Monthly Archives: February 2012
Top Moments Thus Far (or specifically, of the Past 24 Hours):
1. The Kindness of Strangers/Audience Members
2. Jen Brister’s “Now and Then.”
Jen is completely hilarious and utterly deserving of packed houses and then some. Last night’s crowd was small but hugely appreciative of this lady’s talents. She is playing at Mansions on Pultney Street, only a couple of blocks away from the Garden. Please do go see her!!! She is all sorts of jawsome. I promise.
I first heard about Abandoman – an improvised hip-hop show – from Jason Chong at the Festival Fishbowl and knew that missing it was simply not an option. Improv. Hip-hop. One-man. YES! Oh my word. I really couldn’t wax more lyrically about this show. As you know, I am madly in love with musical improv, but the pace at which he did his thing was mind-boggling. By the end, my brain was hurting. So ridiculously good, I believe he only has 6 shows left, DO NOT MISS THIS!
4. Listening to My Gutty Gut Gut!
I was literally walking out of the Garden post-Abandoman, ready to do the sensible thing and get a good night’s sleep, but something in my gut wouldn’t let me.
“Turn back, Jenny,” said a voice, in a magical utterance not unlike something out of Labyrinth.
“No,” said sensible Jenny. “I need to look after my body!”
“Listen!” said the magical utterance. “Forget the body, you’ve neglected it this long, what’s one more night? Now, turn around and walk right back before I am forced to bring David Bowie into this.”
Within minutes I was chatting to the lovely Rob Broderick (aka Abandoman) himself and several more minutes later he, Markus Birdman and I headed over to the Artists Bar. We chatted Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where, after some very lovely cheer-leadingish encouragement from Rob, some good things happened. Mysterious cape swishing. Top night. I rocked off into the evening humming “Dance, Magic Dance.”
5. Arriving Home to My First 5-Star Review.
This is a wonderfully sparkling gem, with Ms. Wynter wowing her audience…her mimicry of various singing and theatrical styles, her friendly persona and her beautifully handled touches of pathos…There is one problem: the hour long show flows so well that it seems like half an hour – let this variety show go on and on and on.”
Adelaide Theatre Guide. Full review here.
Things are going so well, the kids are settled (we had a gorgeous if not extremely wet day yesterday at the aquatic centre), hubby and my Mister 7 are doing fantastically at home…I keep waiting for something to go horribly wrong. I hope I can just chill the heck out and enjoy this crazy ride for what it is! Thank you for sharing it with me.
As I was heading into the Light Hotel this avo to get ready for my show, I heard some news that rocked me.
A family member – a distant family member, but one whom I have extremely positive memories of from childhood – died. I was so shocked, not just by the news itself, but also by how very upset I felt about it. And selfishly, I was also more than a little worried about being cool by the time the curtain rose, so to speak.
For…upset or not, the show must go on.
I have had to perform before under circumstances where I was deeply sad but still needed to make people laugh. It was two days after my friend Chris Daniel had died and I was flown down to Sydney to perform in a filmed comedy spot. Prior to Chris’ sudden passing, I was elated thinking about this gig. But after, I was terrified I was going to get onstage and completely lose it. I didn’t. But looking at the footage of that show afterwards, I could see the sadness on my face. And it was one of the best gigs I ever did. Because…I just didn’t give a shit about it anymore.
Tonight was my first ever sold-out show; again, a gig I was completely over the moon about prior to hearing about my family’s loss. Only after? Well, it wasn’t that I didn’t care as such, but in processing the news, it certainly put everything in perspective again.
Really. This does not matter. How tonight goes, whether there are reviewers, audience members, promoters, whatever. In the grand scheme of things, it does not matter.
The people you love matter.
Please allow me my cheesy musings.
Earlier today, during an appearance on the Festival Fishbowl online show (which seriously made me want to make an online show so badly. Just add it to the to-do list, imaginary PA Beryl!) Sam Simmons made some comments about not caring about comedy that really unnerved me.
When he asked me why, I told him I thought it was because I had gotten to that place of not caring (post car crash especially), but then when things started going well the caring started to creep back in…listening to him go on about it made me wonder whether I was now at a point where I was actually caring too much all over again. About the wrong things, that is.
But after this afternoon?
I think I’m all good.
