LapTopping – 83 – “Mighty Douche”
LapTopping – The Bit Long, Official E-zine of The Bedroom Philosopher
Thursday May 26, 2011
**The Bedroom Philosopher’s High School Assembly.
Thornbury Theatre, Melbourne. June 24**
Happy Birthday Helene Bonham Carter 45 today!
Happy Birthday Lenny Kravitz 47 today!
Happy Birthday Stevie Nicks 63 today!
STAGE MANAGERS WANTED
Are you in Melbourne June 24? Do you have stage manager experience and be happy to help out at BP’s High School Assembly show? Email a brief CV to anthea at nibblesmusic dot com
Moments that fell down the back of the couch
From Justin Heazlewood.
“About two years ago I was at a Post Office in Carlton. Vince Colosimo was in there too. He was writing out a letter next to me, then wandered off. My pen stopped working, so I took the one he’d been using. A few moments later I felt a looming presence next to me. I turned to see Vince Colosimo, glaring at me.
“Did you steal my pen?” He boomed.
His face whipped into a smile, to show that he was messing with me. But it was too late. His ‘joking angry’ was so convincing that I was in shivers and my heart was palpitating. That night, I expected to find a broken pen in my bed.”
DO YOU HAVE A TINY LEGEND? SEND IT TO: laptopping at bedroomphilosopher dot com
NEW! MADE UP WORDS AND THEIR MEANINGS
From Freya Thomas, Melbourne.
A warm personal space. E.g. “I’m in a happy fugg.”
From Andrew Lacey, Melbourne
For designers who fail to keep up with the times.
DO YOU HAVE A MADE UP WORD AND MEANING? SEND IT TO: laptopping at bedroomphilosopher dot com
GET A WRIGGLE ON GOOGLET!
Phrases people have typed into Google to land on my website:
“i m deliberately typing this into google to get into laptopping”
“jusin bieber curtains for bedroom”
“what to put on cruskits for kids”
“the debdroom philosopher”
“toy poodle bereavement Australia”
“I was standing in my mum s kitchen watching the milk swirl into my tea thinking i m way too stoned to be making tea in my mum s kitchen”
“new south wales sangria”
“what popular song from the 2000s turned out to really be about golf when u listen to the lyrics”
“secret meet nan pop catholic”
TIME IS CHEESE AND MOUSE IS HUNGRY!
Tram Inspector video. Directed by Craig Melville
New single ‘Leaving My Hairdresser’ – now on iTunes
A GIGGLE OF GIGS
THE BEDROOM PHILOSOPHER’S HIGH SCHOOL ASSEMBLY
Thornbury Theatre, Melbourne. June 24.
A high school assembly for Croxton High School. There’ll be speeches, dances, music recitals and everyone’s favourite –certificates! Plus an extravaganza of special guests including:
DAMIEN LAWLOR (Lime Champions)
ANNA KRIEN (Frankie, Big Issue, The Monthly)
EMILIE ZOEY BAKER (International Slam Winner 2010)
Starring BEN POBJIE – As the Principal.
& SEX ON TOAST – As the school band.
Plus a set by BP & The Awkwardstra
Wear your uniform and bring money for the canteen.
WIT-BIX PSYCHOLOGICAL ANALYSIS
It’s a casual, slightly dead-shit Wednesday in Melbourne. I’m onstage, doing my bit about ‘Australia the high school,’ segueing into how awkward we are around Aboriginal people.
“Let’s not forget about Alice Springs, eh? The Aboriginal kid. Good at football. Thank God, so we’ve got something to talk about. He’s a new generation indigenous Australian regaling us with stories of capitalist dreamtime.”
I begin my impersonation of an indigenous storyteller:
“One day echidna went into the forest, and had a realisation of supply and demand.”
80% of the time 60% of the audience laugh, and I love them for it. This is my favourite bit of the show and anyone who appreciates it for the allegory on society it is, is my friend for life.
“He then offered to trade some leafy foliage with his neighbour Crow, in exchange for some gumnuts.”
I can smell the fear in the front row. Mostly from young people. Under 25’s are conservative when it comes to race and humour. Their world cleaved into the black and white of political correctness. I can see hamster wheels turn, moral compasses spin and etiquette rulebooks fan. Wait, is it ok to laugh at certain elements of indigenous culture? Are we laughing at or with them? Others are laughing, so is it okay? I am lightly confused, a feeling I don’t like, and the performer isn’t conventionally attractive enough to forgive for this.
My game of chicken with racism continues.
“He then invested the property back into his business, until he’d built his own bush mall. Where all the animals would come. To buy things they didn’t need.”
