Did you actually read that?
WE HAVE A BAND FOR WONDERLAND AT WOODFORD FOLK FESTIVAL!
I cannot believe it is happening – especially in light of the fact that the show itself is indeed about wonderful things happening – but in the past week, I have somehow managed to join forces with a drummer/guitarist, bass guitarist, saxophonist and keyboardist to do some musical comedy numbers AND improvised songs as part of the Wonderland show!
Excuse me while I geek out for a moment.
That these people are blisteringly talented individuals is a godsend. That they are all hilarious and awesome and nice and bloody great to work with PLUS I get to share the show with them AND Betty and the Betties, some of my favourite ladies on earth, well seriously…whatever happens, for me selfishly, THIS SHOW IS A DREAM COME TRUE.
I’ve honestly always wanted a band to do improv and comedy and jamming stuff with onstage but it seemed so “pie in the sky” ish that I never took it seriously enough to make it happen. But now it’s just fallen into place and I’m completely losing my mind about it with excitement.
After brainstorming last night with a couple of the gang after our Betties rehearsal, I was so inspired I stayed up way into the wee hours and wrote and wrote and wrote. It was honestly like I was possessed by some force telling me to not dare stop in case I woke up in the morning and the well was dry. This has NEVER happened to me before. I lost all track of time. I think it must have been three that I finally caved in and slept. I sure feel it now. BUT…I have a show!
Now to tweak, polish, rehearse AND finish writing that one pesky closing number.
I cannot wait to perform it though, and whenever I’ve felt like that about a new song/bit or whatever, like I am literally ITCHING to get up onstage and share it with the world, it’s been a good thing.
Not many sleeps now!
P.S. We have only 6 days left on our pozible campaign and I have the stomach ulcer to show for it. A few folks have told me they’re a bit confused by what this pozible business actually is! Honestly, the easiest way to wrap your head around it is to go to our page on the site, but the Reader’s Digest version is this:
- it’s not a donation site, you don’t “donate” anything (because we aren’t a charity!), rather it’s about pre-buying goods and services (like tickets to our early 2013 shows both in Brissie and Adelaide, DVDs, merch, etc.) so that we can afford to do the project (which in this case, involves us touring Wonderland to Adelaide Fringe!)
- if you go onto the site, you’ll see the different prices of everything you can get. For instance, pledging $30 will get you a DVD, $50 a DVD plus show ticket, right up to a $2000 business package!
- we don’t get ONE CENT of the money pledged unless our campaign is successful. Your pledge is not processed (i.e. your card isn’t charged) until we are successful, which, touch wood, will be in six days time!) We are currently at $3320 of our $5000 goal. If we don’t make it, we get nothing.
Hope that makes sense!
This is Percy. At 97, he is – I am told – the most elderly deaf person in Australia. (I suppose I should qualify that by saying that I mean he has grown up deaf and using sign language, rather than losing their hearing in old age.)
What a guy.
The other night, I had the great honour of performing some comedy at the ASLIA Queensland awards night, a celebratory occasion for interpreters and the deaf community. It was such a great vibe, lots of laughter, wine flowing, a funky photo booth resplendent with rocking props (why have I not thought of this before? Note to self: install one in the lounge) and of course, signing galore!
It was when I was onstage – with my beloved interpreting partner-in-crime Ruth Sullivan – and surveyed the audience to discover who’d been married for the longest that I “met” Percy. He and his wife were together for…get this: 70 years.
A new record! For my comedy surveys thus far, if not for marriage itself!
When I asked how they met, he began signing from the audience, only as it was difficult for him to be seen from there – and thus, understood – he was assisted to come up onto the stage, where he took a seat and proceeded to tell us all virtually the entire story of their life together!
While it took up a lot more stage time than I would normally ever want an audience member to take charge of, I truly felt this moment was something important. To have this gentleman at such an occasion open his heart up, in the spotlight, with an attentive audience, at the age of ninety-seven years old…he told of how as a young chap he’d been a total flirt, always having girls on each arm, in fact, he’d had no less than twenty-seven girlfriends (27!), never being serious about any of them. Then one night in South Brisbane, he went to a dance and there across the room, stood this beautiful girl. He was instantly besotted. Her name was Nelly.
