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Diary of Melbourne, 2009 part 2 (Apr 20-24)

Posted by on April 25, 2009

Monday 20th April 2009

Jeremy woke up at 4am to get to the airport on time to fly back up to Sydney, leaving behind his mum, Doyle and me. We got up more around 8am, and headed out sometime around 9:30am to catch the free city circle tram most of the way around the city, for a quick tour for Kaye, and to see what things we might like to go back to later during the week. We ended out tram trip on Flinders & Russell Streets, and wandered all the way up to the back end of the QV building, and headed in to Big W and Safeway. We went to Big W to pick up some super glue so we could try and fix Kaye’s glasses, and Kaye ended up buying Doyle a set of Bob the Builder toys (Muck, Scoop, Roley and Benny). Safeway was visited to pick up some groceries for our meals for hopefully the rest of the week.

Because we had bought some cold fridge foods like meat and cheese, we then headed back to our hotel, and made ourselves sandwiches for lunch. It is definitely pleasing being able to stay somewhere that we can make our own meals like that. We hung around the hotel for a little while after that because Doyle was having a ball playing with his new toys. While Doyle was doing that, Kaye and I planned out what we were going to do during the day for the rest of the week.

Then I wanted to head out to McDonald’s so I could pinch their free wifi and register my new phone SIM card online. Unfortunately I didn’t have my account number from my previous service provider with me, so I just grabbed a couple phone numbers I needed and posted my first blog entry of the trip, then came back to the hotel to collect the information I needed. Then it was off to the Optus shop to try and organise the registration, but I wasn’t going to get my free 20 texts there, so I was told Australia On Collins had free wifi I could use for that purpose, which I ended up doing. It took a lot longer to get it connected than I would’ve liked, though.

Before coming back to the hotel again, I wandered up to the Town Hall to pick up tickets for tomorrow night’s performances of Asher Treleaven and Claire Hooper. I then had a bit under a couple hours before I had to head up to the Athenaeum Theatre for my first show of the night, so I decided to stick around and have an early dinner, which was much better than the alternative of picking up fast food between or after shows.

I headed out to the Athenaeum a bit after 6pm for the Legal Comedy Debate, the topic being “Lawyers or God, who do you want on your side?” The audience was clearly packed full of lawyers, and there were a number of legal jokes that went way over my head given I’ve never even studied law, but for the most part I did enjoy myself. I think it might’ve been better if it hadn’t been almost entirely debated by lawyers, though. There are so many ex-lawyer comedians, and comedian/lawyers in the comedy circuit they could have chosen that I’m not sure why most of the debaters chosen had little to no comedy/theatre experience (judging entirely based on Yianni the adjudicators introductions of each of them). Given the number of lawyers in the audience, it was no surprise that the lawyers beat God in the debate.

The show both started and ended a little late, but I still arrived to my next show, Eddie Ifft from the US, with plenty of time to spare. In fact I ended up first in line to a sold out show, and sat right in the front on the end (as we were asked to fill all the seats). Whilst waiting for the show to start, I ended up having a bit of a chat with the girl sitting next to me, whom I found out was 20, had travelled down from Brisbane, and was attending the comedy festival for the first time. We amused each other by both being sad losers coming to see the festival shows alone. Perhaps I should’ve given her one of my ComedyDownUnder.com business cards! Oh well, maybe next time.

I enjoyed Eddie’s show quite a bit, though I hadn’t seen much of him before I decided to book. He’s definitely a good act to check out, however, and now I live in Malaysia, I appreciated what he had to say about political correctness. I ended up going up after the show and buying a signed copy of his CD, and convincing him he should visit Malaysia (both for the lack of political correctness, and the cheapness of food). I love convincing people to go to Malaysia; seriously.

When I returned to the hotel, I found Kaye watching the episode of Good News Week I saw being filmed on Saturday, and Doyle was sound asleep. I wasn’t especially tired, even though it was already nearly 10pm and I hadn’t got as much sleep as I wanted because of Jeremy getting up so early in the morning, mainly because when I leave a good comedy show, it makes my brain work at top speed and it doesn’t want to slow down and go to sleep. So I decided to write up the last part of my diary for today, and to also make a few notes about things I wanted to write for my stand up routine.

