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Diary of Melbourne, 2009 part 1 (Apr 15-19)

Posted by on April 20, 2009

Wednesday 15th April 2009

A complete day of travel today. We had Jeremy drive us to KL Sentral, where we arrived a bit before 9am, and were able to catch the 9am Skybus to the LCCT airport. We arrived about 20 minutes before check in opened, so I took Doyle to Marrybrown and got him a kids meal since he hadn’t had anything for breakfast. Then it was time to check in, which was a very simple process, along with immigration and security.

Waiting for our flight, Doyle impressed me by reading/recognising the words “Mummy,” “Daddy,” and “Doyle,” on his travel sized magna doodle when I wrote them for him. And also scared me by taking a couple of tumbles. He was okay by the time we were to board the plane, though.

Our flight to Melbourne was a little under eight hours. Doyle got to sleep a bit on the plane, and since most of the entertainment system on Air Asia costs money to use, I just used the flight chat. It’s funny how the eighteen year old passenger sitting next to me and I got to know each other this way, rather than chatting with our voices, but then again there was a creepy guy in the same row, a few seats down, who kept trying to hit on her in the chat room we were in. So I don’t blame her for wanting to be quiet and keep things private. She was really cool, and totally said I was her idol after I’d listed a few of the things I’ve done in the last eight years. LOL. She wasn’t the only one being hit on in the chat room, though. But where she had a creepy old guy, I had a young twenty-one year old. It was very strange. I kind of regret not giving the girl my email address, though. I think it would’ve been cool to keep in touch with her.

Arriving in Melbourne, getting through immigration, collecting our bags and going through customs was a pretty easy process again, but for the fact I was carrying Doyle in his car seat and had nothing to push him around on until I’d collected his stroller at the baggage collection point. We got to the Skybus just in time, and the driver was very courteous, helping me with my bag and finding a place on the bus for Doyle’s stroller. It struck me as something an American would probably expect a tip for, so it was certainly appreciated by someone who didn’t expect anything in return.

With how easy everything was, from arriving at the airport and everything on my way to checking in to our hotel in the evening, I have to say it’s done a lot for my confidence. Usually I have Jeremy by my side for this sort of thing to just back me up and support me, if nothing else. It’s great to know I am still capable of doing this sort of thing on my own, in a city I don’t live in (though admittedly am very familiar with), and with a toddler to take along, too. Just knowing what I had to do to accomplish what needed to be done really helped a lot, I think.

We’re only in this accommodation for three nights, but it’s not really that bad. I stayed here last year, in a better room with an ensuite. Last time I used the public bathrooms and wondered why there were showers in them. This time I know it’s because there’s rooms without bathrooms attached!

It was apparently nine degrees when we arrived in Melbourne, though I certainly didn’t feel the cold until I woke up the next morning absolutely freezing.

Thursday 16th April 2009

If I was still in KL, I would’ve woken up at my normal hour today. However I was two hours ahead, and thus woke up at an unrespectable 9:20am. Doyle slept in even longer, though! I’m not sure what time exactly we headed out, but I think it was around the 10am mark. We headed toward the Melbourne Town Hall to collect the tickets I’d already booked, but on the way we stopped at a cafe for some breakfast – french toast and fresh fruit. Doyle had the fruit and a little bit of the toast, and I had the rest. Then we wandered the rest of the way up to the Town Hall.

Collecting my tickets I’d purchased was a much more complicated process than I expected. At first, the machine only printed my first two tickets, and thought it was done. But I had four more to pick up! The guy couldn’t even see the other tickets properly on the system. He managed to get my next one printed out, but the last three were even more complicated! He had to leave me waiting a couple of times. But I eventually got all the tickets I’d paid for.