This is the punch line, and 80% of the time 80% or more people laugh at it. It’s a pressure valve – reassurance that I’m making fun of white people. The hamster wheels simmers. Lights turn green. Wind pipes fill. Stomachs shake out.
“And gorge themselves on imported eucalyptus leaves.”
I love mimicking accents. I love mimicking accents I haven’t trained for and have no idea where they’ve come from. I delight in the fact my teeth and tongue have instinct – know where to position themselves, which vowels to draw out and consonants to squeeze. I’ve only heard one other person attempt the indigenous accent – a friend in Canberra. He did it once, in a playfully derogatory manner ‘ay bruv have you got a smoke?’ But I appreciated it because it was authentic and Australian and in the larrikin phrasebook it eluded to acceptance and acknowledgement. Silence isn’t always so polite.
Down in front of me a young man is hunched over and crinkling a wrapper. He’s been fiddling about for most of the show while his drunken girlfriend claps out of time and cheers of her own accord. It’s a Wednesday night and these two are sitting front and centre in the 200 seat venue – totalled. Moments before, I’d done my anti-stand up bit where I target someone in the front row.
“So, do you come from a town or place?” The bit works best when the audience don’t know what to say and I harvest the awkwardness. Tonight, after ten seconds the girl blurts out “FISH CREEK!” even though I haven’t asked her.
God I love the wisdom and bravado that wine brings.
I know! I could help this show along by yelling things out. It will both keep me awake, and let the performer know that I’m enjoying whatever it is they’re doing.
Anyway, the guy has been crinkling his plastic for a while, so I’m pretty cranky.
“What are you doing down there?”
The dude looks up sheepishly.
He has a goon.
“Give it here,” I say, teacher style.
I hold the crinkly bladder aloft. The crowd sprawls into ‘um ah’ delight. Comedy bronze.
At this point in my life I have several options:
A) I could throw the goon away and carry on.
B) I could offer some quip about the couple coming from a low-economic area (Fish Creek).
C) I could suggest the couple are Herald Sun reviewers.
D) I could make the couple drink the rest of the goon.
E) I could drink the rest of the goon.
F) I could interview them for a bit, identifying what inspired them to sit in the front row to carry out their shady operation.
G) I could kick them out in a blunt, humourless manner.
Just call me Mr G.
I’ve had a few patrons removed over the years. My house policy is two strikes and you’re gone. I’m protective of my show like a mother bear, and if I sense danger from unhinged audience members then I’ll do everything I can to make them not be there. If anyone’s going to hijack my show it’ll be me.
It is not easy having a drunk couple kicked out of a Comedy Festival show.
A) They are drunk.
B) They think you are joking.
C) The security is your sound tech.
D) They think you are joking.
So what do you do?
“Get out” I say, pointing at the girl. “You have to go, seriously, get out of my show.”
“Go on, off you pop. You’re out.”
The guy realises.
“You’re kidding?” she says.
“No. No joke. Get our of my show.”
“You can’t make me” She says.
“Yes I can, c’mon, you’re holding up the show. I’m already in trouble for going overtime. I’m serious.”
”Is he joking?” She whispers to the dude.
“No.” he laughs, standing
“C’mon, just get out”
I’m flipping out in my own special way, but I don’t want to lose my audience, so I don’t swear or shout. I simply communicate my wishes with the efficiency of a fire marshal. After thirty more seconds Andy the tech comes over to give an air of legitimacy to the operation and the pair waddle off. To my surprise, there are murmurs of protest from those around me. I’m being too hard perhaps.
But I’d already had a song and dance with the girl at the start of the show, after she was yelling and clapping inappropriately. That was strike one. As a friend texted me later: “nice boundaries.”
They are escorted from the building.
There is a hole in the front row like a child’s front teeth.
To quote Dave Eggers: ‘’I am at once pitiful and monstrous, I know.”
* * *
Doing Wit-Bix for the 22nd time in Melbourne, to a quiet audience who I wanted to smash in the face with a frying pan, I was challenged as a performer. The golden rule of entertainment is:
“No matter how exhausted, no matter what kind of mood you’re in, you have to go out there and give those people the best nights entertainment they’ve ever seen.” (Richie Benaud to Nikki Webster.)
I always think of Tom Jones, the mercurial showman. What would Tom do? If he’d done 22 shows in a row and was feeling oversensitive and spiritually mutated, his scattered self-esteem projecting itself onto the murky faces of the back row, reading between the lines of silence to internally bellow “you’re a knob and we hate you for classified reasons” would he reach into some deep treasure box in his loins, spin some credit from a consortium of ego genies to buy himself a shot of adrenalin to sail his showmanship over the line one last time?