Adelaide Fringe Festival Tour Diary: Improv, Sheer Loveliness, the Mayor of Salisbury and the Guilt/Blisters Combo
Today was a little nuts, in theme with the rest of the festival itinerary thus far. I’m so happy that things are calming down HUGELY as of tomorrow, as despite the fact the kids are travelling with me, these past few days have been so busy that we’ve hardly had any time together. I MISS THEM! Tomorrow is all about them, baby and I truly cannot wait. Hence, I am blogging right now before bed-time. No work tomoz! (Well, okay, one gig at Gluttony in the early evening, but I may well bring them along as my roadies.)
- doing the Fringe Caravan stage again, where my improv song was for a woman who was a “decor consultant” and her partner, a “fitter and turner”, neither of which I still have any inkling as to what they actually entail). I have to say, I thought my brain was particularly slow on this one. The song was okay, but I think sleep deprivation plus the shocking heat of late have seriously stalled my synapses somewhat. No excuses – except for those ones I just wrote – but yes. Upward and onward!
- being part of the fabulous “Theatresports: Clash of the Titans!” show. The show itself was just fantastic (I’ll be doing a number more of these throughout the fringe, woohoo!). I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED my team, which is a huge relief as I literally walked straight from the Fringe Caravan into the greenroom for the improv show to meet my team-mates for the very first time. Such top guys, so much fun! Our scenes included a dentist cracking onto an abscess-riddled patient in Rockhampton, a historical journey through time set in the Bermuda Triangle concluding with me being sacrificed in a Mayan ritual, improvising a musical “fly on the wall” account of K-Rudd and Julia’s secret love affair and re-enacting the pre-wedding jitters of a highly cheery audience member. We came in second place, the winners being the incredible Sound and Furys direct from LA. These guys are hilarious and they have a fringe show at Gluttony which I’ve only heard good things about!
At some point I texted my friend Jade to beg for an afternoon stop-in at her place for a little “recovery nap”. She was not only obliging, but proceeded to pick up some solid cardboard, fix up the easel and sort out a smoother running plan for tonight’s “Unexpected” show. (Anybody who saw the gong-show that was my opening night’s final portion will appreciate why that was so very needed!)
This is not the only reason I love her. She also has rad fingernails.
Then, it was off to the Light Hotel for my show!
Nearly packed house, GORGEOUS audience and things ran much more smoothly tonight, so so happy!
I floated off to do a guest cabaret spot at La Boheme; I thought I’d do a backing CD of one of the songs from my show, but then the wondrous pianist (oh goodness, his name??!?!) said he was happy to play it if I could just write out the chord chart. So I hopped to, he hopped in and together we hopped onstage and made sweet musical moments. It’s a song I’ve been performing for so long, but never to a live accompanist. It brought out something so different in the piece, I felt for a moment I was performing some bizarre brand of gothic vaudeville. SO FUN.
Then I traipsed over to Radio Adelaide for an interview on Radio Notes, where I was stunned into a smiling fit of shock upon having presenter John Murch kick off our interview by hitting “play” on an interview he’d done that very afternoon with the MAYOR OF SALISBURY about the SONG I IMPROVISED FOR HER LAST NIGHT! Can you believe that?!!!
He also showed me this nugget of jawsome; I’d heard through twitter that my show had been included in this feature but had yet to actually see it:
Also got this post on my Facebook wall…
And found out that my next “Unexpected” show at the Fringe is 7 seats away from SOLD OUT. Oh my.
As much as I’m piffling on about how brilliant everything is and tra la la, let me also say for the record that on the down-side:
- I have been pining for my kids so severely. Did I already write that? Yes? Well there you go. I feel bad because I know that it’s tough on them to have me being so busy right upfront of the trip and besides that, I just WANT TO BE WITH THEM! I adore them (and the nature of being separated from your pint-sized brood makes you blind to their challenging aspects). But, as I said to Miss 9 yesterday, at least we’re getting the hard yards out of the way. The rest of the fest (with the exception of one or two days) should be much more chilled with time to actually hang out and enjoy some Adelaide kids-style!
- I have the biggest blister of my life on my little toe right now and my back hurts.
On day two of the Adelaide Fringe, I feel as though I’ve psyched myself up for months to run a marathon, only to venture fifty metres into the race and find to my horror that already my legs are tired! The ever-lovely Francesca Martinez told me last night that her first full festival experience was the same, but just to relax and know that I will hit my groove and that in future, it won’t be such a shock!
