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!
At the risk of sounding like the nutbag of fatigued emotion that I am right now, let me tell you that while the performances have been lovely, I’ve been soaking up the sights of Melbourne and enjoying a number of most excellent comedy shows, it’s all through a rather pathetic lens of “I CANNOT STOP THINKING ABOUT HOW MUCH I MISS THE KIDS.”
I had a dream the other night that I was cuddling them all in my bed, then I woke up and realised they weren’t there. They weren’t even close to there. And it’s my choice to come here that’s put us in this predicament.
While I feel extremely lucky on the one hand to have the practical ease that comes with travelling solo, my heart feels like it’s being shredded. They themselves are fine. My hubby is doing a stellar job, we have some extra help in the home front to keep the cupboard full, the house clean and the lunches packed, the kids are doing great, it’s just I have really realised so fully how much I hate being separated. HATE it.
Ugh. End of vent.
On the upside I went to one of my favourite shows of the fest so far last night, The Horne Section.
If you are in Melbourne and are able, you MUST MUST MUST see this! Described on their site as “part improvised, part honed, part performance, part party,” it’s a jazz/comedy group who improvise musical comedy, turn an audience member into the star of each show, spin a giant wheel to determine what segment will appear that night and invite guest comics on the stage to perform a piece for which the band provides musical/sound effect backing.
At the end of it I felt like a little kid who’s just witnessed their calling, pointing a helpless finger at the stage and whispering to nobody in particular: “I want to do THAT.”
The fact it’s at the Spiegeltent is just the icing on the comedy cake.
It cheered me up immensely.
Yesterday we took the troops up to Hahndorf, a super cute German town just outside of Adelaide. We’ve been averaging one excursion out of the house each day which thus far, has been perfect.
On this particular day however, Mister Three – and in all honesty, Mummy too – hit a wall of “fringe fest fatigue” and it all went downhill pretty damn quickly. What ensued was a full limbs-flailing, lungs peeling, strangers smiling in bemusement (at least I hope it was bemusement and not schadenfreude: DAMN I got to use that word in an actual legit German context!) and a brisk walk back to the car, where the little dude promptly put himself straight to sleep.
But not before we snapped some pretty Hahndorf thangs!
Ah well. We are only days away from the finish line and I guess one or two epic tantrums is kinda inevitable. That makes me feel better. Especially when I say it in a Schwarzenegger accent. INEVITABLE.
The gigs have been going beautifully; Tuesday was so sold out it was kinda ridiculous, some folks had to stand up for the whole show! Such a wonderful feeling; I feel almost guilty about it as I know so many amazingly talented folks who are struggling for audience numbers this year. As those of you who’ve followed since my Melbourne Fringe escapades last year well know, I know exactly what it is to be performing your heart out to three, four or five people (some nights 100% of my audience were staff of the venue!) so I certainly don’t feel like I’ve been on easy street my whole career. But this season, I have had a great one. And I am GREATLY GRATEFUL. Full of grate!
Last night’s Titters saw an improv song about a beautiful couple together for 33 years (!) who met when she cut his hair at a salon. Agh, I love hearing snippets of people’s stories! The song that followed was all “let me cut my way into your heart” and something like:
“after I’ve cut your hair,
I’ll cut off other things just so,
because it’s called marriage baby,
don’t you know?”
Then when one of the line-up comics couldn’t make the show due to hers running late, I came back onstage to finish off the show with another improv song. This time we found the couple who’d been together for the least amount of time…a lovely couple called Debbie and Dave. (Well in fairness, Dave wasn’t there so I am assuming on his part a degree of loveliness). Turns out Dave is a wharfie and they met online. Again, the song is so fuzzy in my head – as all improv stuff I ever do always is, it’s almost like a dream I can’t quite remember – but it seemed to go well and ooooh yes, last night’s show was videoed! So will share that with you if and when I can. Unless, in the words of Shrek, “I can’t find you or I forget.”
Tonight is my second-last show of “Unexpected” – Saturday’s is sold out so if you’re in Radelaide and want to come, tonight is your last chance to come! Tix here.
Also the show is getting some beautiful audience reviews over at talkfringe if you care to check em out.
Oh and finally, if you’re in Brisbane and wanna win some tix to my upcoming Brisbane Powerhouse shows, you can do so with the lovely crew over at BrisStyle here!
Love, light and tantrum-free bliss-balls.
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.
