About nine months ago I started doing stand-up comedy with my friends at Happy Yess. We started out small and token, but this year we’ve launched a re-vamped and rejuvenated version with themes and headliners and organisation and everything. I’m really excited to be a part of it, and putting some time and energy into developing my own stand-up stuff. Having tried a few different ways to stand up on a stage and make an exhibition of myself, I can confidently assert that comedy is both the most challenging and the most instantly gratifying of all the theatrical arts.
On Friday night I took it to the next level. I decided to enter the Melbourne International Comedy Festival’s Raw Comedy, which is a national amateur comedy competition. It was a significant step up for me, having only tried out comedy in the comfortable shelter of Happy Yess, and it was certainly a much larger audience than I’ve ever tried to be funny for before. Apparently there were about 400 people in the audience. Not that I could see any of them for the bright stage lights.
A few of my fellow contestants were trying out comedy for the very first time. And I was surprised at how many of the others had never been backstage at the Darwin Entertainment Centre before. These days I’m as at home backstage as I am in a bar or a church, but I suppose not everyone has had the same theatrical background as me, or lived in Darwin for as long.
There were about a dozen contestants, all of whom did a pretty good job, and the crowd were, for the most part, really good and generous with the laughs. There were only a couple of instances of heckling, and they were reserved for those who could obviously handle it. And at one point a little girl jumped on stage and asked if we had any fish for her.
Phil had assured me that the best strategy with Raw Comedy was to do a musical number, so that was what I did. I’ve been writing little musical numbers for Happy Yes for a few months now, so it wasn’t a big stretch to write full song for the competitions. And it went over pretty well.
I really hadn’t been too fazed by the whole process, but when the winner was announced and it wasn’t me, I discovered I had wanted it a little bit more than I realised. I was a little disappointed, but no so much as to harbour any ill feelings.
In the wash-up, Phil asked me why I had done a song. “I’ve spoken to the organisers,” he said (apparently this is still the sort of thing that just happens to him), “and they told me they’re really not looking for musical numbers these days.” I don’t know… one of these days.
I think I’ll probably give it another go next year. We’ll see what happens.
Make of that what you will.
Garry with 2 Rs