I am exhausted.
Things are going beautifully, however, so it’s a happy and mildly delirious exhaustion.
- a last minute scavenger hunt across the city to find a quite major show prop. My dear friends had already organised it for me, only to have their car break down yesterday and as they live quite a way away, and I am car-less, it was the stuff of mild heart attacks. Luckily Deb, a recent friend I have made down here, swung into action, carting me around on an op shop tour of Adelaide…when we had no luck, she just said “Well! I’ll just drive out to them then!” and off she went. Superheroes are helping me out so much down here, allowing me to fulfil yet another personal dream to play Lois Lane.
- doing a short musical comedy set at the “Caravan Fringe in the Mall” stage. Despite the fact I was chuckling at myself for my ridiculous decision to insert another gig (a good walk from my venue, no less) right in the middle of my TECH RUN (mama, mia, what is my problem?!) it was rather delicious, not the least reason of which is my kids were there! My little man yelled out a couple of times but overall was quite a sedate heckler, so I went easy on him. Plus he’s just so damn cute.
- Opening night of “An Unexpected Variety Show!” Having offered free tix was always a risky idea, I knew that…but I was delighted to have a packed room of lovely folks who laughed in the right places and said nice things and stuff. The major hiccup of the night was that poor Matthew Carey couldn’t see the sheet music because of the lights! And even Matthew, genius as he is, lacks the ‘see in the dark’ superpower, so we had a few rather “different” sounding chord combos last night! I guess in some ways that’s kinda the beauty of the show; if anything goes wrong it fits in perfectly with the theme. I’m going with that, anyway.
- More late night gigging with wonderful Titters – seriously these shows are SMASHING IT UP. The venue is plush, the line-up is just amazing – and I would say that even if I wasn’t in it, which is saying a lot! – really, really REALLY recommend this show!
I improvised a song for a couple in the front who’d been married for 45 years! When I asked them what they did, the lady said “You don’t want to know.”
I said, “Yes I do!”
She sighed and said, “I’m the mayor of Salisbury.”
I would put this in context for non-Adelaide readers, however I don’t wish to in any way put my darling Mayor lady in any negative light (she was beautiful) so you’ll just have to use either a) your imagination or b) google. Either way, trust me. It’s funny.
- Then off more late night cabaret action with the luscious lot over at Shimmering Square.
This time I made up a song about a couple, who, as it turns out, were both glass blowers. It was a hip-hop track that went so quickly I honestly don’t remember a whole lot about it apart from some glass-themed innuendo and something about creating an array of fragile glass babies together.
Then I collapsed.
P.S. Best back-handed compliments of the night on my show:
Dude 1: (talking about seeing my show) “I didn’t walk out.”
Dude 2: “More improv songs, more improv songs!”
Me: “That would make for a very long show.”
Dude 2: “Nah, just cut out the other songs.”
Oh, you mean the ones I’ve laboured over for months? Yes those.
Fringe Caravan in the Mall
2012 Theatresports Clash of the Theatre Titans
An Unexpected Variety Show: FREE TIX TONIGHT AT THE DOOR!
7pm, The Light Hotel
8.30, La Boheme
Radio Adelaide interview
Early to bed. Yes.
I say “nights” because while technically, last night was the Opening Night of the Fringe, as I type this, my own opening night looms before me. Tonight! AGH! I keep writing that: “agh!” every time I mention this event, even though I cringe at my inability to come up with something with a little more zing. But “agh!” truly does sum it up. It is a scream of excitement, terror, nerves, more excitement and a little bit of childish self-expression. Agh!
This morning also brings with it an alarming number of last-minute things on the to-do list, not the least of which is manufacture one of the quite significant props! Doh. I have a feeling that all will come okay in the end, in no short part due to the quite extensive array of beautiful people who have come to my rescue this week in many ways. From finding props, lending me keyboards, collecting set pieces and offering car transport here and there, this certainly ain’t a one-woman show. Well, it is a one-woman show, but it ain’t a one-woman…okay, you get it.
Last night was delish if not exhausting on the feet. Adelaide seems so much bigger than during my last visits, possibly because I walked almost half of it last night, traipsing from gig to gig.
Much, much fun, the main struggle was stopping my face from melting, given the heat yesterday felt like Adelaide had turned into one giant menopausal woman.