One of the tickets I’d collected was for a 3pm show that afternoon, but we still had plenty of time to waste before it started. So we wandered into a few different shops on our way back to our hotel (which I’ll mention here is about twenty minutes away from the Town Hall), where we spent a little time, then went next door to a cafe to get a milkshake and use their free wifi long enough for me to email Jeremy the room number where we’re staying (so he can find us on Saturday morning) and check some emails from real estate agents I’d contacted. Then we had to come back to our hotel for a quick nappy change (for Doyle, not me!) and headed back to the Town Hall again. We still had a bit of time to spare (and Doyle was asleep by now), so I checked out the half price ticket room, where I ended up with a cheap ticket to a show I thought Doyle would enjoy at 6pm that night.

We started the queue for Potted Potter at around 2:25pm, having had nothing else to do in the mean time. Doyle was still sleeping, so one of the ushers ended up reserving me a seat where I would be able to fit Doyle’s stroller right next to me. This worked out really well because even though we had been at the front of the queue, we weren’t the first into the actual theatre.

I really enjoyed the show and thought it was a pretty funny parody – more from Jeff, who had ‘apparently’ not even read the Harry Potter books, and was worth the price of admission just for the song at the end. Doyle was less enthralled than me, but did watch the whole show, having woken up from the first round of audience applause, welcoming the other comedian, Dan, to the stage.

By the time we got out of the show, it was 4:30pm. I couldn’t exactly remember how to get to the Trades Hall, however, so I thought I’d head back to our hotel, even through it was completely the wrong direction, to collect my Google map and my print out of the tickets I’d booked for other shows at the venue, so I could collect them at the same time. Luckily there had been enough time for me to do all of those things, as well as stopping at Hungry Jack’s for some take away dinner on the way.

The show we went to see was a performance of Alice Through the Looking Glass. Doyle wasn’t terribly impressed with going into the venue, but was completely enamoured with the show as soon as it started. He certainly enjoyed the songs throughout the performance, and when it was over, he even asked for an encore with a simple request for “More,” which mostly amused me and the woman sitting next to us. He was cranky when I told him we had to leave, however, because he wasn’t going to get his requested encore. I thought it was pretty cleverly done, and was most amused by the male actor who took on a couple of female parts. I was glad Doyle enjoyed it, though, as I got the ticket for him more than me.

After the show, we headed back to our hotel once more (are you getting a picture for how much we walked around Melbourne today? All up probably two hours twenty minutes or so), stopping in to an IGA supermarket on the way to get some food we could eat that didn’t require any cooking. Soon after returning, we did what was required before bed, and went to sleep sometime between 8:30 and 9pm.

Friday 17th April 2009

I woke up around the same time again, despite a really early night. And when Doyle woke up and I turned the light on, I discovered my head had left a very big blue patch on the pillow. Oops? Given I’d put the dye through my hair on Sunday, and this is the first time it’s left a mark on a pillow, I’m not sure exactly what happened.

We didn’t have specific plans for today, so we spent much of it in our hotel room. Having been to the supermarket the night before, we had enough food to last us anyway. We played a lot of games with the toys we’d brought. Doyle is especially keen on his jigsaw puzzles where he has to match the mummy animal with its baby, and is capable of doing them now all by himself. He also had an absolute ball using his toy mobile phone that makes animal noises. For example, he’d press the dog button, which woofed at him, and then he’d reply, “Hello doggy, how you doing? Woof woof.” It was just too adorable for words.

But because I didn’t want to spend the entire day couped up indoors, we headed out around 3:30pm to see if we could catch a movie. Unfortunately the kids’ movie I wanted to take Doyle to didn’t start until 5:30pm, so we just had a wander along South Bank before coming back to our hotel a bit after 5pm, where Doyle promptly fell asleep as soon as we got upstairs.

I decided to use Doyle’s rest time to put on some nailpolish over my still slightly blue nails (from my hair dye), and get some more paragraphs down on a story I’m working on.

It was nearly 7pm by the time Doyle woke up, so we went out for a walk to the Town Hall area, and I picked up some food for Doyle for dinner. We didn’t stick around for too long, though, because it was late, and I was starting to feel scared about going up to the Peter Cook bar on my own, especially as I’d have to carry Doyle in his stroller up some stairs. So we came back to our hotel and got ready for bed. Actually going to sleep took Doyle quite a number of hours, I’d guess. He thought it would be more fun to turn the light on and off.

