fuck what the audiences think. If you don't think it's your thing then it's not your thing, you know?
(laughs) Amen. Pleasure talking with you Steve. Good luck on the tour. Yea no worries at all. Chase me up in Melbourne, we’ll have a beer! *falls over*
ADELAIDE FRINGE The Arts Theatre Thursday 21st - Sunday 24th February Tickets $30 thur/sun $35 Fri/sat Time: 8:30PM Bookings: www.adelaidefringe.com.au BRISBANE COMEDY Festival Visy Theatre, Brisbane Power- house Tuesday 5th -Sunday 10th March Tickets $25 Tues $30 Wed/thur/sun $35 Fri/sat Time: 8:45pm Bookings: www.briscomfest.com MELBOURNE Forum theatre Thurs 18th - Sat 20th April 8:30pm Comedyfestival.com.au SYDNEY Enmore theatre Sat 1st June 8:30pm enmoretheatre.com.au TICKETS ON SALE NOW!
RAW TALENT: Tales from behind the stand at RAW Comedy open mic competition By Emily French If there’s one lesson I can impart
about moving abroad, it’s this: You’d be surprised by the things you miss. While it’s expected that you’d yearn for the company of family and friends, it’s the things that you never realised were important that can really bring your homesickness to the fore. British comedy was such a thing for me. Despite my love for comedy, I never seriously considered attempting it myself. I have a considerable fear of public speaking, and stand-up comedy is about the most extreme version of this activity that I can think of. The first stirrings of the idea began two years ago, when I ended up giving a spontaneous speech at a friend’s 21st birthday. I went for it, emboldened by the room’s general tipsiness, and my friend yelling, “Emily, get up here and say something!" Turning the speech into a performance and making people laugh felt natural, and the response I got was brilliant. I have had very few moments in life where I felt genuinely cool, but that was definitely one of them.
When my name was eventually called I had gone slightly numb. I got up on stage, tried not to fumble the microphone, and was briefly blinded by the lights. Bizarrely, that helped me overcome my fear a little, as my sense of performing to a full room was somewhat dulled. Last year, a close friend of mine began his trails on the amateur comedy circuit, so I tentatively voiced my desire to give it a go too. He was extremely encouraging when I pledged to overcome my public speaking terror to join him, eventually finding myself with no more excuses. I’d recently heard of RAW, so I decided to sign up. Perhaps subconsciously hoping I wouldn’t hear back. But then I was assigned a heat. In the two weeks before my spot, I put together several versions of material before being settling on one. I rehearsed using my hairbrush as a microphone, never getting the material completely right. I always messed up a line, or blanked on a bit. The morning of my heat, I sat on my sofa in my dressing gown and genuinely contemplated not going. I’d never tried out any of this material on an actual audience. Hell, I’d never even performed in front of people before. What was I thinking? Somehow, I eventually got myself in the shower, into clothes, and on a tram. When I arrived at the venue, I immediately tried to start chatting to others to calm my nerves. I will be eternally grateful to them for putting me at ease. The show began. Everyone seemed to be doing a decent job getting laughs, when I began to question my jokes. Was what I had written actually funny?
I’ve heard other comics say that the sound of the first laugh from the audience helps to ease your fears. While the sound of laughter was certainly great to hear, it was tempered by not really being able to tell how loud it was. Were they good belly laughs, or just polite titters? I didn’t really know, but I had no time to consider it. I ploughed on. When I finally thanked the audience and stepped off the stage, praying not to end on a slapstick note as the stairs were quite difficult to see, I felt pretty incredible. I knew it had gone as well as I could have reasonably hoped for. During the break, I was overwhelmed by people’s kindness in telling me they’d enjoyed my spot. From my first experience of it, the amateur comedy environment seems incredibly generous and warm; everyone is given a fair go, and their efforts are recognised and appreciated. When the round finished, my stomach tied itself into knots waiting for the return of the judges. I crossed everything. After they’d called five comics’ names, I accepted that it wasn’t going to be my day. When mine was the sixth, I punched the air and hugged the person next to me. Despite not knowing who he was. Right now, I feel terrifically high on life and eager to compete in the next heat. When it actually comes around, I’ll probably regress to my pre-performance nervously shaking self. Did I enjoy performing comedy? Hell yes. Did it help cure my fear of public speaking? Thus far I’m going to have to say: Hell no.
The Pros and Cons of Self-Deprecating Comedy By Dane Hiser Try a little experiment for me. Wake up after a big night of drinking. After 2 hours of broken, restless sleep, hit your head on your bedside drawers, then have 5 shots of tequila, close your eyes, spin around on the spot for three minutes, put an annoyingly itchy bug in your hair, and then proceed to go about your day. You’ll be disoriented, uneasy, uncoordinated, moving at a slower pace, and not thinking straight. Welcome to my world. Welcome to what it’s like being me. It’s like a continual hangover, from a party that never happened. Entering this state of being, you’ll start to get some idea of what its like to be a man who one night discovered he was wearing two belts, and who after a boxercise class was mistaken for having a carer. So the question is: What do you get when you mine the experiences of the most awkward and uncoordinated human being ever to stumble from the womb… with a lisp? Comedy gold, that’s what! So, converting my mishaps and daily pain into self-deprecating comedy seemed like an obvious choice. They say the best comedy comes from tragedy. They also say, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade." But I don’t like lemonade. Who exactly is 'they’ anyway? Not exactly a water-tight academic reference for Anyway, I’m getting distracted.
Self-deprecating comedy has been around for years. Really, self-deprecation is at the heart of most comedy stylings. Regardless of whether or not a comedian is known as a self-deprecator, the very act of getting on stage and revealing yourself - your thoughts, your observations, your personality - is putting yourself under
Also, the very elusive and irritatingly vague ‘they’ say, “Hear no evil, see no evil.” In other words: If you can’t see it, then it doesn’t exist. So to mock your
under the spotlight, for yourself or your audience to tear apart.