It was around this point that my heart melted.
He then told the audience of how after seventy years of marriage, she very sadly passed away.
It was at this point he left the stage for me to make up a comedy song.
I called it “Number Twenty-Eight.”
He loved it.
Afterwards when we chatted – thanks to a very attentive interpreter who saw me struggling to try to understand Percy’s signs (given that the only ones I do know are “thank you”, “hello”, “f*** you”, my contributions to any conversation are limited, if not passionate), and ran to my rescue!
He told me that they had a very happy marriage, that they very rarely fought because they respected each other, and that he was very sad when she died and he misses her but they had a wonderful life together. He showed me a photo of her that was in his wallet. I felt truly, truly honoured and moved.
Then he said this: “No matter where we went, we went together. If we went to Adelaide, we went together. If we went to Melbourne, we went together. We were always together.”
I really felt like I was being prophesied to.
One thing Tim and I have been mulling over this year is how to do just that: to stay together.
And I think the answer for us lies in Percy’s words: to stay together. Physically.
Which is a huge challenge for us, when the hard reality of this business I’ve signed myself up for (which I LOVE), is that you have to travel to do the work.
So we’ve gotta work on either how to do the travelling together, or how to re-design the career stuff so that I can build my little comedy empire from home.
It sure is nice to think that Tim might speak of me one day with the same fondness, tenderness and love that Percy summoned up when speaking of his Nelly.
At this point it’s probably more likely he’d speak with exhaustion. Assuming of course, that I haven’t burned him out so badly he can barely talk.
We can always get him a bell.
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.
My sister Ang is a musician (an AMAZING singer) and as of the past couple of years, a fellow mama. These days we make an effort to hang out at least once a week with our little bubs in tow, hers being a little more little than mine.
This week, however, we did something we should have done eons ago.
Upon spying a library book hanging out at my piano – as our household library books tend to do, for some reason – called “1000 Songwriting Ideas”, Ang picked it up and started reading out some of the prompts. Between managing toddler meltdowns, baby feeds and dirty dishes, we proceeded to brainstorm, laugh and come up with ideas for songs we could each develop from there. Specifically, we put PEN TO PAPER…and came up with the idea of the musical equivalent to a writers’ group. That is to say, each week when we meet up, we need to set ourselves a goal to achieve for the following week, and present it to each other, to keep each other accountable, at the following “meeting.”
I’m so excited about this, as Ang really is one of my muses in this life. I have spent the better portion of my years trying to make her laugh, you see. She gets me. She is my ideal audience member. So to know that each week I’ve got her to entertain, is a great carrot to haul me off my butt and towards my goal of coming up with a stream of new comedy songs in time for Woodford Folk Fest in December.
Plus…I write much better stuff when I actually have an audience to perform it immediately to. I’m a ham like that. So lazy in rehearsals. I really need to have somebody there to entertain, even if it’s just in a workshop setting, even if it’s just ONE person, like in our writers’ group, I need that part of the equation to motivate me.
So here’s to more sisterly time with the added bonus of some creative stuff a-happening as a by-product.
As well as cute photos of our respective little’uns hanging out.
Night two. With Melbourne weeping like a postnatal mother last night, I was bracing myself to perform for an audience of three. But oh ye of little faith. SIX! Six audience members, I tell you! I am moving UP! They were delish. I wanted to smother them in chocolate and nibble on their lobes. We had a grand time together, even when my radio mic attachment commenced a dance with gravity down my tights mid-show. My recovery efforts brought new meaning to the term “an intimate audience.”
Then, at the end, the “Sexy Six”, as they shall now be forever known, blessed me with a standing ovation. I was so over the moon about it that I asked them if they’d mind waiting til I got my phone from backstage to take a photo. And thus, it was re-created!
But it ain’t all the performer’s dream of six bums on seats, baby.