Tuesday 21st April 2009

Early start today when Doyle got up and ran around the hotel room wanting his daddy, whom he could not find. We then headed out at 9am and went to catch the circle tram until we discovered it didn’t start until 10am, so we walked to the Queen Victoria Markets instead. Luckily it wasn’t too far. Here I bought some footless tights for myself, new shoes for Doyle (since he only had sandals and boots, and neither were necessarily appropriate for current Melbourne weather, though he’d been wearing the boots), and some dried apricots for Doyle. We also got some morning tea here. Mine included a custard croissant with not very nice chocolate, and a pink, strawberry flavoured hot chocolate called a Pink Lady, which Doyle probably ended up drinking more of than me.

We then headed over to a nearby playground, but when Doyle ran away to join the travelling circus that was camping out nearby, I decided it was time to go. Doyle was disappointed by this, so we took him to the playground at Docklands Park on the circle tram, where he played for quite some time, before we continued on the tram back to our hotel. Then it was time for lunch, and I ended up having a two hour nap straight after.

After some play time with Doyle, I made us some nachos for dinner, which was quite good if I do say so myself! Then I had enough time to pretty myself up before heading out to catch my first show at the Victoria Hotel.

Claire Hooper’s “Forget Your Troubles, C’mon Get Hoopsy.” Whilst the overall enjoyment of the show was pretty good, there were a few spots that fell a bit flat, and I think part of that came from the subject of some of the show, where she mentioned a doctor had diagnosed her with mild depression, and I think that’s a topic most people try to avoid discussing. Whilst some people are of the opinion that a lot of comedians go through that sort of thing behind the scenes, it’s the first time I’ve seen it discussed on stage (though I believe there’s another show at the festival by another Perth comedian that also discusses depression, but in greater depth). There was a lot in the show that I really related to, also, and I think it’s something I more wanted to forget about than be reminded of, which didn’t help. So, whilst I still enjoyed the show overall, I don’t think it was one of the better performances I’d seen of hers.

The next show was Asher Treleaven’s “Open Door,” around the corner at the Town Hall. I wasn’t really sure what to expect of it going in, given I knew it wouldn’t be anything like what I’d seen of him on Sunday. I thought the show was kind of all over the place, with not much of a theme, and that made it a little hard for me to get into it. I really liked him opening with his silly dance number, but preferred his storytelling to his “jokes.” And his special trick with forks at the end had me a little grossed out. I have no idea how he is able to drink four Vodka Cruisers in an hour every time he performs his show either.

And lastly I went to see Reginald D Hunter, also at the Town Hall. Half the audience was already in when I arrived, but they had heaps of seats still available in the front, so I ended up in the front row, with a single British guy sitting behind me who decided to have a bit of a chat before the show started. That was nice. Actually I like any time some stranger decides to start chatting to me, because I am pretty incapable of doing this myself. Though I kind of thought he looked like he was initially trying to pluck up the courage to talk to me before he did, which was kind of cute. He had been in Sydney for a friend’s wedding, and was down in Melbourne just for a bit of a holiday afterward. Anyway! (haha, awkward like Claire Hooper; sorry). I really enjoyed Reginald’s show. He just comes across as very confident in his performance, and knows where he’s going, and I really loved that about him. He had a few things to complain about, and a few stories, and boy is he a good storyteller! He’s definitely a comedian worth seeing, and I appreciated not being picked on despite being in the front row.

Heading out, the British guy chatted to me a little further as we walked until we had to go in different directions for our hotels. It amused me, and I think he might’ve wanted to get a drink with me, but I thought I’d better get back to my hotel to avoid having him possibly trying to hit on me without the knowledge that I’m married and have a son. Nevertheless, I gave him a card for my comedy site, so maybe he’ll find me online, and read about this once I’ve posted it. Ahaha. Good thing only he knows who I’m referring to, since I didn’t even get his name.

Wednesday 22nd April 2009

A later start this morning because we thought we’d do some laundry before heading out. But after that was done, we took the circle tram to Parliament House, and joined the 12pm free tour. The tour took about an hour, and our guide was incredibly enthusiastic, telling the group how great Australia is and why he loves the country. He also explained how most Australians don’t see much of their country, preferring to go overseas for holidays. So at the end I asked him if he was in that same group of Australians. When he said he was, and asked if I was the same, I proudly told him I’d driven across the Nullarbor twice and seen much of our country. Then afterward, I mused with Kaye about having never been to a building like that in WA where I’m from, even if I have seen them in Melbourne and Canberra. It’s an incredible building, however, with so much gold and expensive tastes in the building, so the free tour was well worth the visit.