The primary danger, however, with self-deprecating comedy, is that it can sometimes be limiting. If you build a reputation for mocking yourself, it can
The very enigmatic ‘they’ (another watertight reference), also say that performing comedy is like therapy. Mostly group therapy; a way for an often fragile individual to reveal themselves to a group, trying to make sense of their thoughts and experiences out-loud, in the hope that it gets a laugh. Or, at the very least, resolves a question for them. So that’s the positive side of your exposing yourself, in a legal sense, and making mockery of your foibles. It turns negative character traits into positive energy, or laughter. It addresses the elephant in the room - a noticeable characteristic that often needs to be called out and addressed, in order for people to laugh at it.
or a microphone - and announce it to the secret that complete strangers didn’t know before, they certainly do now!
you have an opinion on external premises, such as politics, popular culture, or the world outside yourself in general. Plus, if you are going to only talk about yourself, the continual self-indulgence may alienate some audiences. Eventually, you may even run out of stories about yourself. Not me I’m still working it all out myself. I guess the trick is to get your audience to like you and respect you for exposing yourself - again, in the legal sense - and as a result feel close to you. Hopefully the audience will be willing to take the journey with you, in whichever direction you choose to go.
Also, as I said, it’s therapy; a way of your place in the world. Most importantly, getting on stage and escaping the daily awkwardness of being yourself is a chance to get laughs, to be accepted, and to feel as close to "normal" as you can whatever that may be for each individual. and foremost, it’s scary as hell. To get on a stage and tell strangers about insecurities - the kind of characteristics you once hated about yourself and were even uncomfortable discussing with family and friends - seems unnatural. Much like a confronting, although voluntary, invasion of privacy.
Check out more from Dane Hiser: Comedian, writer, promoter, marketer. www.danehiser.wordpress.com Follow @DaneHiser on Twitter facebook.com/danehisercomedy
WHY DO WE JOKE ABOUT... TASMANIAN INCEST? By Peter Green Everyone knows that Tasmania is the go-to place when making references to inbreeding.
Even an Australian Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam, has gotten into the act, according to Mungo on the Zoo Plane - the funniest ever book written about general elections from 1972-1977. On a flight to Launceston, it is said that Whitlam went back to regale the attending throng of journos with promises that on arrival, they'd be up for a bit of double headed fellatio.
The social security official took a look around, suggesting to the family that it might be prudent to make the male children and the female children sleep in separate buildings. This advice was taken on board; the next time the social security visited they were proudly shown the family's new sleeping arrangements. Still all in the same room, but with the boys on one side and the girls on another. A strand of barbed wire was installed down the centre of the space. In some versions, the barbed wire is replaced with a black curtain. It is from here that the jokes originated. The reality is slightly less romantic if, in your heart of hearts, you really want to believe the hills of Tassie are full of batshit-mad hillbillies, wanting to have intimate relations with intimate relations.
So, where did this all start? Straight away I'm going to state that if you visit Tasmania you won't find it full of drooling mutants, playing doctor with their close kinfolk. I'm going to hit that notion on the head right now. On both heads.
For one thing, there is no such thing as a "Black Bob". Black Bob is the name of a locality on the Ouse to Queenstown road, named after a long forgotten fellow named Bob who had black hair.
The stories stem from the 1920s and 1930s, and involve a group of people called the "Black Bobs". The legend goes like this:
There was a family of timber cutters in the area, who lived a long way from town and didn't see much of the rest of society - just like thousands of other families all over Australia at that point in history.
Up in the heavily wooded hills of the south west corner of the state, past the village of Ouse, there lived an extended family of timber cutters who, over a couple of generations, became more and more isolated from the rest of society. When the social security services came to visit, they found the families living in sheds, and heaps of kids with disabilities. One of the kids was tied up to the verandah with a chain. According to different reports this kid had either an armless or legless torso, or simply just a torso and head, or possessed all his limbs but was down on all fours barking like a dog, or was a Downs Syndrome afflicted individual. OR, best of all, a head on legs, with no body in between.
One credible source is a newspaper report from the time, that follows up rumours of a disabled child being chained to a cart wheel in the back shed of a house. When the police visited, they found that there was one profoundly physically and mentally disabled member of the family, who was well looked after and dressed up against the winter in a warm woolly coat. He slept in the house in his own bed just like any other member of the family.
This family member was unable to walk, but to help out he liked to tie some wire around his waist, crawl out into the forest and gather fire wood, which he tied into a bundle with the wire and dragged backed to the house behind him. Sometimes, for his own protection, he was locked inside the house for short periods of time when the rest of the family went out. There were three younger children in the family who were deaf and dumb, but otherwise not further challenged either mentally or physically. Records suggest that maybe one or two marriages in the family took place between first cousins, but no more than you would find than in your average European royal family. Also, at around this time there was less iodine being used as a food additive, leading to a lot of goitres being found in the population at large. This meant many people, especially those on a restricted diet, had scars on the side of their necks where the goitre had been removed; hence the suggestion that an extra head may have been taken off at some point in the past. As for that other cliche about Tasmania that we all like to joke about, I've taken a good look at a map of Tasmania in my atlas. I can confirm: It does look like a fanny.
NEXT MONTH: DO NEW ZEALANDERS REALLY SHAG SHEEP?
Writer/Comedian Peter Green's latest book "Bad Hobbits" is available through this website: http://www.lulu.com/shop/peter-green/bad-hobbits/paperback
SWIMMING IN THE DEEP END
By Matty B I
‘ve been performing stand up comedy for just over two years now, and the one thing that really stands out for me about this industry is the challenge you have in finding a good role model or mentor. There are a lot of things to learn about handling yourself on and off the staged. Unlike other pursuits, the hierarchy in comedy can be vague; the unwritten rules hard to comprehend and the word of the people around you hard to trust.
But how do you really know what is a good level of progression or improvement? How do you identify the areas in which you need to improve? For the love of God, show me a yard stick! What really is quite infuriating, is that while I say I'm objectively satisfied, there is a very real possibility that I am a fool who is blinding himself to the truths of the industry? Undoubtedly I have made mistakes. I have said the wrong the thing to the wrong person, I have said the wrong thing to the right person, and I have put my trust in people who didn’t deserve it.
It’s a ponderous conundrum that we all face in the early stages of negotiating the comedic landscape. Having recognised the dilemma, what can be done about it? The only conclusion that I can come to is that I, and all the rest of us new, keen, and clueless comedians, have to place just a little bit of trust in ourselves. The bottom line is that no one is going to tell you precisely how good you are, or how well you represent yourself. Ultimately I write and perform stand up because I love it. I’m going to be myself and unapologetic about that. It can be frustrating operating within a system where there is no end game and the goal posts seem to occasionally move. In the end I’m responsible for myself, and will trust my own judgement.
