"All sorts of entertaining" - Elizabeth Seckman

"Michael and his pals make me wish I lived in Adelaide" - Cherdo

"If I had a daughter, I'd send her to Australia to meet him (and marry him)" - Robyn Alana Engel

"An Australian version of me. Only younger. And Talented. And better looking. Okay, nothing like me." - Al Penwasser

"Whom must I fuck or pay to get a quotation at the top of your blog post?" - Janie Junebug

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

New Experience Challenge Week 10: Just a Great Night Out

Saturday night was the closing night of my show. It was time for me to start really taking advantage of my Fringe artist's pass. Up until then I really hadn't seen anything. So I started planning the shows I'd see for the rest of the week with an absolutely bumper day on Saturday.

It started at 4pm with a live recording of the "I Love Green Guide Letters" podcast. I'd never been to a live podcast recording, so there was a new experience already. I also hadn't heard this particular podcast before, I'd just heard about it on other podcasts. The room was huge and pretty much fully packed out, which surprised me. I thought it would be 20 people in a well-lit room. The host Steele Saunders came out and introduced himself, saying 'I'm Steele Saunders and I DOOOOOOOOO love Green Guide letters.' That confused me, he said "do" in a high-pitched voice like a wolf-howl or something. Some of the audience did it to, which made me think it was some sort of recurring opening. He did a bit of stand-up at the top of the show, referring to individual super-fans he knew in the audience including two girls in front of me who'd driven in from Melbourne and made their own show t-shirts.

He introduced the guests for this episode which were Adam Richard, Chris Wainhouse and Greg Fleet. They all sat on the stage and just started chatting. It wasn't like a normal chat, because when four people are talking there tends to be a lot of talking over each other and mentioning in-jokes. This was a more audience-friendly type of chat. Adam and Greg had a great rapport with each other, while Chris wasn't as involved. It seemed like he wanted to find a place to slot in, but didn't want to step on anyone else's punchlines and potentially lose something funny. Steele was just sitting back watching it all unfold and occasionally being a mediator. After half an hour of conversation, Steele decided to get to the first letter.

For those who don't know, the Green Guide is the TV lift out in the Herald Sun newspaper in Melbourne. Each week they have a section where the public writes in on TV-related issues. Steele looked at his notes and read the first letter out in a high pitched old lady voice like you'd hear on Media Watch.
"Dear Green Guide. How wonderful to hear the vibrant commentary of SBS' telecast of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras! I hope SBS makes this an annual event! The vibrancy of our progressive and secular society sits in contrast with a government that wants to discriminate against the community and their right to choose the option of marriage. It is a bittersweet juxtaposition of our political culture and our open society."
To which Greg Fleet replied...
"I like how she wants this to be an annual event. I don't want to tell her anything about history but it's been an annual event since 1969."

They chatted about the letter and about the Mardi Gras for a while and then moved on to the next letter. Again he put on the high-pitched old lady's voice.
"Channel Ten's coverage of the Winter Olympics has been the best by a country mile! In the past all we got was hours of ice dancing and figure skating. This time we got to see a 50 kilometer cross-country ski race! Live! Congratulations on a job well done!!! And that's from Simmo in Pascovale."
More talk about that one with frequent request to cut bits out of the show and callbacks to things already mentioned. A couple more letters and then the guests were thanked and the show was finished up with a showcase from another Adelaide Fringe act - a young nerdy looking white kid who took words and phrases from the audience and then completely blew us away with an improvised rap song containing all of those things.

From there I had a bit of a break before going to see Greg Fleet perform at the Rhino Room. He was working on a show called The Games Master which I was intrigued by. It was all about how competition permeates our whole lives and how boys can come up with some sort of competition just by locking them in a room with an apple and a match. I saw the show and there was not one mention of games or competition in the whole show. I was disappointed, because I usually love Fleety. He claimed he'd been a bit self-indulgent that night, so maybe it was just a bad night to come. And darn it, the guy's so charismatic that it made me want to see the show again to see if it would be any different.

After the show finished I had half an hour to get from that room in the top end of the CBD to the Astor at the bottom end where my show was held. Simple enough, that trip only takes five minutes max by car...
I'd forgotten that parking spaces are at a premium during Fringe time on a Saturday night. I burst into the venue at 8:25 with half the guests already in their seats. It turned out ok though. Better than ok. In fact, closing night was the best night of the whole run. We were just having as much fun as possible with it - we were already in celebration mode at a season well run. And the audience went along with it the whole way.

I planned to go out and celebrate for a very long time after the show. The first stop was an Asian dessert place on Gouger St with Russell, his girlfriend Kit, his parents who were down from Whyalla and some friends of Russell's and Kit's. It was one of those places where the menus weren't written in English for most of it. I got Russell's friends to pick a number at random and I'd have whatever item corresponded with that number. They picked 117... which was a grass, red bean and jelly soup. Well, here comes new experience number two.

Now Jerida will tell you how big I am on finishing my food. I've often finished food on other people's plate just so it won't get thrown away. I don't know when it started or how I became so obsessed by it, but it's become a good source of laughter for her and her family. I couldn't finish this soup. It was such a small bowl and the first couple of spoonfuls weren't so bad. But with each spoonful it got more and more unbearable until just over half way through when I finally gave up. I went to buy a second dessert to get the first one out of my head and that was much, MUCH better. I was called a mango volcano, if that gives you any idea.

From there Russell and I rushed off to the Late Show at the Producer's Bar. I'd always wanted to go to a late show because I'd heard about the ridiculous stunts that get pulled by the comedians and the crowd. Things such as sculling contests, hecklers and crudity. Alas, this wasn't one of those shows. It was a simple lineup show - but still, it was a great lineup. Jack Druce, Nick Capper, James McCann, David Quirk, Chris Wainhouse and Steele Saunders all did a good job, but there was one sketch comedy act that definitely needs talking about. The act was introduced simply as Stella as a girl in pigtails and pink shorts bounded up on stage and started talking about how she was a "Like, so famous 11-year-old pop star". She did some song-and-dance numbers while interacting with a stagehand that kept popping onto the stage. She kept making demands of the stage hand and then telling her to stop and get off the stage because she was so ugly. I've never seen so many audience members with their jaws hanging open.

She pulled out a "volunteer" from the audience and got him to join in on a dance number. Then she announced to the audience that the two of them were dating and asked him what he wanted to tell the audience about her, to which he replied 'Aren't you 11?' She closed her set with a medley of love songs begun and ended by Am I Not Pretty Enough by Kasey Chambers, sung with crossed eyes and a cartoon voice. It was when she got to Whitney Houston's I Will Always Love You and the audience member gave in and started singing along that I finally lost it. I laughed so hard I couldn't breathe for the rest of the song. So the late show was my third new experience. It may not have been that different from what I normally do, but it counts, so shut up.

From there, Russell left to go home and I joined some other comedians to go to the Fringe artist's club. It was around 1:00 in the morning by this stage, but the club had been turned into a nightclub, so it was still full of activity. I couldn't really see over the massive crowd, but it seemed like there was a shirtless gay dancer performing on the stage at the front. I just sat around chatting to other comedians for a couple of hours and let my night fizzle to a close. Last drinks were called at 3am and security guards had to come out and block off the bar. I headed over to the Rhino Room where the party was still going and chatted a bit longer before finally heading home. I think it was quarter to five in the morning when I stumbled into bed. I hadn't stayed out that late since New Year's Eve 2008. It had been a great night.

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