Then it was back to the hotel for lunch, and yet another afternoon nap. I was awoken by several SMS noises on my phone, indicating that it was finally working! Hurrah! So I went to get credit for my phone, and sent off a few text messages I needed to send to get in touch with folks I was planning on seeing whilst in Melbourne. There were plans to see someone I went to high school with and haven’t seen since then, eight and a half years ago, tonight, as well as catching up with some online friends on Saturday, after I’ve swapped hotels.

After dinner, I walked all the way up to North Melbourne, about thirty-five minutes away, to The Comic’s Lounge. I’ve never seen a show there, and the last time I was in the venue, I’d interviewed Chris Franklin, Chris Wainhouse, and Rebecca De Unamuno. It’s a very nice set up, and I think if I lived in Melbourne (especially if I lived in an apartment in a nearby street I was looking at buying), I’d be there often. When I walked in, I was greeted by Tom, the guy I went to high school with I mentioned in the previous paragraph. We found a table and chatted for a while until the show started. It was a 3 for 1 offer, where by you paid $20 to see 3 comedians: Fox Klein, Corinne Grant and Hung Le. Corinne and Hung I had seen on several occasions in the past, and they’re a couple of my favourites, so I kind of jumped at this opportunity. Fox Klein, on the other hand, I hadn’t even heard of. However, I thought he was brilliantly funny and charming, and I enjoye getting to see him perform for my first time. With any luck I’ll get to see him perform again. He told everyone at the end of the night to find him on Facebook, so I plan to do just that.

Both Corinne and Hung didn’t disappoint, and I enjoyed both of their performances considerably. Apart from one part of a section of Corinne’s routine, all of their material was completely new to me. And that one part from Corinne was about nine or so years old, so I highly doubt anyone else there on the night would’ve followed her career that long ago and remembered it. I was just a bit too keen on comedy back then and so remembered that sort of thing.

Since I finally got around to reading the first book I bought of Hung’s last year, which I enjoyed, and he was selling a new book for only $10, I ended up buying a copy and having it signed. He didn’t appear to remember me – it had, after all, been seven years since I last met him. And as I was there with Tom, and other people were waiting to buy his book, I didn’t bothere sticking around to chat. It was about 11pm when we left, so I convinced Tom to walk me part of the way back to my hotel, until we got somewhere he could catch his tram home. I walked past the Town Hall to see if I should like to go to the Festival Club to see the ten comedians for $10, but in the end I couldn’t be bothered. I looked briefly around and noticed Adam Hills talking to a group of girls out of the corner of my eye, but just continued back home.

Thursday 23rd April 2009

We spent the morning at the overpriced Melbourne Aquarium this morning. Luckily Kaye got a seniors discount, as well as 10% off her ticket, I got 20% off the adult price, and Doyle was free. There’s no way I’d be able to justify $31 for an adult ticket to the aquarium, even if I was going for Doyle to have a good time. He definitely enjoyed himself, though, which I’m very pleased about, though he did make me buy him three mini muffins and a lollipop from the cafe. The penguins were quite a sight to watch, too. Doyle’s new word from the day is “shark,” as he already knew penguin, seahorse, crab, frog and fish.

Lunch was back at our hotel, as per usual, and then we headed out so I could show Kaye a couple of shopping areas she hadn’t seen yet, like Bourke St Mall and Melbourne Central. Mainly she wanted us to head back to Big W to pick up a Bob and Wendy to go with the machine toys she got Doyle the other day. In Melbourne Central, I picked up a nice red shirt that wasn’t too badly priced, as I’d been sort of wanting to find one while I was here, so I could wear it with my red stockings. And so I did just that in the evening.

The only show I had a ticket for in the evening was Josh Earl is XXVII, which was about how Josh is 27 and yet not only doesn’t feel like an adult, also isn’t considered one by a seven year old he knows. So he went through the six things she said makes an adult, and had a song to go with each one, concluding he got only half a point for one of the six items since he’s engaged but not married. It was pretty enjoyable, and he has a great singing voice.

After that show, I headed to the Exford Hotel to check out the other couple of shows Dan Willis said I could go to for free. On my way over, a guy honked his car at me, presumably because he thought I was attractive. I can’t explain it, but I always get a good feeling when I think some random stranger finds me attractive, even though I’m married and not looking.