There have been times where I have either grossly overvalued or undervalued what I can offer as a comedian. I don’t know that I would honestly be surprised if someone took me aside and said, "Sorry mate, everyone thinks you're a wanker... And you’re not funny."
There are endless different paths to tread, until it seems that everyone who you look up to has a different story to tell about how they got there, with hugely varying advice on how to achieve success. So here’s the question that I have: Who do I, as relative grommet to the Now, to be realistic, I think I have comedy world, ask for a fair evaluation achieved a reasonable amount in a of where I’m at? Who does anyone ask? short amount of time. But it’s really very hard to know exactly how you Now, I can think of a lot of suggestions are progressing as a comedian. to that question; venue co-ordinators, I’ve worked my way slowly up a few rungs on the ladder in the club scene, and performed a couple of seasons of a solo show that was well attended and well reviewed. When I objectively look at what I have created and the network I have grown, I think that I am making solid headway towards my goals as a comedian.
professional comedians, and peers are all viable options. However, going down that road may well lead you to a state of even greater confusion.
For me personally, if I were to ask around I would think there would be a spectrum of response ranging from "Unfunny wanker", all the way to, "Hilarious champion. Here are the keys to my house."
Chat, ponder, and appreciate comfy chairs with Matty B. Twitter: @MattyBComic facebook.com/matty.bcomic
DEAL BREAKER BY XAVIER TOBY "If he was ever an Emo, that’s a deal breaker."
There are real deal breakers. Cheating on someone, along with other actions and words so horrible that "If she's ever had any Vajazzling, they’re inexcusable. These limits are that’s a deal breaker." different for everyone; when negotiating such heavy emotional "Bad fake tan: Massive deal breaker." territory, I think "deal breaker" sounds too flippant. "Putting a jumper on a dog: Huge deal breaker." "When I found out those trips weren’t for business, and that he’s got a You know the biggest deal breaker second wife and family. Well, totes a for me? Anyone who uses the deal breaker. OMG FML." phrase ‘deal breaker’. Or, to imply that any relationship could sudden- If you meet someone who is perfect, ly be ended by one particular apart from one superficial aspect, behaviour or action. and you’re prepared to rule them out as a prospective partner based on It makes dating feel like a transacthat, well I think that says a lot more tion. Instead of two people hanging about you than it does about them. out and having fun, it’s like you’re buying a second hand car. You’ve It also implies that you’re spoilt for kicked the tyres, taken it for a test choice. So you’re probably very drive, and all seems fine. Until you popular, and are too busy looking in notice a Southern Cross sticker on a mirror, commenting on your the bumper bar, or fluffy dice on the photos, and replying to endless rear vision mirror. Then the deal’s Facebook friend requests to be off. reading this. Forget that a sticker and fluffy dice can be easily removed. That they’re probably something to do with what the car was, not what the car is now. That the car has changed, and is now ashamed of those things. Apart from a few surface imperfections, it really is a smooth running car with a solid service history, and no major mechanical flaws.
Incidentally, for me, all three of those things are deal breakers if they prove to be indicators of a largely vacuous nature, and a complete obsession with self. If not, and we can work around those menial differences, then things will likely be fine.
We’ve all got things in our past that we’re not proud of. Things that, if they came to light, are all likely deal breakers. Being photographed sleeping on a nature strip next to a pile of vomit. Standing too close to a fire and losing your eyebrows. Happy pants. Sporting memorabilia. Porn in the internet history. A Dan Brown novel. Souvenir shot glasses. Embarrassing hairstyles. Owning a Hanson album. Remember them? They’re still going.
Anyway, what happened to giving people a chance? For the most part, people probably do. Perhaps "deal breaker" is only an ironic throwaway joke. If you’re not joking, and are seriously using it to review dates and relationships, then stop it. You sound like a judgmental fool.
The fact that I know that, is that also a deal breaker?
That said, I am 34 and single, so what the hell do I know?
'Xavier Toby - White Trash' Fringe World Perth Feb 7-13, Adelaide Fringe Feb 15- Mar 1, and the MICF March 27 - April 9.
GOOD GOD ALMIGHTY! PART 1: Brendon Burns
What looks like an odd mix to begin with turns out to be a partnership that was meant to be. Award winnning Comedian, Brendon Burns and a Hall of Fame wrestler, Mick Foley sit down with YAWP to tell us how they are virtually the same thing... Beau: How did you and Mick actually meet? Brendon: It was actually through a mutual fan. I was signing this guys book and he mentioned he was going to see Mick Foley. So I said to him, ”Give him a copy of my book will ya?” And when I was asked to do a guest spot with Mick one night, we hit it off back stage. That gig was the first time I’d actually tried out wrestling material for stand up and it felt like shooting fish in a barrel. Anyone that knows Mick Foley would not at all be surprised that he is now doing stand up. And number two, no one is surprised that we’re friends. (laughs) I was watching some of your previous shows on YouTube, “So I suppose this is offensive now.” Did I get that right?
Beau Fitzpatrick Or as it was listed in Russia, “Finally I have insulted you” (laughs) Yea because I watched the clip where that lady in the audience had heckled you for saying comments which she was offended by and called you a racist during your performance, to which she soon after left. But because the clip only went for two minutes, I didn’t realise that at the end of the show, she comes out on stage and takes a bow;; so she was planted in the audience! But it took another year or so before I found that out from a friend! Yea! Well everything is in there for a reason so it’s best to watch the thing in it’s entirety. But one of the frustrating things about the filming of that night, they didn’t show the reaction of the audience. And we had mirrors on stage and everything but we changed the lighting. But long story short, when it comes to a matter of offense, in that show I took every measure to commu- nicate that Television and the media needs things to be black and white because grey is far too more complex and you can’t get there in a sound- byte. . And when there’s a scandal, everyone falls into two schools of thought. That is, offensive people are evil and wrong;; or it’s the right going, “Well this is just political correctness gone mad”. So in the show I took those both arguments to their illogical ends... But then, we manufactured a situation where everyone in the room was forcefully divided into one of those two schools of thought.