Today my poor little man, who has unfortunately come down with a little headcold, accompanied me on a tear and tantrum riddled (with occasional glimpses of lovely) outing to Brunswick. (Where, incidentally, I used to live many moons ago when Miss 8 was just a wee babe.)
Fortunately the library turned out to be the winning ticket, we arrived just in time for the end of storytime, followed by butterfly making. Which of course, Cassidy was all over. For exactly two minutes and fourteen seconds.
I got to sneek a peek into some op shops (sadly, pouncing on bag sales is just not in the budget this year!) but I couldn’t help looking. And drooling. And drooling. I’m sorry Melbourne. I have now marked my territory. Just thank your lucky stars I chose the right end to do it from.
As I type this I am trying to oversee, with very little success, Mister 2′s nap-time, my persistence in this mission only due to the selfish knowledge that it could equal nap-time for me.
Last night was Opening Night of “The Unexpected Variety Show” at Melbourne Fringe and it was BEWDIFUL.
Seriously lovely crowd, very full of smiles and laughs which makes the show umpteen times more easy and fun to do. The word suggestion for last night’s improv song (if I haven’t already told you, before the show the audience writes down words into a suggestion bucket for one of my characters to choose from to create a spontaneous song mid-show) was “testicles.” As my character, Beatta, said, drawing said suggestion out, “There’s always one, isn’t there? Or is that two?”
Only one person laughed.
Or is that two?
Sorry, joke is clearly not working, I must let it go now…faretheewell.
Post-show I caught up with some rocking folks, including the very awesome, hilairs-balls and lovely Tim Ferguson (above), who suggested I start working on my next show now (I already have an idea in mind…) and, well, I won’t say too much in case I jinx it but there are exciting possibilities around. AGH! Also caught up with my beautiful-in-every-way friend and co-producer Rachel who brought me my first show flower (a toy one, a very wise move given the life expectancy of any actual flora in my household), wondrous Bec who brought me champers plus a LEGO set for my son!!!!!) and some fabooshy mummy bloggers who came, saw and posted!
Some beautiful things are being said about the show:
A couple of lovely folks blogged about it too. Check out Diary of a Mad Cow and A Green Cow‘s reviews. BTW, though both bloggers end in “Cow”, they are not related as far as I am aware. Do I simply appeal to the lactating market? And if so, any breastpump companies out there wanna sponsor me?
I am so incredibly chuffed. Especially when given that this time yesterday I was trying to convince my toddler to pick himself up from his face-down tantrum sprawl on Flinders Street (true), with my eyeballs hanging out of my head with fatigue and questioning the wisdom of actually attempting to do a 2-week festival stint like this, well…I guess I’m saying that to actually receive this lovely feedback that it’s connecting with people just really does make it feel like the difficulties are WORTH IT!
Oh Melbourne. How I heart thee.
Firstly, cos my fringe run is off to a most rocking start. Secondly, because you have op shop displays like this.
Tech run today. Happy times. Started off with Mister Two making himself well at home in the theatre. Hey, he has been onstage since he was a foetus, so I guess it makes sense.
The space at Revolt Melbourne is UNBE-FREAKING-LIEVABLE. Seriously. Agh. I am going to do my darndest to do a video tour of it just to share some with you, it is better than robot space-cake.
Then a slight technical hitch in the form of my planned piano for the run not working out after all. The beyond amaze-balls Rebecca from A Green Cow (who, I must add, has displayed stunning friendship without having ever even met me in real life! I mention this as I have been musing greatly lately over the difference between “friends” and “acquaintances”,) promptly did her darndest to help find me a suitable replacement. I felt most loved.
Tech runs, in-house photography, a quick phone interview with a local paper (they’re taking a pic tomoz of me, Cassidy and the puppet = a craze-a-tois) followed by a phonecall that made me do a happy dance: wonderful Allan’s Music + Billy Hyde saying they would provide me with a most faboosh keyboard for the show run. What can I say? Beyond thrilled. You will have to excuse me as I bestow my thanks upon them with shameless mentions here on CM. I am so grateful I am just full of great!