In the absence of a mirror, I turned to my trusty darling iPhone to help treat my face like the palate of colour that it should be in such times of shameless strutting. Just another friendly “touring on a budget” tip.
I dunno, if it’s this hot again, I might just forego the makeup altogether. This was seconds before going onstage, upon which my entire face turned into a dripping puddle.
The last gig, a gorgeous late night open-air cabaret at Shimmering West (right opposite my show venue at the Light Hotel) was particularly beautiful. I think by this time, exhaustion and a birthday cider had worked their magic and put me into quite a lovely, if not a little fuzzy, headspace. The Adelaidian cabaret treasure Matthew Carey (I know he refuses to speak to you if you do not address him in precisely those terms) told me, to my delight, that he was right up for improvising a number, and so we did. It was for a delightful couple (disclaimer: many people look delightful from the stage, they did, however, buy me a beer after so I do have a strengthening case) called Martin and Alana, both youth workers and with four kids between them no less.
All I recall from that song is something like:
“…four kids later, she’s falling to pieces, all the little pieces of her utereeses, but Martin doesn’t care because he just loves her to pieces…”
It was late.
Then, in true rock’n'roll style, Mister Matthew Carey and I set forth for a midnight rehearsal session for tonight’s show. I am THRILLED AND AWED to have him playing keys in my show; the man has worked with Liza Minnelli for crying out loud. Here I go again: AGH!
I’m so beyond excited. And so beyond needing to get my butt away from this here wonderland of cyber-sharing and go get ready.
See ya on the other side!
Fringe Caravan in the Mall
4.50pm, Rundle Mall
An Unexpected Variety Show: Opening Night! FREEEEEE!!!!!!
7pm, the Light Hotel, 141 Currie Street
Titters: An Award Winning LineUp of Funny Women
8.30pm at Ambassadors Hotel
Late Night Lounge with Catherine Campbell and Charlie Sanders
10pm – 12pm at Shimmering West, Higher Ground
If you’re one of these folks with an appetite for sympathetic glances from strangers, then might I introduce you to the wonders of travelling as a solo parent with a small child? Well, I chose to interpret them as ‘sympathetic glances’ rather than ‘snarls of disapproval’; indeed, as Mister Three was throwing a mighty fit, kicking his shoes off while I struggled to wrangle a mildly ridiculous array of luggage and his pram in the sizeable taxi queue, I believe I actually uttered the words: “Well, Adelaide, this should all be smooth sailing from here!”
After getting the brood settled at our fab homely digs (bit out of the city, but it’s a damn perfect set-up for us, so so happy!) with my lovely au-pair Keli (first time I have ever enjoyed the wonders of an au-pair, she is freaking FABULOUS, so much so that I may never let her go!) I set off into the city for an interview with a student newspaper. I have no idea what I said, only that it was long-winded and a little “off on tangents” oriented, such was my mini-jet lag at having risen at 4am – martyrdom again, HELLO! – to catch that damn jet plane.
Then it was off to Titters for a truly rocking start to my Fringe ride, for a number of reasons:
- reuniting with some of my favourite people whom I met at my brief stint at last year’s Titters! Seriously love these ladies so much. Francesca Martinez, Jen Brister, Jodie Hill, Bev Killick…it was like the world’s smallest and bestest school reunion!
- having the pleasure of being introduced to a local vocal quartet Hot Tutti, an incredible group of women whose stuff was SERIOUSLY amazing, with lyrics like “don’t diss my ability” and a heart-wrenching song about rising above the voices of the schoolyard taunts. I’m definitely gonna be checking out their fringe show. So good!
- making the call to abandon my “safe, known” stuff onstage and just make up a song instead. I was so happy I did this at Woodford, yet for some reason (possibly from the overwhelm of how many gigs I have lined up in this marathon month!) I had decided to go back to my old “material that I know works” thing. Then I thought, “what the heck am I doing? This is FRINGE!!!!!! I should be throwing myself on the creative coals!” and so wound up making up a song about a lovely couple called Bob, who works in the mining industry, and Fran, who is a career coach. What ensued was a small and soothing ditty with lyrics such as:
“Oh my darling Bob,
Come over here,
Even if I can’t give you love,
I can help with your career.”