Yea I know what you mean. Melbourne has had a bit of that recently, with the forming of two camps around whether comics can say or not say offensive material and for a long while, everyone was at each others throats. I saw a bit of that thing unfold actually and the kid that did it, Alan Driscoll who did it? And the bit was about how impotent he felt when his girlfriend was raped. I’ve seen the bit. And I actually think that it is quite tender. He goes to the preposterous notion and also creates a tender moment, saying that he wanted to say a joke to make it better. This argument has been going on for years and when unfunny people start weighing into it... Shut the fuck up! You don’t hear me arguing with a doctor about medicine. And with me, I’ve been banging my head up against this rock for God knows how long. Is there a plethora of misogyny and rape jokes going on in Comedy now? Yea I think there is because guys watch other comics with skills pull it off and so they think they can too. I’m bored of seeing new comics get up on stage and they think the punchline is, “...and I fucked a kid”. Am I offended by that? Nah, I’m just bored. But, in order for me to be one of those comics who could pull those sort of jokes off and get it right, I had to first get it wrong. Now, bottom line is, Holocaust victims said of Mel Brooks, “The greatest revenge they ever had was laughing their arse off at Hitler”. So for every person who is offended by a rape joke or a racist joke or a disabled joke, there is someone who finds catharsis in it. You must have some new audiences now that you’re touring this show with Mick Foley? Are you starting to see a lot of wrestling fans come to your show? There’s a huge crossover. Both me and Mick were surprised by the audiences. The amount of people who recognised me at his gig and vise versa. But also because I’m out as a wrestling fan, if you have any sort of public profile and you let it be known that you’re a wrestling fan, other wrestling fans will seek you out. It’s that kind of community. What kind of advantages do you think there are from getting into stand up a bit later on in life? You learn quicker. You’re a lot more accountable in front of an audience too. I think in general, the people that I have seen over the years have progressed the fastest have been people in their 30’s. They look at what they’ve done wrong on the night and immediately fix it. Although, to be fair, Television these days is looking for younger and younger people all the time, which, if we’re to look at the American model, is exactly when the industry starts to eat itself from the inside;; when people start to worry whether someone is too pretty or not. Which is why the US is starting to have a renaissance, and why a lot of us who are here are looking to go there now because people who were doing stand up in the 90’s weren’t doing it for the money or the television, because neither was happening. They did it because if they didn’t they’d have to kill themselves. That’s why they’ve got that renaissance period is because it’s all natural comics. We’re in the middle of the boom now which is all pretty guys in haircuts. And slowly but surely, mainstream audiences will begin to go, “Urgh, this is all very similar”. Well this show “Good God Almighty” is anything but!
Yea absolutely. I mean, we did this show a week in Montreal, we did New York State and Jersey, and that was us just working out our material. But yea, it’s all very surreal. We were premiering the show in Montreal, and I turned to him and said, “Do you have a self destruc- tion button I need to know about?” This is the guy who used to have C4 death matches. This guy used to throw himself willingly into barbed wire. And, you know I strongly believe that we will be firm friends until the day we die. And how do you think the audiences here will react to it? Are we wrestling fans here as much as abroad? Here’s the thing, in Montreal, I said to Mick that the Quebec audiences are notoriously quiet. They don’t clap, they’re quiet. And with this being the 30th anniversary, we’ve got a lot of shows to compete with so we might not be that full. Don’t take it personally, it’s just the way it is... Boy was I talking out my arse. We were sold out every night with a line around the block, we were getting standing ovations as we were entering onto the stage. Because it is like shooting fish in a barrel, I’m doing a comedy festival show about wrestling in front of wrestling fans. It’s a bizarre world that is so rich. I mean consider that the first five years of a comedian’s act is usually a guy talking about his day job. Here we have a guy who’s had the most bizzarest day job for 30 years. It kills like nothing I’ve ever seen. Like, in Montreal, everyone is trying to be cool. I mean, there are a lot of icons there and you have to be invited to the festival. It’s the wrestlemania of comedy festivals. Edinburgh is the big one but anyone can go to Edinburgh. This is the showbiz one. The Academy awards. So everyone’s ‘cool’ there but as soon as they saw Mick, they all turned into fans. So could I come to the show even if I wasn’t a wrestling fan? I think the most apt quote we got was, “If you’re not a wrestling fan, you’ll like it... If you are a wrestling fan, you’ll absolutely love it”. Mick says he wants people who aren’t wrestling fans to come along and enjoy the show. I don’t. We’re already stereotyped and prejudged enough. But everything I know about comedy audiences goes out the window with this. I don’t know. As a comic, you’ll watch this show and you’ll think this is nuts because you won’t understand what we are saying but we’ll be killing (laughs) I guess my final question is, what has Mick’s experience as a wrestler taught you about comedy? It’s very much the same lifestyle and it definitely attracts the same personality type. Absolutely same carbon copy personality type. But one thing it’s definitely taught me, and I think this is show business in general, that if you’re a comic. And I don’t mean a career guy who’s looking to do this for television, I mean, a comic who did it because if they didn’t, they’d die. If you’re a comic and everything you’ve done in life, you think is stupid, pointless and a waste of time, it ends up being useful. You end up doing comedy about it. I mean I used to be a closet wrestling fan. Every time the wrestling was on, everyone looked at me. And I don’t watch it ironically, so anyone who says that can go and fuck themselves. I’m sick to death of irony. And up until now I thought it was this pointless obsession until now. But everything that makes you, you, will be useful in your career and it will end up making you money. (laughs)
GOOD GOD ALMIGHTY! PART 2: Mick Foley
So where are you calling from now? Im calling from Kansas City Missouri. I’m doing a couple of shows out here. I’m gonna debut my new material and hope that it’s workable and as good as it can be before I get to Australia. I mean it’s so easy to rely on stuff that you know already works, because I know that that would work really well. But from a performer’s standpoint, I want it o feel fresh. And you kind of want to feel like you’re taking the audience on a journey with you and hopefully it’s a journey that you’ve not already been on. Has Brendon told you about what to expect from Australian audiences? (laughs) Not as yet, is there something I should be aware of? (laughs) Nah nothing like that. Just thought there might have been a difference between the Montreal audiences and the UK audiences. Aw! I mean every audience is different. Kansas City will be different from Iowa next week, and they’re both much different from Los Angeles audiences which are different from New York. But the lesson I learned in wrestling is that you hope that people come to see me do what I can do best.