I’d been living in my own bubble and my shields were drained. It’s easier for Tom Jones. He’s got stadium sized hype. A cast of showgirls. Big hits he can belt out on auto-cue. I am faced with sixty people on a Sunday, naked in my stand-up. Outwardly cool. Internally boiling. Not playing Northcote.
Rules of showbiz.
A) The audience are always right.
B) If audience are wrong, refer to rule A.
Rules of showspaz.
A) I’m a genius.
B) Shut up and laugh.
Damn the rules. Damn the audience. Obey the moment, trust yourself and hope for the breast. My band, who were forced to huddle in the ghettos of the wings night after night, stated that the most fascinating part of the process was listening to the wildly varying levels of laughter each night. I heard a quote by Sydney writer Nick Coyle: “There’s no sound for awe.” If only there was. A low growl. It would help musicians, actors and poets out. The human body is a versatile instrument. Surely there’s more strings to the appreciation bow than clapping like a chimp.
Comedy is a perilous pursuit. You’re only as good as your last gig and some nights, your last joke. You’re a laughter junkie, always searching for your next hit. This is what sets comedy apart from other arts. The performer / audience relationship is boiled down to a pass/fail grade system. The audience are either with you or they are against you. This is why most comedians shout and talk fast, to psyche out the silences. With experience comes knowledge and sophistication – your thought machine is more adept at calculating audience responses. It takes into account the natural ebbs and flows of energy, the fleeting attention spans, the lateness of the hour. It tabulates reassuring evidence that the crowd have already ticked a big box by coming to see you and might just be enjoying you quietly – their smiles painting a thousand glowing LOL’s in the dark. It takes a strong machine to process this signal cross-fire and remain cool amidst the ego flares and quiver-shakes.
(Klap-ter – noun)
When the audience start clapping at the end of a big laugh. Usually reserved for ‘high concept’ stand-up – ie when a comedian machine guns a lot of words at once.
There’s no sound for awe, (cats can hear it) but there is a sound for a slurry of lames. A sub-audible anti-atmosphere – the sonic equivalent of a black hole. Something you hear with your pores. I can see my words being sucked down into the cross-armed back-slumped slit-eyed grizzle gobs, all haemorrhaged energy and narky expectations. Sixty minutes is a long time to do a show when you’re over it after thirty seconds. Pride cried and patience blown – awash in a toxic meltdown of back-dated disappointment and self-loathing martyrdom. Arrogant and empty, I punished the audience by finishing a bit, listening to the spurts of laughter dissolve, grabbing my water bottle and consuming the liquid like a snake.
Ballerina on an empty stomach, spinning.
Car with no oil, going uphill.
Moody douche, trying to be funny.
* * *
One of my favourite moments was offering people in the front row a different form of snack each night. The action is, after a song, when the audience are vacant and clapping, you snatch the snacks (ten times fast please), step into a long lunge so you are bowing before the person with your arms outstretched, and yell the snack as a question:
After experimenting, I found I achieved best results with:
“CRISP?” with a bag of Red Rock Deli at the ready. For optimum effect, you should open the bag in the same action as making the lunge – a sign that the treats are fresh and tamper free.
This was funniest when the person refused. Like the bloke in Adelaide who instantly put his hand up and said “oh no”, as if a Forrero Rocher wouldn’t possibly go with his beer. I was amused by the small amount of time it took a person to calculate they didn’t want one. I think it says a lot – your snack decision reflex time.
The key to spontaneous snack offering is to be a ninja. The whole exchange should take place in about eight seconds. Then you straighten up and launch into a bit of stand-up as if nothing’s happened. A few times this derailed when the girl next to the person accepting Grain Waves simply lost her mind, which then made me giggle. One of the few things an audience wants from you is to see you enjoying yourself. Tom Jones can fake it, with his collagen grin, but I can’t. It’s a rare gem when I laugh out loud on stage. A passing of the happiness torch.
The final snack moment goes to the middle aged bespectacled gent who is the same target as my “so do you come from a town or place?” He hasn’t taken to this tomfoolery, and stares up at me as if to say “Well what? Is that all you’ve got?” I feel bad about this and target him with the nights snacks, a huge Glad bag of SOY CRISPS? As I poise there, mid-lunge and vulnerable, the bulbous sack balanced precariously in my hand, a warm smile spreads across his face as he leans forward.
“Ah yes, I will,” he says, as if his son were offering him one at home, such is the ease with which he scoops out a generous fistful of twists. I stand up and carry on with the show. I’m mid-sentence when I hear the man loudly crunching away on his snacks. This is too much. This surly man, sitting there happy as Larry, chomping away as if he were watching Top Gear.