Saturday 18th April 2009

Jeremy knocked on our door probably sometime around 8:30am. We hung around the hotel room until it was time to check out, then wandered down to our next hotel to drop off our bags, since it was too early to check in there yet. We had more of a wander, down to the Town Hall so I could show Jeremy where everything happens, and then across to Minotaur for some browsing (and shopping) before we had to be back at our hotel for a meeting.

After our meeting, we were able to check in to our room early, which we did so, and then it was time for me to head back to the Town Hall where I was scheduled to see a taping of Good News Week. I was very happy I got to go – this is only the second time I’ve been to a taping (the first being in 2000) of the show. Not only did we have an awesome guest cast of Reginald D Hunter, Jason Byrne, Cal Wilson and Arj Barker (all comedians I already adored before the show), but my seat, despite being in the balcony, was better placed than I was expecting, and some of the events that took place during the show had me in fits of laughter (one in particular had me laughing so hard, I wasn’t even making any noise). It was awesome, and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It kind of made me sad, however, that I can’t watch the show in Malaysia.

Then it was time to head back to the hotel and see Jeremy and Doyle again. We stuck around for some dinner, then headed out again for a little while because I wanted to pick up a ticket for the Festival Club in the evening. I figured it was my only real chance to see Adam Hills during the festival, and I’d get to see a few other comedians I was interested in seeing but don’t have time to see the shows of. Also, given that the show didn’t start until 11:15pm, I thought it better for me to be leaving Doyle with Jeremy, rather than with my mother-in-law later in the week to catch a similar late show.

Before we headed back again, this time to put Doyle to bed, we stopped at a restaurant to use a $20 voucher we had received earlier that day, for dessert.

So I left again, this time for the the Hi Fi Bar, across the street from the Town Hall, at 10:45pm. I joined the line as soon as I arrived, which had already been a bit long. When it came time to enter the venue, I was one of the lucky people who ended up with a seat.

The show started, and we were treated to the headline act, Al Madrigal, first. I thought he was pretty damn funny for the most part, though as one of the few parents actually in the audience, there were a couple jokes that bothered me more than pretty much the rest of the audience, given they laughed when I didn’t.

Then we got Adam Hills and Jason Byrne for our MCs. Jason Byrne became increasingly off his face throughout the night, having taken a couple of painkillers for his dislocated shoulder, and then decided it was okay to be drinking beer. So he was much more confusing (and confused) than usual. Adam Hills was his general charming self, even when they decided to go fishing for women with their microphones.

The acts we were treated to, interspersed with the above two comedians, were Tom Gleeson, Maeve Higgins, James Galea, Rich Hall and Nina Conti. Tom and Nina are both comedians I’ve seen before and enjoyed, and I certainly enjoyed them again tonight. Maeve was someone I’d considered seeing at the festival since she came all the way from Ireland, but she didn’t impress me too much in the beginning, taking a while to warm up the crowd. She was okay in the end, though, and did elicit a few laughs out of me. I hadn’t seen James before, but he wasn’t especially funny in my opinion. More, just another magician. As for Rich Hall – I prefer him as himself than Otis Lee Crenshaw, but he’s still not really my kind of comedian. I enjoyed his tale of entering Buckingham Palace and meeting the Queen for providing a cultural contribution to Britain, despite overstaying his visa, though. The night ended with the nominations for the Golden Gibbo and Barry Awards, but I didn’t really pay attention to most of those because I hadn’t heard of them. It was a little disappointing that, as Adam Hills pointed out, that was the only time some comedians up the back shut up, because they had made it hard to hear the acts from about James Galea onwards.