Beau Fitzpatrick Well you definitely bring something completely new, that’s for sure. A wrestler turned comedian is something I’ve never seen before. But this isn’t your first time in Melbourne isn’t it? No. My last tour out there was around in about 1999. Long days touring for the WWE. But I worked so hard that it was literally enough time to fall asleep and wake up, so. This tour is a little less demanding. I have a few days off so I can spend most of it to see as much of the city as I can. And plus we’re doing Perth, Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne & Sydney. And your show is called Good God Almighty. Where does that name come from? (laughs) Yea. It’s actually a reference to a Jim Ross quote when I wrestled the infamous “Hell in the Cell” match. He said “Good God, Almighty, he’s been broken in half. Someone stop the match”. But having said that, we’re going to be talking wrestling in general. It’s not necessarily going to be the same show it has been. We’ve got new material and new stories for the Australian audiences. The good thing about naming it that is people who follow you down here will know the reference and will know that it is going to be about wrestling and will also be aware of what to expect.
It’s a bit of an incredible leap though. Going from Wrestling to comedy;; have you noticed a similarity between the two industries? Oh yea, they’re incredibly similar. You know, it’s one of the things Brendan and I bonded over. Essentially going out there on stage is like going out there in the ring but without the threat of physical injury. But it’s got the same feeling of walking a tight rope. The same excitement of succeeding. The same disappointment of failing. But you know, unless the set goes very, very bad, you’re probably not going to end up in an emergency room. Yea true. I mean, in wrestling, you need a high physical tolerance for pain. In comedy you need a high emotional tolerance for pain. You must have an incredibly high threshold for pain in general. Yea it can be punishment! You know, there can be nights where it’s the greatest feeling in the world and then there are nights when it’s not so amazing. Fortunately the highs vastly outnumber the lows. But a set that doesn’t go that well can obviously be a mind numbing experience. Yea I can imagine it would be similar to being suplexed. Yea I’d put them out on par. (laughs) Well thankfully we’re having a blast with this show. It’s very much worth it and I can’t wait to put this show on in Australia. I was watching the Montreal performance on YouTube and it was great to see that your fans actually followed you out to the stand up arena.
Well the urge to get reactions has. I was just talking to the guys at the WWE about this. They came over to finish up the last bit of the recording for the DVD we’re filming and it’ll be out in April through WWE. And I was talking about when I was 18 and found that I had the ability to get shock people and that felt great. It translated well in the ring too. When I was playing the bad guy, I could induce fear and you want that when you’re playing those characters. You want to create that sense of being ominous. As I got older, I realised how difficult that was to do on a nightly basis. It requires so much physical wear and tear. And I realised that there were so many more things that you could use other than my body to induce shock and terror with. I honestly regard that match that I did in 1998 called “Hell in the Cell” which is undoubtedly one of the most famous matches in my career, I look at it as a turning point for me because I realised that I couldn’t continue entertaining people largely through physical feats of daring. You know? I had to mix it up with other emotions and that’s when I started to make the character more lighter hearted, more comedic. Yep. Yep. And in terms of the move, in general, has there been any road bumps in that transition to comedy? Well yea not really because the industries seem so similar it’s spooky. It really is as similar as it could possibly be. Just take out the physical element. I mean some of the closest shaves turn out to be the best experiences. As an assignment in preparing for Montreal, Brendon told me to get us some warm up gigs in the New York area. So I just made a few phone calls, I didn’t know anything about actually booking, myself. We ended up in a bar and grill that not only did not advertise our names at the front, they were advertising the previous nights late dinner special. Great. Yea, so the people coming inside didn’t order comedy.
Yea! Yea, it’s very flattering. It’s always a leap of faith for the wrestling fans who come out to really know what they’re gonna get but the responses so far have been really flattering. From what I know, once people come, they really enjoy themselves. They almost unanimously leave pleasantly surprised. Yea. Because there would be some people in the audience who have never come across your work before. How do you approach those sort of people? Oh I love having non-wrestling fans. I love entertaining them. My goal is to make those people happy. I think the review I’m most proudest of is from a show I did in Edinburgh which was reviewed by a decidedly non-wrestling fan who said, “If you’re not interested in wrestling, you’ll like it. If you are a wrestling fan, you’ll love it”. And I really do, I try to create a comforting atmosphere so that the people feel welcomed. Mine is not a mean brand of comedy at all. Brendon will shock and offend people. Mine is almost PG. Good cop, bad cop. (laughs) Exactly, exactly. Because even when looking at some of your wrestling clips, I noticed a stand up comedian wanting to break out. Has the urge to make people laugh always been with you?
Did they introduce you as the last nights late dinner special? That wouldn’t have surprised me. Brendon, for one, arrived and saw what was going on. He was like, “Im not doing it mate. I’m not doing it”. And what changed his mind was me saying to him, “Brendon, think of the stories we could have from doing this show”. And they played his music and he went up and they were eating out of the palm of his hand and he had a great time, you know? And we’ve done some amazing shows, we’ve sold out shows in Montreal and Edinburgh, and we’ve toured the show all around the world but when I think about it, one of the greatest memories ill cherish are those 15 people who didn’t see it coming at that Bar & Grill. That was very special to me. Well hopefully when you’re down here you can take the time to see the sites and have some fun with it. And so you’re from Melbourne? I had a girlfriend from Melbourne, many many years ago and I think... she’s older now obviously, we’re talking 23 years ago. And I don’t think she’s interested in being seen by me. (laughs) So I’ll be on the look out for her. Maybe you can hashtag her before you come down. Yea I really, really doubt she’s following me on Twitter.