The journo today asked me what it was like having my toddler with me while I try to stage a show. Day two and a night away from the opening show of the fest, I can say this: it’s exhausting (not that I didn’t think it wouldn’t be.) But, I get cuddles!
*Note: realising the above paragraph is so lacking in insight or wit that I just want to plead it as a brilliant demonstration of the fatigue of which said paragraph mentioned. Next.
In other news, this made my day.
So happy. And exhausted. Opening night tomorrow! AGH! TO BED!
And so it begins!
(Damn I love quoting Gandalf).
Here’s the first song so far, inspired by the lovely Allison who suggested the word “rainbows”. I had a lot of fun creating it; it was all quite fast, mad and furious, what with my kids doing their pre-bedtime thing and all and trying to get a bit of shoosh for two minutes to record it. Silly me for choosing rat-hour to record. Ah me.
(My daughter filmed this, by the way. Jawsome, yes?! I do hope that means she’s now tax deductible.)
Thanks so much for you beautiful people for helping me spread the word! More songs are a-coming.
For those of you new to the game, welcome! If you’d like to suggest a song for me to create, all you gotta do is jump onboard the team and help get the word out about my upcoming Melbourne Fringe show. Deets are over here.
Lots of big love and Rainbow Brite dolls,
As you read this, please imagine me down on one knee, a gentle breeze blowing through my locks and a sweet milkmaid playing a harp in the corner.
Dear darling friends,
In one short week I shall be taking my one and only solo show “The Unexpected Variety Show” down to Melbourne Fringe Festival. AGH! As you may know, I am rather nervous about getting bits of buttocks on bits of chair.
Please, pretty please, would you be part of Team Unexpected and help me? If so, I will not only jump for joy but I will jump TWICE! Once for me and once for all of you! Not only that, but in celebration of our success, I shall write a song inspired by your suggestion.
If you help get the word out in any of the ways below, you can email me with an idea for a song. It can be one word or a full title. And during and after the fringe festival, I shall write these songs, film them and post them right here online. My deadline is the end of October.
There it is. In writing. 2 people help me = 2 songs. 50 people help me = Jenny has a creative heart attack (and/or there may be some songs combining multiple suggestions!). Either way, shall be at least mildly entertaining. Are you in?!
WAYS TO BE A PART OF TEAM UNEXPECTED:
- send an email about the show to like-minded folks;
- write a quick mention in your Facebook status update. Personally, I love the creative/commanding ones:
- tweet about it. If you use the tags @melbournefringe or #mfringe I will even ding a bell somewhere in your honour.
For your use: here is the link to the official show page on Melbourne Fringe Fest’s website:http://www.melbournefringe.com.au/fringe-festival/show/the-unexpected-variety-show
If you know anybody in Melbourne:
- please invite them to come see the show. Bribe them or trick them if you must. Tell them Robbie Williams is doing a secret gig. In drag. Singing none of Robbie Williams’ songs. The show is called “The Unexpected Variety Show” so as they will not be getting their “expected” Robbie, you will technically not be lying.
If you are in Melbourne:
- please come! I’d love to see you there! Especially in the first week when I am convinced it is gonna be otherwise empty and I will feel like a great big dork. Well, you know. A greater, bigger dork. And pretty please hang around after to say hi so I can cuddle you in a glorious, platonic yet super-loving fashion.
If you have seen the show and enjoyed it:
- please write a quick review on my facebook page (or if you’d prefer, you can email it to me). This is so so so valuable as it’s one thing for me to spruik my wares, but what audiences actually think matters umpteen times more. I know, right? Cra-zeeee
Thanks so much for listening, reading and/or helping. Actually,the first two equal the third anyway. What can I say?
Love lifts us up where we belong. Go TEAM!
Yours with love and lollypops,
The Unexpected Variety Show
Melbourne Fringe Festival
12 Elizabeth Street, Kensington
27 September – 9 October
Tues-Sat 7.30pm (60 minutes) Sun 4.30pm
Full: $20, Concession: $15
Book: 03 9660 9666