The nomination announcements ended the night at 2:20am for most people, though a DJ was coming out to play some music. However, I decided to leave the with the crowd because a) I knew Jeremy would want me back home and b) I didn’t have any friends there with me and I didn’t want to feel like a sad loser just sticking around with nothing to do. I need to work on my confidence some more, clearly, as I spent the walk home wishing Jeremy had been there with me to help me meet people, and even that that would be assisted if he decided to work more on his own stand up comedy, given he has always been given pretty good compliments after the few times he has performed. Why can’t I be more confident in my own abilities to resume performing comedy? Because whilst I think I’m a pretty good writer, I’m not sure I’ll be able to work on my performance and timing to be as good as I’d like to be. But perhaps easing back into the comedy scene is what’s best for me, so right now just watching and enjoying comedy is the first step. I should forget about the other things I might wish to accomplish in the future for now.

Sunday 19th April 2009

I’ve been tending to spend my mornings writing up my diary from the previous day, and today was no different. We ended up getting moving around 10am because we were planning to see the exhibition at ACMI, since it finished today. It’s the first time we’ve been there that you apparently had to pay, though, so we decided not to go once we were there. Instead, since Doyle had been begging to go to a playground, we ended up walking all the way up to Fitzroy Gardens, which I don’t think I’ve ever been to, end found one there. He had an absolute ball on a slide shaped like a dragon.

When we were on our way back into the city to get some lunch, Jeremy’s mum called us to let us know she was on the bus into the city. So instead of getting lunch, we walked all the way from the other end of Bourke St to Spencer St and Southern Cross station, where Kaye was waiting for us. We took her back to our hotel, where Jeremy made us sandwiches for lunch, and Doyle impressed his granny with his puzzle making skills.

Then it was time to head out to Federation Square to catch the free show that was on there. Doyle was more interested in watching and asking to go on the ferris wheel, so Kaye sat with him separately from Jeremy and me during most of the show. Our MC was Asher Treleavan, who impressed us with his diablo skills, and the main acts were Anna Pocket Rocket, who was very good with hula hoops; Smart Casual, who sung a few songs but weren’t really my taste; and Dislocate, which were a very impressive stunt troupe featuring two guys and a girl. I quite liked them too. Asher seemed interesting enough that I think I might go see him on Tuesday night. This is, admittedly, another reason I left some space open for shows – in case I found anything I’d like to see whilst I’m here. Given my initial plan of seeing Tim Minchin on Tuesday night, which I’ve as yet not bought a ticket for, would’ve cost me $28, and Asher is $15, that means I can technically see two shows for only a little more, instead of just the one.

After the show, Doyle got his wish granted to go on the ferris wheel with Jeremy and me, while Kaye watched and took a few photos, and waved every time she saw us. Doyle liked watching his granny from the ride, too. He wanted to go back on as soon as the ride finished, though, so he is clearly addicted to rides. As if I didn’t already know from the last theme park we took him to! But we didn’t want to pay again for him to go, so we went for a wander along Southbank and through the Crown complex to show Kaye around. She also ended up buying Doyle some bubble blowing stuff there, since that’s one of his other favourite things to do. So far Kaye seems mostly impressed with Melbourne, despite the grittiness she noticed in the beginning when we first walked down Bourke St.

Doyle fell asleep on our wanderings, so we came back to our hotel after such a long walk, and headed out again at 6pm for dinner at Red Rooster, mainly because I wanted to get Doyle a Bob the Builder meal. Jeremy and I parted company there from Kaye and Doyle, as we were off to the Elephant and Wheelbarrow to catch UK Dan Willis’ show, “Control Alt Delete.” I’d heard of Dan Willis from my friend Sharleen, so I was pretty happy seeing he was doing a show about IT, and that Jeremy had selected his show from all of my suggestions, to see. Otherwise I was not likely to check him out, after however many years it’s been since Sharleen first told me about him. I was glad we went, because it was such a small audience of only 14 people, and thus it felt really intimate with Dan getting to know all our names and professions individually at the beginning of the show. He generally didn’t get too technical for the non-IT minded in the crowd (given only 3 of us were computer geeks), but I did enjoy the few example pieces of code he used. It definitely appealed to my inner-geek. Although when he suggested I might go out on the town and get drunk with Facebook friends and being freaked out if one of them took a lot of photos of me behaving badly whilst drunk, I just sort of smirked because – well – that’d never happpen to me. I never go out on the piss like that! He ended on a note suggesting that sex can no longer improve computer technology, but offered a suggestion for what will next revolutionise the world. It was most entertaining, so I ended up talking briefly about that with him after the show, and introducing myself as a friend of Sharleen’s. He also invited the entire audience to a couple other shows he’s involved in for the festival, for free, saying he’d just recognise us if we went and asked to get in for free. Given my blue hair, I have no doubt about my recognisablity!

