Able Seamen

This weekend we’re boarding the good ship Pacific Dawn to set sail on a 3 day comedy extravaganza! 2000 people on a massive ship, head out into the high seas with a bunch of comedians. Standup, music, magic, puppetry, circus and lots of bingo. Oh, and of course, the buffet.

We’re frantically getting the final touches on our upcoming show “From Beer to Eternity”, so a few days away will be most welcome. That is unless we get lured in by the free food and half price martinis.

The cruise life is an interesting one. Although there are 14 floors including restaurants, bars, pools, casino, bars, theatres, cafes, bars and bars, you can very quickly find yourself with nothing to do. I guess thats the point. Thankfully, we have lots to do.

A few weeks back we went up to Wollongong to host the inaugural “Froth & Bubbles Beer & Cider Festival” at the WIN Entertainment Centre, home of the Wollongong Hawks basketball team. More that 2000 people over 2 days sampling 32 different beers & ciders from around Australia and little old us playing MC and entertainers. Beats corporate entertainment any day of the week! It did involve approximately 20 hours of drinking during work hours. Nobody said this job would be easy.

Life is good.

Life on the road…

Screen Shot 2014-06-10 at 3.33.43 pmRecently we’ve been touring a lot. Just after the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, literally 2 days after we closed the show, we were on the road in far north Queensland with the MICF Roadshow. 6 comedians, a tour manager and a stage manager crammed into 2 people movers performing all over the state. A travelling sideshow. A “Tarago” of Comedians is the collective noun. We drove for hours to get to little towns around QLD that are starved for comedy 364 nights a year. Proserpine, Innisfail, Townsville, Mackay, Capella, Mt Isa, Cairns, Gladstone, Rockhampton, Noosa, Logan, Brisbane, Toowoomba, Redcliffe. Crowds from anywhere between 300 and 1300 people. We’ve performed to more people in the last 5 weeks than have come to see us IN TOTAL in the last 5 years at Comedy Festival. That’s both awesome and depressing at the same time.

It’s not easy being on the road for so long. It’s hard being away from the family, it’s hard to eat a balanced diet, it’s hard to wash your undies in a hotel bathroom sink. The small difficulties of day-to-day life are well and truly made up for in job satisfaction. It’s great fun getting a chance to travel with amazing comedians from around the world. Living in each others pockets for weeks on end, you really get to know each other better than you do during the festivals. Loud noisy bars and drunken conversations are replaced with air conditioned cars and stupid observations. Laughing, snoozing and tapping along to music as you watch the scenery slowly change as the trees whiz past. And that’s just the travel part of the job. By night we get to do what we love in front of hundreds of people, and then watch our new found friends do the same. It really is a pretty sweet job.

I’m writing this from my loungeroom in Fitzroy. We’ve still got a little more roadshow to come in the approaching months, which we are greatly looking forward to, but for now, it’s nice to sleep in your own bed.

Come Flyer With Me

Comedy Festival has rolled around again. This year is our 11th consecutive festival in our great city. Doesn’t time fly?

All the preparation and rehearsal has long been finished and now our days are spent readjusting our body clocks and resting our voices for the immense slog that is ahead of us. We do 22 shows, every night except for Mondays, over a period of 4 weeks. We don’t get off stage until 10:45pm and it is hard to come down from the highs of doing a great show. Stand up comedy is truly one of the best jobs in the world when it works. There’s only one downside…

Flyering. v. To hand out flyers to unsuspecting punters in a futile attempt to get them to chose your show ahead of the 500+ other shows.

Back in 2003, when we first started out as youthfully exuberant little upstarts, flyering was great. We really got the feeling that we were a part of a festival – getting amongst the masses of people spewing out of the Melbourne Town Hall and proudly flogging your own show. Excitedly meeting other comics, discussing different flyering techniques, stopping every hour for our “union enforced beer break” upstairs in the Peter Cook Bar, rubbing shoulders with heroes and legends of comedy. We had so much energy. Ernie and I would go to battle each night, back to back, unloading thousands of flyers with our faces on them as swarms of punters swallowed us up.

And it works. Of all the marketing and advertising available to us, print ads in newspapers, street press, the MICF guide, posters, radio ads, internet ads, billboards and pictures on the sides of trams, flyering is the only method you can be 100% sure that it works. You hand a flyer to a person in the street, then you see that person in the audience. Sale!

I’m not sure if it’s just me getting older, but flyering seems a lot harder this year. The swarms of people have gone and the steps of the Town Hall are crawling with comics & mercenaries with no one to push their wares on. You end up having the same conversations with people over and over again, hypothesising different reasons as to where everyone is. It’s the last hot night for ages, people are having barbecues; it’s raining so everyone has stayed home; there’s a footy game at the G; the economy; the government. In actual fact, the people are in theatres watching shows in the Melbourne Comedy Festival. Every year the attendance record gets set. Everyone is seeing shows, there are just too many shows for everyone to see.

Maybe it is the wisdom of age that makes me realise this. Or maybe the marketing strategy has changed in the last 11 years. I dare say it has. Facebook didn’t exist 11 years ago. The term “social media” was yet to be coined. When an ad “went viral”, it just meant that you did a huge letterbox drop in your neighbourhood. There used to be a lot more face to face advertising. Frankly, I’d be happy to see the end of flyering. It’s tiring. It’s depressing. It’s not the ideal way to prepare for a show.

In the words of the great Danny Glover: “I’m too old for this shit.”