These are the moments I put up with life for.
* * *
In everything I do I like there to be some unknown variables. Some parts where I have no idea what the outcome will be. ‘Leaving My hairdresser’ was such a part. While busting out the closing choruses, I’d kick, leap and spin myself off balance while molesting the mic-stand and lobbing the mic in an attempt to create as much carnage as possible. It’s like the iphone game Angry Birds. Each night I’d ‘throw my bird’ but sometimes I’d do no more than rattle the mic-stand back and forth a bit. Other nights, I’d be lying in a pile of guitars, drum cymbals and kick stands, tied up by leads and blindfolded by my hairdressers cape. These were good nights.
Life can’t prepare me for the night when, mid Angry Bird, on my knees scrabbling about, my guitar stand is uprooted, bringing my own axe down hard on my head, the nut cracking me right on the top of the scone. As I stand before the crowd belting out the final refrain, a warm stickiness seeps down my face. I put my hand to my forehead and look at my fingers. They are red.
“I’m bleeding from the head” I tell the audience.
I finish the song, going on a little rant about “gee I wonder if this is one of the bedroom philosopher’s bits and he had a blood capsule hidden under his wig and he does this every night, or I wonder if he actually is out of control and may have concussion..”
It hurts, but I love every minute of it. This is pure, heat of the moment, one-off chaotic brilliance.
After the show Nature Boy informs me that his friends had asked whether it was a set up and I actually had a blood capsule.
* * *
One night I had a dream that I was flying along in a Volkswagon with my Mum. Down below, dudes were throwing eggs up at me. I was standing on the roof trying to catch the eggs so I could throw them back. We eventually reached some houses, and I now had the ability to fly. I was hopping from roof to roof, holding a handful of eggs, looking for someone to throw them at, but there was no-one around.
Read: My discomfort with being a tall-poppy.
* * *
Having observed Gen-Y’s disconnection with Aboriginal culture, I thought I could offer the community service of writing some stand up about it. After hearing my friend say “No, you can’t do stuff about Aboriginals, the whole audience will close down” it seemed like a good challenge as a writer and performer. As a humourist I would argue that no matter what the subject, there are always accessible jokes to be found. Like a horticulturalist can stare at an overgrown path and spy a bush flower or native moss, I would look at the muddled thicket of our post-sorry relations and find some witty twists of irony.
As part of my training, I MC’d a comedy night in St Kilda. It was here that I debuted my indigenous bit. It was an extremely high degree of difficulty. MC’s are supposed to keep the night buzzing along and the crowd were relatively conservative. My heart was an anxious stallion and my mind was sweating breadcrumbs. I was prepared to fail, but at the same time, I flatly refused to let the occasion beat me. It was two days before Australia Day, so I knew that link would buy me some time.
“Sometimes I wake up and think ‘I’ve never had a proper conversation with an Aboriginal person. And the older you get the more awkward it is. I think I’ve said about ten words, and they’ve consisted of ‘no’ and ‘sorry.’ (groans). I know, well at least I said sorry before Kevin Rudd did, that’s a feather in my cap. Sure it was ‘sorry, I don’t have any money.’ (tsk) I know, and I did have money, I was just really late for a hair appointment, you know how it is? (!?) And one time I gave an Aboriginal woman a two dollar coin and she just looked at it and said ‘oh great. A depiction of a deceased indigenous person which is a taboo in my culture.’ And threw it back in my face. And I thought, ‘man, this issue’s complicated!’”
The laughs are down, but I’m rewarded with a priceless feeling of solidarity as my adrenalin, instincts and skill link arms to offer me resolve through this trial by fire. The key to this routine is having back up prepared for when the audience shuts down. I’ve written a code that as soon as the laughter drops to 20% and stays there for 20 seconds I activate evasive manoeuvres.
“Look at you all clamming up, my little clams.” (air is released like underground fissures)
“You’re like ‘aargh, why are you doing this, it feels offensive to laugh about this, I came out to have a good night why are you doing this please make it stop!’”
“It’s okay. Somebody’s gotta talk about this stuff. It’s like comedy muesli. It’s good for you, but at first you’re not sure about the taste. I assure you tomorrow you’ll wake up and go ‘nah, I’m glad I had that. I feel really good in the guts.’ C’mon, let’s get a bit Ben Lee – ‘we’re all in this together.’”
The audience are 40% more onside, which is enough to work with. As a performer I’ve acknowledged their plight. I’ve said ‘I know this bit is hard work, and the last thing I want to do is punish you, but I do want to challenge you, so let’s meet each other halfway.’ The audience say ‘okay lesbian man – we haven’t seen you on enough panel shows to trust you fully, but we accept this token of respect you have shown us and will permit you a couple more minutes of this faux-subversive hipster politics before erasing it from our memory and replacing it with the latest hilarious song from YouTube sensation Jon Lajoie.