“Oh my Fran,
I’ll woo you with fine dining,
And then you can chat about my career,
Which, by the way, is mining…”
Oh, the layers of meaning…
Anyway, this has also inspired me to try to remember some of the songs I make up onstage throughout this fest by way of blogging a little bit about them, namely because most of the time I just make these things up and POOF, they’re gone.
I should mention at this point that today, Opening Night of the Adelaide Fringe Festival, was, 33 years ago, an Opening Night of another kind…my appearance into this fair world.
Happy birthday to moi!
We’ve been so busy – and cash-strapped – with the preps, that we had really agreed upon a pretty low-key thing this year; the real present is just being able to come and be part of this mad roller coaster experience anyway.
But then, the night before I set off, my darling hubby and the kids said to me “Mum! Close your eyes and then come into the bathroom!” Never one to shy away from a bizarre and highly impractical command, I did so, and was greeted with this:
Then my heart exploded.
Cut to this morning, and this ole birthday girl rolled out of bed, dreaming of cake. No really. I even facebooked about it, so it must be true.
Then I walked out into the kitchen, to cries of “Mum, Mum! Wait!” and then was greeted with this:
I am one spoiled mother. (I mean that in more ways than one.)
All 33 years of me.
Tonight’s Adelaide Fringe Gigs!
6pm at Gluttony
Amuse Bouche – Talk Show guest
8pm at Gluttony: SOLD OUT
Titters: An Award Winning LineUp of Funny Women
10pm at Ambassadors Hotel
Late Night Lounge with Catherine Campbell and Charlie Sanders
10pm – 12pm at Shimmering West, Higher Ground
I wouldn’t be about to even embark on this mad adventure were it not for many, MANY different people helping me along the way, not the least of which is this wonderful wacky woman before you, Ms Liz Skitch.
Post-car crash, while I’d been easing my way back onto the stage, Liz really is the one who got me not just back on the comedy horse, but through her generosity, back on a horse that was even bigger, greater and friendlier than the one I’d started with. For Lizzie was the one who urged me to attend – and then hooked it up so that I was invited to perform a few guest spots at – last year’s one and only Adelaide Fringe Festival.
Without her, I wouldn’t have gone. I wouldn’t have been introduced to Sheridan Stewart, the dynamo of awesome who runs Titters (where I’m thrilled to be performing all Fringe this year as well). I also wouldn’t have discovered the fabulous Cabaret Fringe Festival, where Liz urged me to put my show on, in a run that wound up being the Aussie launch of the rough version of “An Unexpected Variety Show”, gave me some lovely reviews and a bit of press to get the ball a-rolling. Indeed, Liz was even the one who encouraged me to think about myself as being part of the cabaret world. I am indebted to her.
I just find this woman incredibly inspiring: I truly hope that I can be like her, to be wide open to sharing opportunities, offering encouragement and finding joy in helping to lift other people up, rather than the alternative (which I have certainly been privy to in my short career) of holding all your cards close to your chest in the fear that one person’s opportunity means one less for you.
Liz, you are a most rocking lady and whatever happens from here I am so grateful for your open, joyous heart and for being a true performing friend. I wouldn’t be here without you!
Huzzah for the generous rockstars in this life. The world would suck buttocks without you.
Three more sleeps.
I feel like an astronaut about to launch into space, wondering whether he/she’s going to return to triumphant applause, a controversy about whether the ins and outs of the expedition actually occurred and/or possibly their own theme tune.
In reality, what I am undertaking is not nearly as dramatic as all this, but THAT WILL NOT STOP ME PRETENDING IT IS.
Part of the reason it feels so epic to be finally unleashing my show upon several cities in a few short months, is because it’s been so damn long coming. As those of you who’ve been reading along for a while will know, I was all set to present the show at Melbourne Comedy Festival 2010, when a lil thing known as a car accident got in the way.
Fast forward two years and it’s a-happening all over again but this time, nothing is stopping me. Except…well, you know, maybe another car accident…but no! No, not even that! For this is the new and improved post car-crash Jen, one who laughs in the face of obstacles, one who grabs a neck brace and quickly superglues to it feathers, sequins and a bugger-off image of Dolly Parton. I WILL NOT BE STOPPED.
Did I mention I’m on a very good multi-vitamin?
Anyway, at the latest count I am now doing FIFTY-THREE gigs during the Fringe. Every time I freak out I just pretend I’m The Rock.
He’s terrifying, yet motivating.
I think he’d be a great parent.