LITTLE MELLY AND THE GREAT GARRUMPHAL: A Cautionary Tale For Thomases and Robertas of All Ages. BY AILSA DUNLOP L
ittle Melly fafundered home, desperate to impart to her Mother and Father the horrors she had witnessed. Her life would never be the same again, you see. For today, Little Melly had encountered the Great Garrumphal. “What is this Great Garrumphal of which you speak?” You ask, reader? “How is it possible that I, a father of three, grandfather of seven, and accomplished pittiwoll breeder, with a PhD in Centrobillary (applied and theoretical), sitting here in my hand-carved listura pine armchair, am certain I have never heard of such a thing? Either my mind is not so graftile as I esteemed it, or you, author, are telling impilgent chinnywithers!” Rest assured, reader, I seek not to groatslip you. Nor do I endeavour to pass judgement on the actions of Little Melly on that kismetious day. I merely wish to recount the events that passed, that others may learn from my truncular tale. It began a perfectly ordinary day at St Figliss Primary School. First came Surfory Metalwork, then double Liptography. A quick spilge of Biplantular Arithmetic before break time, and Little Melly reinflaturated her kimphing batteries by mythensencing beneath a jodhip pine and cavriciously omboscoing a monk-and-giracta sandwich with murenciebun paste. It was not until she returned from her afternoon foraxional, that Little Melly’s day began to take an unbrigionary turn. When she entered the classroom, eager to calp straight on with the afternoon’s acadurious fillities, she was, to say the least, ignosturated to discover the room emptied of its zemious pupils, and holsiton standfirm. In their place, she found what could only be described as the most chagrious, emprostifiled creature she had ever seen.
It sat glodgily in Teacher’s chair, its cladging rimbangles flothing over the side as the arms skreented under the unpaley whorge. From its hovious mouth dangled a ribbon of the most inharpular drowk, which itself fairly quanked of rotten sitnips. But this was nothing, in comparison to the feeping zail that emanated from the Uphracian foot it rested upon the table. So remothstuous was the farp of decomposing sallycrubs from this ompulating appendage, that Little Melly borruked and could scarcely contain her gorphing stomach. Thus, the beast spoke: “Nah, cos, like, I only got here twenty minutes ago – more like ten, five, two. Literally, like two. And it was, like, there was no one in the classroom, literally. It was just really surreal? And, cos, when I see a chair, I just, like, have to sit? That’s just the way I am, it’s my philosophy? And then all these kids and a teacher came in and, like, I guess, okay, in THEORY, I ate them, but it was in, like, self-defence? Like, it was me versus them; I was versing them? Cos there was, like, literally a thousand of them. Not literally, but I mean literally, like, as in a saying? Like, I say it how it is, so I’m not gonna lie, I ate your people, but, like, at least I’m honest? Always be honest, cos, like, everything happens for a reason?” Little Melly could stand no more. The zip of rancid cartigs was one thing, but now the Great Garrumphal had pidged her with its most whontid spear. No Little Richard or Jocasta had been known to auditate more than three minutes of the Great Garrumpal’s motterangs and survive. Faster than a pelkator risping, Little Melly distrenched her teacher’s favourite pencil from its shelly, and smapped it into the Garrumpal’s hefty forthion. With a terrific "GURK", it hussewed its last, and furthugged to the floor in a pool of its own traw. Little Melly turned and zammerred home, anxious to bydie up in her own bed and forget what a tertibious afternoon she had had. But what Little Melly didn’t know, as she bumbowlered down the high street, was that when she had jaked the trevorous beast, three Little Garrumphals and a Garrumpaline had been watching from the bullery cupboard in abject pestifor, as their beloved loaf-baiter had met his Hazar. Unhappily, reader, it betrabes me to tell you that, as you optigest these words, it is likely that Little Melly, and indeed, her Mother and Father, are no more. But I beg you, do not lachrytate! Only, think on Little Melly’s shryless deed, and know that I tell you her story not to instill in you the huddering jivver-birries, but to make you wiser to the ways of the Great Garrumphal, that you may not commit the same terrible blash. You have been duly cauldered. Good night.
CAVE OF THE WIM WAM
BY SEATON KAY-SMITH F
illed with the bravado of an adventurer, and the water from a nearby stream, the recently hydrated Jack Diamond trudged through the bush of the Fin Finnay; a forest many say is haunted, but few believe it. (It's not haunted). "Alright, Hanna, game plan update," said Jack, coming to a halt and raising his hand to cease his companion's stride. "We find the treasure of the Gintang Goowop, take the orb of the Trippy-Lippy-Doo-Doo, and make our way to the secret whereabouts of Martin Martin, that Swine!" Martin Martin had stolen what was most precious to Jack. He had stolen Fiona, so now Jack and his man-kick, Hanna, would trek through the Fin Finnay. "He is," stuttered Hanna. "He is a swine. Only a swine would kidnap someone's woman and hold her captive." Jack looked Hanna up and down. "There are lots of things that do that, not just swine. It's unfair to swines to say that; it's a bit of a generalisation." Hanna was ashamed of his empathy. "Are we far from the treasure?" he asked, trying to steer the conversation away from boarish bigotry. "No, we're close," replied Jack. "We'll enter the Wim Wam, and that is where we'll meet the fiery bird." Hanna's ears pricked up like a concerned daffodil. "Fiery bird? You never said anything about a fiery bird. What fiery bird?" Jack turned to Hanna, looked him deeper in the eyes than anyone had ever dared to gaze, and uttered the words, "The dragon." Hanna's face all of a sudden turned a very pale shade of white. "What is it Hanna?" asked Jack. "Is it your woman's intuition?" "A dragon? You never said anything about a dragon." Hanna could feel his knees weaken.
Hanna shuddered at the thought, but already Jack was off; tearing towards the cave, tearing towards the dragon. When Hanna caught up with Jack, he found him at the mouth of an ominous cave. Sulfur stained the air and the grass felt crisped beneath their feet. "This is the place," said Jack. Hanna gulped, "What if the dragon eats you?" "Then I'll fight my way out from the inside! I'll rip out his heart, tie up his intestines and exit through his anus! Like a real adventurer! Like a real man!" "But he'll probably chew!" pleaded Hanna. "It's unlikely he'll swallow you whole." Jack shook his head, "Dragon's don't care about indigestion. They just eat. They inhale their food; I've never seen a dragon chew." "Oh, you’ve seen a dragon?" enquired Hanna. Jack thought momentarily. "No! That's what makes this so exciting!" "But what if he does eat you?" Hanna served. "He won't," returned Jack. "But if he does," Hanna sent back. "Never!" replied Jack. "I am both unwilling and unable to admit defeat." Hanna, unmoved, queried further, "But if he did defeat you...” Jack took out his blade and prepared for entry. "I wouldn’t admit it." As Jack began walking toward the cave's entrance, Hanna, not giving up his line of questioning, asked once more, "But if you were defeated, who would save Fiona?" Jack stopped in his tracks. "No one." Hanna could feel Jack coming around to his way of thinking. "That's why I'll be careful. I'm not an anatomist, I'm a trained adventurer. Fighting dragons is in the job description. If I don't fight that dragon, who will? How will we get the orb of the Trippy Lippy-Doo-Doo? How will we locate the Mung-Hip-Forwor province? Now,” cried Jack, “It's time to fight the dragon!" Hanna stood powerless as Jack ran into the cave. Blind to the action, Hanna listened, terrified. "Ah, Dragon, at last we meet!" He recognised the voice. It was Jack's. Then a mighty roar, which Hanna assumed was the dragon. A war cry: Jack. A bellow: The dragon. Then... silence. Finally, a bloodied arm flew out and landed by Hanna's feet. Horror filled his eyes. His stomach flooded with acid; he was sure he would throw up. "Don't worry Hanna!" he heard Jack scream. "That wasn't my arm!"
