Word On The Street
So, how’d the day go? There’s images in my head of a packed crowd, pushing their way into the SRO venue. A lone Canadian hits the stage and destroys with every joke he utters sending the gathered throng into frenzy. Then there’s the image of no more than three people in front of you accepting every joke with blank stares. So, yeah. Could go either way.
Woke up. Had breakfast. Sorted out the laptop. Barreled into the city. Made it to the venue and started sorting it out with seats, lights and everything. There are three acts going on on any particular night at the Alley Bar, my venue for the duration of the Festival. First up is Peter Morley who is an improviser with a one-man show. He is also a member of the Canadian team “Toronto On Top”, a sketch troupe that book-end the evening with me as the filler. We got together and got the room together.
Hooked up with Mike Sheer and ran into Chinatown to find a fantastically tasty and cheap dumpling house over which we discussed what we both needed to do to promo shows, get people through the door, all of that.
One of the things I noticed was that not only was the first night a holiday Friday, but also a night of a football match. So, all I needed was some sort of viral outbreak and I could pretty much guarantee that the only people that would be coming to my show would be HazMat officers. The trick to this festival, and all others I’ve been to, is working crowds with flyers and getting in their face so that they’ll come to your show. I’ve got to get folks in by all means necessary, pure and simple. Comps. 2-for-1s. The whole bit. Anyone that talks to me in the next while is getting a flyer for my show:
“Do you have the time?”
“Yes, it’s 3:14. By the way, there’s this show on…”
Got to the venue about an hour before the show and saw that Peter had approximately 15 or so people in his audience. Trick #1: As soon as the show is over, get people to stay somehow for your show. I offered them free tickets to stay. 10 or so took me up on the offer. So now I’ve got an audience. Hit the stage at 8:30pm and fired into the show. 45 mins of stand-up and 15 mins of Titus Malcolm. Verdict? So far, so good. Got the crowd off the start and it became a discussion punctuated with laughter. I’d throw out a joke and if the cultural divide was bridged, laughs came and then we carried on. If I hit something they’d never heard of before, we discussed and moved on. Example: They never heard of the War Amps. But the War Amputees, they had. A jump had to be made on their part and so I took them through it. “So, you’ve heard of War Amputees but not the War Amps? What did you think I was talking about? A stack of Marshalls in 1941? ‘Take that, Berlin!!! We will rock you!!!’” Even with that, they accepted it with laughs.
Titus did well enough but was by far the weaker side of the show. Let’s face it, he don’t know as much about Melbourne as he’d like right now, but he was able to fight his way out regardless.
So, first show under the belt and a success. Gave out the wristbands that I ordered that relate to my cancer joke and got them to tell friends about the show. Next stop, the Exford Hotel.
Another place to perform during the festival is the Exford Hotel, found on the fringe of Chinatown. It’s a free venue, a two hour show where comics with or without shows can come in and perform. If you’ve got a show, this provides a great opportunity to promote your show. This was exactly what I need. The show goes on in a bar that reminds me of the Pro-now-Stone-Street-Tavern in terms of layout, décor, and clientele. Mike warned me it would be a shit fight but coming from Toronto, you get practice. As much as you bag on the likes of the Fox and Fiddle back home, they get you ready for rooms like this that most can’t cope with. Go up. Be confident. Get their attention. Kill. Mike told me the last time he was there he got hosting gigs out of it because of his ease of handling the crowd. I got my spot from Jed the host as one of the International acts (since I was) and kept thinking in my mind, “You’re at Ein-Stein’s…you’re at Ein-Stein’s…”
The first three acts couldn’t seem to get a handle on the crowd or fight over the din so lost out quickly. I got the call and hit the stage engaging them with the usual stereotypes that they’d associate. They hit me quick with chants of “oot and aboot”, so I countered with “Yeah, here’s the Canadian, drinking maple syrup and reeking of beaver”. Score one for the Red and White. Got my grip and barreled through. Got told by an Irish guy that my accent on the Scotland joke was spot on. Always nice to hear. But he’s not Scottish either, so what does he know? After the cancer joke, the wristbands became a hot item and had people chasing after me for them. Don’t worry, it came at a price. They also got the invites to the remaining shows. So, the score so far:
TVA 2 – 0 Melbourne
Now we just have to get people to the show. Tell all your friends.