As we were making our way back to the hotel, I ended up convincing Jeremy that we should go and see the show that was on directly after Dan’s show, given that had been his other choice from all of my suggestions. When we went back to the venue, I asked if she show had already started. It had, so I was going to change my mind about going because I hate missing the start of things. But Dan was there and ended up convincing us to stay by saying we could get two tickets for the price of one. I don’t know how this happens, but I seem to have a knack for getting discounts when I am not so sure about making a purchase. The first time I noticed this was when I was in Thailand for my honeymoon, and fair enough because they like bargaining there. More recently I bargained down a miniature mah jong set in Malaysia (but I’m not supposed to talk about that, the lady said, so I won’t say how much I got off). I never expected for it to happen with white people, though! We’re usually pretty stingy.

Anyway, so we snuck in to the show slightly late, but I’m so glad we ended up seeing Mark Butler’s “Let’s Talk About Sex.” He basically treated the audience like a class of school students, teaching us all about sex education, and that made for an excellent punchline at the end (which I don’t want to ruin in case anyone happening to read this wants to see the show at some point). It was definitely an entertaining show, and I’d recommend it to anyone who has an interest in the topic. It perhaps isn’t so appropriate for anyone who considers themselves prudish, as it is a very confronting show.

So my experiences with the shows this evening reminded me why it’s worth coming to a comedy festival in the first place. It’s not just about getting to see the big name acts you’ve seen on TV live, but also about discovering some new talent and different comedians who can entertain you (and hope you’ll one day see them on TV, so you can say “I saw them when…”) After all, it’s generally these acts that are cheaper (though Claire Hooper’s show is very reasonably priced at $19.90 on a normal night, despite being a team captain on Good News Week; I’m planning on seeing her on Tuesday, though, when I can get $3 off). Sometimes you might accidentally pick a dud show, but that’s what the festival is about too. Besides, I appreciated how friendly and approachable Dan Willis was (and not just because he was a friend of a friend), and I think that also comes from not being a big name of the festival. It’s definitely shaped how I feel about and remember the good of coming to the Melbourne Comedy Festival.

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Dominica has a strong interest in exploring diversity in media, seeing people subverting corporate control of creativity through crowdfunding and indie publishing, and spending as much time as she can travelling the world and discovering culture. This is what she most regularly blogs about. In her spare time, Dominica is primarily focused on long-form improv theatre, and writing and publishing speculative fiction. You can find links to some of her free and published stories and screenplays on her writing page, or check out her pirate time-travel novel Adrift. Though born and raised in Australia to American parents, Dominica lived in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, between 2008-2014, until she moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. She also has a background in web programming, filmmaking, and stand-up comedy. For more information, check out her about page, or any of the specific pages about her various creative pursuits in the links at the top of the page.

2 Responses to Diary of Melbourne, 2009 part 1 (Apr 15-19)

  1. Amy

    Hey, I couldn’t find a contact address, so i’ll write here. Just wanted to say your blog is really interesting! I was there the same night watching the comedy at the hifi, and thought it was hilarious!

    Also I quote you…
    “b) I didnt have any friends there with me and I didnt want to feel like a sad loser just sticking around with nothing to do. I need to work on my confidence some more, clearly, as I spent the walk home wishing Jeremy had been there with me to help me meet people,”

    I was there with a great group of Couchsurfers… if you are a couchsurfer, you never feel like you have no friends, and approaching us is easy! Here’s a link to me… http://www.couchsurfing.com/people/tallbird

    Couch Surfing is a great way to see the world through the eyes of the friendly, cool people who live in it! I have a good social network of friends who are like the family i would choose!