Jack shouted excitedly, "You're my protege! You signed up for danger, for heroics, for dragons!"
Hanna looked at the arm, it was extremely hairy, not like the smooth arms of his hero. A leg came flying out, hairy and muscular.
"I never signed up for dragons!" cried Hanna
Hanna threw up.
Jack rebutted, "It was a non-verbal contract, an unwritten agreement. Penned in thoughts and notions. Don't worry Hanna, I'll fight the dragon."
SEATON KAY-SMITH: Purveyor of sexy secrets, Prince of Wonderment Towers. Follow him on Twitter; like him on Facebook.
“I didn't know people did this in real life,” I said.
AN EXTRACT FROM A NOVEL IN PROGRESS.
“They do if there are four other fuckin' people at the same table.”
Cynical comic, erstwhile activist and successful middle-aged sellout Tony Mallow attempts to redress some of the wrongs of his past, or at least hide them better. We start on page one, where it begins, at first…
He was talking about my business partner, Sandy, and our disinterested lady company: my Pearl, Sandy's wife, Mary (both ostentatiously full as googs and now debating whether coffee and pastries might kill them), and Sam's 22 year-old redhead from the Sunday morning women's sport roundup.
By SF Lyons I
topped up my glass with the last of the pinot gris while he wrote a generous figure on the clean side of a serviette. Everyone at the table went quiet because this would help their x-ray vision penetrate his hand, cupped around the cloth and the looping pen. Sam O'Quinn, the new CEO of Network 8, would have learnt this routine from TV shows and movies but nowhere in real life. He was relishing his first taste of offering someone a lot of money without needing permission and he might have even had a stiffy, but that's an ungenerous thought. He flipped the serviette over and tried to slide it across the table through the debris from Vue de Grosso's famous eight course degustation dinner, but it got snagged on a bit of marinated veal tongue, so he picked it up with a deft fold 'twixt thumb and birdfinger, leaned across the table with a grunt, and dropped it on my chocolate mousse. “I think, mate, you'll find that satisfactory.” I drew my ticket to Bigtime out of my dessert, trying to remember if this was the same bit of crisp linen I'd seen him wipe his hand on when he came back from the toilet.
Cinnamon giggled as she tried to playfully spoon some peach into Sam's mouth and he wouldn't open up. His attention was fixed on me. I unfolded the serviette and looked at the sum of money he was offering. I'd been hosting and producing In Mallow Tonight on the ABC for three years, with respectable ratings for a late Friday night slot on a government broadcaster. “Cult status” was the polite term. The amount written on the napkin – my proposed salary – was twice the entire budget for the current show. I maintained a dignified calm by filling my cheeks with fluffy chocolate. I laid the cloth facedown on the table and Sam studied me like a poker shark looking for tells and I ignored him, and the napkin and the money, and ate the mousse, thinking about the traps he was baiting. I swallowed and looked him in the eye. “For what period?” “Per year, on a three year contract” “Budget?” “Much bigger than now. Obviously.” Sandy reached across Pearl's plate and turned up the serviette, pondered the figure written there for a moment, then returned to his peach melba without a word. I continued. “It'll have to keep the same timeslot. It won't work any earlier, or on a weeknight.” “We thought maybe ten thirty rather than eleven.”
“Mmmm.” “We can discuss that, but we'd never make you go earlier than ten thirty.” “You'll give us complete creative control?” “You've got a proven track record with this show. We wouldn't want to change a thing.” “I keep the same writing team and cast.” “Yep. Absolutely.” “No open contract. This program and nothing else. I don't want to be forced into some celebrity pole dancing show.” “Yes.” “No cross-promotion interviews or advertorials.” “Of course not. Look, I think we're drifting off into minor details here, Tony. This stuff can be discussed as we draw up the contract. The key point is: a fuckload more money to do the same thing you love doing, but better.” “And you get to mark your territory as the new boss.” “Of course. It's always a pissing contest, Tony. Not with you, with the board. And with the other network bosses.” “That makes my show the piss.” “Does it? That can't be right.” He thought earnestly for a moment. Cinnamon got her chance to get some peach in him, but his attention hardly left me while the gears worked on a metaphor he was happy with...
To read more you'll have to wait for the finished book. When that will appear remains a mystery. Meanwhile: Follow SF on twitter @sflyons, facebook.com/sflyons, sflyons.blogspot.com SF is also looking for comedians to interview as part of his research for the novel. For details visit mallowbook.tumblr.com/interviews
BOOROWA BIKIES No stage, no microphone, no lights. A crowd of aggressive, heckling, drunk Bikies. Canberra comedian Greg Kimball says he’d do it all again...
By Greg Kimball We’ve all done gigs in our favourite
rooms, with friendly crowds and familiar stages. Hell, you’d take them every time, right? You’re comfortable on stage, you know the space and you feel completely safe and in control. That’s not to say these gigs don’t involve risk. There’s risk of being owned by a heckler, losing the support of the crowd, or generally just not being funny. But there’s no physical risk to you, directly. You won’t die - at least in a meta-physical sense. I’ll tell you about a time, while doing comedy, when I genuinely felt there was a legitimate chance I could die. It was the most fun I’ve had standing up. And, not to brag, but I’ve had sex standing up. Firstly, you'll need some context. Each year, we take a group-show called Capital Punishment from Canberra to the Melbourne International Comedy Festival (MICF). Like all wannabe comedians, we have no money to travel, let alone live. Actually, I think that’s just all comedians. So we do fundraisers. The particular out-post we chose to anoint with our cultural blessing, was a town called Boorowa, a ninety-minute drive Northwest. If, for some reason, you were driving from Canberra to Dubbo, Boorowa is the first stop on a long drive to disappointment. It’s a shearing town of about 1000 cousins of Irish-Catholic persuasion, and the only thing better than the bakery’s pies is forgoing them and driving on to Cowra.