On two nights during Wit-Bix the audience were so good that they didn’t need the disclaimer (declammer.) The first time it happened I said it anyway out of habit, evoking unexpected hostility.
‘Hey, don’t patronise us Mr Indie Showbiz, our great grandmothers were Buddhist lesbian atheists and we’re delighting in your fresh approach. No need to give us the Saturday night dumb-down you pretentious twerp.’
The second time it happened I was ready. On the final Friday the audience shot their laughter into the air, warming me with a firework of enthusiasm. I wanted to eye-kiss them all and decorate their chests with medals for intelligence and open-mindedness. I’d shed a few rays of sun on the thick ice of indigenous guilt. I’d been successful in affecting the players in my personal world.
Andy Warhol said: “Art is what you can get away with.”
Keep going till someone issues a cease and desist.
LAYTOPING IS MISPELLED, AND FREE! WHAT A GREAT GIFT IDEA, AND IT’LL CUT YOUR ENERGY BILLS IN HALF! SEND IT TO A FRIEND!
NOTICE AND DISCLAIMER
LapTopping is published by the Frumer company on behalf of its subsidiaries and conglomerates. No part may be reproduced except all of it under International circumstances. Please read our information hotline for more company policy. I’ve been awake for a while now / you’ve got me feelin like a child now / cause every time I see your bubbly face / I get the tinglies in a silly place / It starts in my toes / and I crinkle my nose / where ever it goes I always know / that you make me smile / please stay for a while now / just take your time / where ever you go / The rain is fallin / on my window pane / but we are hidin in a safer place / under covers stayin dry *(safe) and warm / you give me feelings that I adore / It starts in my toes / make me crinkle my nose / where ever it goes / i always know / that you make me smile / please stay for a while now / just take your time / where ever you go / What am I gonna say / when you make me feel this way / I just……..mmmmmm / It starts in my toes / make me crinkle my nose / where ever it goes / i always know / that you make me smile / please stay for a while now / just take your time / where ever you go / I’ve been asleep for a while now / You tucked me in just like a child now / Cause every time you hold me in your arms / I’m comfortable enough to feel your warmth / It starts in my soul / And I lose all control / When you kiss my nose / The feelin shows / Cause you make me smile / Baby just take your time now / Holdin me tight / Where ever, where ever, where ever you go / Where ever, where ever, where ever you go / Where ever you go, I’ll always know / Cause you make me smile here, just for a while
In relation to your methods in dealing with hecklers and rude audience members, I can’t go past a show that you did at ‘The Spot’ 5 or 6 years ago. You were singing ‘Band Names are Brand Names’ and when you got to ‘For Libra Fleur/28 Days’, a girl piped up and said “You owe me royalties”. Instead of ignoring this, you stopped and enquired why. She informed you that her name was Fleur and that by mentioning this magic word (and terrible name), you should fork over some money. You then replied “Well if I’m going to have to pay you, then I better get my monies worth” and then proceeded to improvise a series of fairly good songs mocking this, by now, very regretful amateur comic. My personal favourite lyric was ‘It all revolves around you Fleur/It all revolves around you./You shouldn’t have brought it up Fleur/You shouldn’t have brought it up’ (sung whilst running around your microphone stand).
This sort of behaviour by another performer could have been seen as nasty or bitter, but you carried it off with such genuine enjoyment that after about a minute her large group of friends were in tears of laughter and attentively listened to the rest of the performance, now totally engaged. Fleur left in appropriate disgrace when you started up ‘Fleur:The B Side’ and the show continued.
Myself and the people I had come to the gig with we blown away by this and still reference this whenever the subject of hecklers is raised. This story is yet to be topped by anyone I have told it to. I have no idea if you remember this gig, but if you have forgotten I hope this triggers the memory.
At the end of the show you mentioned that you had CD’s for sale-we bought the CD and although we had enjoyed your music, this probably wouldn’t have happened if the Fleur thing hadn’t taken place. This is a prime example of winning the audience AND selling them products they didn’t plan on buying. Please continue doing this type of alchemy, you’re a genuine (mostly) underground star.
Thanks for remembering this. I have mostly forgotten it. Lost in the fug of my mid-20’s memories. (They say we can’t remember being babies because it was so traumatic our brains have blocked it out…that’s how I feel about my early to mid-20’s). I take your jewel of praise and use it to power myself further towards semi-genuine cult-status.