The first show at the Exford Hotel was Best of British, and I got to see Nik Coppin, Neil Sinclair, Stan Stanley, and someone else I don’t remember the name of. Dan Willis was the MC. When Stan Stanley came out, he noticed that I was sitting in the second row, alone, because there was absolutely no one in the front row, or anyone else sitting on my row. I knew when I sat there and no one else came and sat near me, I was destined to be picked out. So then he mentioned that, and said I had green hair, then moved on.

The show immediately after was Dan Willis’ Ferris Bueller’s Way Of, which was about lessons he learned from Ferris Bueller, and how they might be applied to his life. I quite enjoyed going along to the show, and was pretty impressed that through the three different things I saw him in, none of the jokes were the same. He even gave the audience “What Would Ferris Do?” badges as they left, and told me to take one for my husband.

I also decided to stick around for the Shaggers show after that, which was meant to be a bunch of comedians talking about sex. The highlights of that show were probably Henning when and Otto Kuhnle from 1000 Years of German Humour (More Otto than Henning), and Ged Cogley and Jamie of Collins Street: It Pays to be Greedy, who impersonated dirty Germans and abused the crowd. Because they had 8 comedians including the MC, I didn’t get back to my hotel until 1am.

Friday 24th April 2009

Another later start this morning because Doyle was keen to catch up on some TV. We took the city circle tram again, this time to the Melbourne Museum in Carlton Gardens. It was free entry for both Kaye and Doyle, so only I had to pay $8 to enter, which wasn’t so bad. We arrived just before the 11:30am tour, so we decided to go along with that, though no one else joined it. This was actually about all we did at the museum, apart from eating lunch and taking Doyle to the playground and children’s area. I felt like I could have and wanted to see more, but sacrifices must be made when your two year old says it’s time to go home. At least we got an overview, I guess. So we took the tram back to our hotel again. This was a necessity more because we didn’t want Doyle to have a nap at all during the day so he could have an early night since Kaye had to get up at 4am tomorrow in order to catch her plane back to Perth.

After a nap for myself, however, and some dinner, I left my sad son with Kaye and headed up to the Trades Hall for my evening of comedy. My first show of the night was Danny McGinlay – Food Dude, which was about some recipes he’d created whilst drunk, and at three different stages of intoxication. The first was party pie parmigiana, which was a party pie double coated in bread crumbs, fried in oil, topped with bolognaise sauce, wine and cheese, then popped in the microwave for a minute. Second was sushi with flavours from other countries – the UK, Australia and the US. I tried the US one, which was just filled with rice, mini frankfurters, and tomato sauce. It was delicious like I can’t even describe. I think I’ll have to make that one myself sometime. The final recipe was a 3 minute chocolate cake, where Danny poured estimated amounts of self-raising flour, sugar and cocoa into a mug, stirred it, then added oil, and egg, and milk, stirred it again, and popped it in the microwave for 2 minutes. I didn’t try it, but it looked pretty interesting. He had his aunt in the audience sitting in the front row with me, which made the show extra interesting. I definitely enjoyed myself, and was glad I went along to the show.

It was about an hour until my next show, Spontaneous Broadway, but people started lining up a long time before it started. I joined the queue about 25 minutes before the show started, and it was already halfway down the staircase. The show featured Geoff Paine, Ross Daniels, Julia Zemiro, Genevieve Morris and special guest Scott Brennan. I was most excited about getting to see Julia Zemiro because I’ve enjoyed her since her days on Full Frontal, and I didn’t know Scott Brennan was going to be there, so I was pretty thrilled when I worked out it was him on stage. Ross Daniels I had seen improvise on stage a number os years ago as part of Cops on Heat. That was pretty much the show that ot me into improvisational comedy, and I absolutely love it. I think it’s the kind of comedy that requires the most skill and intelligence from the participants. The show itself was amazing, and I was a little sad I wasn’t able to go more than once because you get a different show every time with improvised comedy. It started out with each of the four main cast choosing a song title from a bucket, where the titles had been written by audience members before the start of the show, and then coming on stage to build a scenario of the musical that title had come from in case that musical was then chosen by the audience to be performed in its entirety later, before finally performing that number as a taste for the whole musical. The musical the audience chose, which I agreed with, was called “Tough Times” that was about a rock group who wanted to make a difference in our current time period, and their hit song was “We’re Not in a Recession.” One of the highlights was seeing Genevieve Morris appear as Julia Gillard on stage, and her song with Julia Zemiro about Julia’s admiration of Gillard. I have so much admiration for the kind of talent it takes for anyone who can get up on stage and make up songs on the spot, as well as the musicians who had to make up their music on the spot.