The town’s list of attractions consists of native birdlife and sheep. Boorowa’s major (only) tourist attraction is 'WoolFest’, featuring the annual Running of the Sheep. This involves a herd of sheep running down the main (only) street of town. The first (only) page of the Boorowa tourist information guide optimistically describes it as, “Not as dangerous as the running of the bulls, but just as visually exciting.” Hmm, sure it is. This is a town crying out for entertainment. So why would you decide to perform in such a town, Greg? Excellent question, thank you. But please don’t interrupt. One member of our group, Jez Margosis, taught there in the '90s, and still had contacts in town. Or, as his wife and show’s producer, Beverly said, “He thought he was somebody.” In the two previous shows in Boorowa, a total of about 13 people showed up. Some of them even paid. We were opened at 10:30 pm by a loveable rugby league legend and stroke victim, who killed doing thirty minutes of racist Joke Book jokes; my feet were threatened with amputation. S So it turns out, in Boorowa, Jez is not somebody. At least, not somebody anyone likes. The poster on this last sojourn read: BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND, but I doubt they got the joke. By "poster", I do mean the singular. There was one black and white faded poster on the door of the delightful Ex-Services Club, right next to the stained-glass image of an angry Japanese World War 2 soldier, which didn’t exactly suggest there was a sushi-train inside.
Despite flyering the whole town, by show-time, there were two customers. On one last Blues Brothers-style lap around town, we stopped in at the thoughtfully named Top Pub. We held out little hope as the owner of the pub six months earlier all but settled on selling the joint, so he decided to tell everyone in town what he really thought of them - only for the sale to fall through, leaving him with no mates and even less clientele.
“This is it, someone’s getting stabbed, I thought...” Walking through the back gate to the beer garden, I saw about forty Harley Davidson motorbikes and a group of large, loud, drunk, leather-clad, mullet-toting bikers. “G’day ladies,” I said. “You wanna come to a comedy show?” There were blokes there too – I’m not suicidal. “When?...Where?...Fuck off,” were among the responses. They told us they were staying put because they were pissed and they’d already been booted from one pub. Apparently one of them got into a family’s car in the drive-through bottle-o.
BOOROWA BIKIES By Greg Kimball If we wanted to bring the show to them, they told us, they’d listen. Lies. Bev and I looked at each other and shrugged – why not? Turns out there were a few reasons why not. The first one being the repeated suggestion from one bloke, who looked like an extra from every prison movie ever made, that if he got drunk enough he wished to have non-consensual sex with all of us. The challenge became more of a demand. A burly bloke then yelled a shaggy-dog story of his own at me. I can’t remember it, as I tuned out in a kind of school-yard anxiety… These guys didn’t want my wagon-wheel. His mate stuck a finger in my chest: “Fuckin' listen to him, he’s gonna listen to you later.” I was convinced he meant listen to me scream. Our stage was a wooden gazebo, with a hand-painted sign that read: The Cubby House. No microphone, no lights, and a bunch of jeering bikies. As I stood on the step about to start, I reasoned that surely they weren’t interested in violence, which calmed me down. Right up until the bikie leader told me, if I wasn’t funny, he would pour petrol on the Cubby House and set it alight with me in it. It was a joke, sure. One which brought about the kind of laughter you see in the movies, when a bad guy makes a joke/threat of violence. His gang laugh because they have to and the good guys laugh along all nervous-like.
"...’Be nice to him’. This was like telling a hens party to behave themselves at Manpower Australia. Having a more difficult gig, 21-year-old Danny Phillipa was probably done a disservice, when I said that he was an ANU student. And to "be nice to him”. This was like telling a hens party to behave themselves at Manpower Australia. “I knew instantly that all my material was either useless, too long, or going to get my face massaged with a fist,” Danny told me later. So he improvised by asking what work they did and if they had drugs; not exactly endearing him to a group of people who told us strictly the video we taped can never go online because some of them "might" be wanted by the police. But he survived.
The rest of the night went over without incident. The bikers did most of the joke-making themselves, bouncing back and forth, and we laughed as much as anyone. Jez did his thing, though people still thought he was nobody. Marie Helou, who earlier in the night said there was no way she was getting up, gave a last minute nod and closed the show to many offers of sex. I believe they were respectfully declined. After the show, the bikers were all complete sweethearts. Later, one of them even sent my forgotten notebook back to me in the mail. They bought us a beer and said that they planned to give us a hard to time to toughen us up. We all agreed that it sure did. “I’ll never play a harder gig than a bunch people who use drugs as currency and use the word ‘c***’ as punctuation,” Danny said. It was the biggest rush I’ve ever had doing comedy. The danger was real, as were the consequences. But I’ll never be apprehensive about getting on stage again. That is, until next year, when we go back to Boorowa.
The scariest moment came when Kale Bogdanovs was 'propositioned' by the Sergeant-at-Arms in a jeering joke.
I’ve seen enough movies to know the bad guys always end up doing what they joke about doing. My first line was interrupted with a cutting, bellowing voice: “You ain’t saying shit, funny man, until I get me fuckin’ stubby holder back.”
Kale stepped off the steps and accepted the offer with a gentle caress of the bike boss’ beard, immediately emasculating him in front of his underlings. He slapped Kale’s hand away. For five long, nerve-wracking seconds, we held our breath. This is it, someone’s getting stabbed, I thought.
Thankfully she got it back quickly, not that every single line thereafter didn’t get the same treatment. It was horrible. But at least I was the one they liked.
‘Doodle’, which was seriously his name, made a comment about Kale’s appearance. The group laughed, restoring Doodle's status and diffusing the tension.
Greg Kimball is performing as part of the Capital Punishment show in the Canberra comedy festival: March 19-23. Get tickets here: canberracomedyfestival.com.au