It finished pretty much right on the time my next show was supposed to start, though, so I quickly rushed out and downstairs. Luckily the next show hadn’t gone in yet, so I had time to wait before seeing Xavier Micheledes. I went to see him because I was curious about seeing what a local Perth comic I’d seen so many times would do at the festival, and for the most part it was pretty different from anything I’d seen of him in the past. He played several roles throughout the show, and set it post apocalypse. It was quite interesting, but probably not one of the best shows I saw during the festival.

That concluded the festival shows I had paid to see, but there was then a free show at the upstairs bar of the Trades Hall that was a musical competition hosted by Julia Zemiro, for Eurovision 2010. I came in when the audience were suggesting things for a love song that Tim Minchin included in the song he wrote for his entry in the competition as the second last act of eight on the night, so I didn’t miss much at all. My friend Sharleen had wanted me to stick around for this because she’s a big Eurovision fan, and it was the only thing she considered coming down to the festival to see. For me, since it was the last thing I was going to be seeing at the festival, it was an excellent way to end my return to viewing as much comedy as I did. I had so much fun watching all the acts, but my favourites were the woman who was meant to be from France but originally Belgium who sung a country and western song and Tim Minchin. The non competing Birdman was also pretty good, and I did enjoy the winning act, Czech 1! 2! singing “Final Weekend” to the tune of “Final Countdown” but it was really close between them and Tim Minchin, and I thought since Minchin was more original and only came up with his song on the night, through the audience’s suggestions, he was more deserving. And it kind of made me wish I’d gone to see him when I’d planned to after all. But at least I got to see him perform a little live, and that’s the main thing I guess. I can certainly see why he’s so popular.

I left pretty much straight after the show ended, and didn’t even stay until the DJ started. I could’ve stuck around and spoken to so many awesome people, but Kaye was going to be leaving in three hours so I couldn’t really unless I wanted to survive on no sleep.

There are rare moments when I’ve felt like I’ve missed out on certain things by choosing not to go out drinking and socialising because I don’t like spending money on alcohol and I don’t properly know how to socialise in the first place. And just maybe there are related things I’ve missed out on because I got married at 22 and had a baby at 23. Walking home from the Trades Hall at 1am was one of those times. I spent it telling myself I had to get back to my hotel because in three hours my mother in law would be getting up to get ready to go to the airport. I had to get back to be there for my son, and to have a decent amount of sleep before he woke up. But I still knew that it was also because I was too shy to go up and introduce myself to others who hung around the bar after the Eurovision show. I still wished that I’d had thee courage to do that, instead of feeling like a bit of a loser for being there on my own. Walking back I had a couple people comment on my hair, but the most I could muster in reply to one of them was a “Thanks.” I’m not sure I deserve to have unusual hair when I don’t even know how to respond to the attention I get. Coming back at 1am was still the right decision for me to make, rather than staying longer, however. Apparently Doyle had been waking up a bit and asking for me, so six days of going out without him before he goes to bed has been a little much. And it’s because I have to be responsible to him rather than entirely selfish that there are those rare times I feel like there are other things I’m missing out on for having him so long. But I still love him more than I can describe, and wouldn’t change the past if I had that opportunity.

Also on the walk home, there was an air of sadness as I realised I still don’t know who I really am any more. Or that I do, but I don’t really like the anti-social side of that, and I don’t know how to fix it. There’s also the feeling of wanting to move to Melbourne really badly, knowing I can afford to buy here better than I could in Perth, but also knowing I can’t because my husband works in Malaysia. So I’ve come all this way, remembered why so many years ago I wanted to live here, but still have to sacrifice that part of myself for love. Don’t get me wrong, I love Malaysia, I love my house, I love my husband and son, and I love how cheaply I can live… but it’s not where my heart is. And I know it’s going to be that much harder to live in Malaysia now, knowing that I’d rather be here in Melbourne trying to reformat myself and become the person I want to be. I’m very aware that I just can’t be that person in Malaysia. Instead I will just have to find comfort in my writing, and the idea that maybe one day my husband will get a job in Melbourne, and we will live here then. Just writing isn’t doing anything for my social skills, and even if we somehow made it to Melbourne directly after my husband’s contract was up, I think being twenty-seven and still not knowing how to talk to strangers is going to harm me even more.

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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.

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