Well, it’s done. WOW. The highlights, in no particular order:
1. Working with musical improv genius, Michael Pollock (pictured above). The two of us spent many, many hours one-on-one, making up so many improv songs that both of our minds began to fry AND I kid you not, I continue to be making up songs involuntarily in my brain before I even realise I am doing it. Does that even make sense? Possibly not. Point is, I learned so, so ridiculously much and as a bonus, Michael sent me home with reams of notes, exercises and ideas to continue on with back home here in Oz. Oh and he gave me piano lessons too, which I am ridiculously STOKED about.
This was always part of the plan (i.e. to help me develop my ability to accompany myself onstage for musical improv) but has the added benefit of making my playing sound so much better in general. It’s going to take time to develop these new habits, but if there’s one thing I’ve been particularly inspired by it’s how much can get done when you just put your butt to the seat and focus!
2. Gary Austin, Gary Austin, Gary Austin. Helen Hunt thanked him in her Oscar speech and now I have absolutely no musings as to why. The man is beyond brilliant. Again, we had dozens of hours one-on-one working on my solo stuff, which is intense to say the least. (I must point out here that this trip we had the good sense to spread the hours out with built-in breaks, unlike my trip in 2006 when I tried to cram 6 hours a day of one-on-one coaching for a week straight and my brain almost fell out of my head.)
As an unexpected bonus, I presented a work-in-progress showing of my one-woman show (within which my solo improv work comes into play) to a number of Gary’s improv students and community. I’m so happy with its development; I’m going to be announcing a Brissie show shortly, then it’s off to the Melbourne Fringe. I have more exciting news coming on this (mainly involving plans for 2012) so. You know. Hold onto whatever you’re sitting on.
3. Seeing SHOWS!!!!!!!
I spent as many nights as I was able hunting down improv show upon improv show to check out, analyse, savour and be inspired by. There really are too many to mention, so let me just throw in the one I have great photos of (courtesy of Gary Austin, whose wonderful newsletter you can check out here: Gary Austin Workshops – AUGUST Newsletter)
4. Hanging out with my super-inspiring and ridiculously jawsome friend (we met as room-mates at last year’s Improv Masterclass Retreat in New York), Natasha Perez. She is a person who I know I will be friends with until the day I die. We dragged each other to shows, geeked out on all things music, improv and combinations thereof, and chatted into many of the wee hours about dreams, big and small. LOVE her.
6. Having the whole trip capped off with the poetry of this guy sitting opposite me in the departure lounge:
This trip was made possible thanks to the Ian Potter Cultural Trust, a fantastic organisation that supports emerging artists to pursue professional development opportunities, usually overseas. More info: http://www.ianpotter.org.au
How long are you going for?
What exactly will you be doing while you’re there?
I’m gonna be doing a tailor-made residency focusing on solo-improv, made up of a series of private coaching sessions in the day-times, checking out improv stuff at night!
Who will you be doing it with?
Two of my FAVOURITE people on Planet Earth. The first is Gary Austin. He founded The Groundlings (where the likes of Will Ferrell, Lisa Kudrow and many many more have come out of. Helen Hunt even thanked him in her Oscar speech) and is generally regarded as one of the finest improv teachers around. I had the tremendous fortune to meet and work with Gary last year when I went to the Masterclass in NYC and connected with him immediately. I am beyond excited to work with him again, particularly in such a focused way and in the area with which I need the most help. I’ve heard people speak so highly of his solo improv exercises (I’ve heard whispers on the breeze already of a pretty famous one he does called 42nd street…sounds tremendous) so yes. Will be most cool indeed!
The second is Michael Pollock, who literally wrote the book on musical improv. We first met many moons ago when I did his intensive workshop in Vegas, where this vid was shot on our graduation. I LOVE him. He is a genius at both the doing and the teaching. And musical improv is my complete and utter passion in this life. I’ve experimented with solo musical improv (including accompanying myself on the keyboard) quite a bit since that time, but am so looking forward to getting into the meat of what else is possible with him!
What’s the grant that you got?
The grant is courtesy of the Ian Potter Cultural Trust, a fantastic organisation that supports early career artists to undertake overseas professional development.
Who’s looking after your kids while you’re gone?
I have a most wonderful nanny who is moving into Fort Comic Mummy to hold the…well, Fort…while I’m away. Yes, I am pretty crazy lucky.
Are you going to miss them like crazy?
Ehem. I don’t want to think about it. The first time I left them for an overseas trip I spent the first 8 days bursting randomly into tears. It nearly ripped my heart out. These days of course, we have skype, which helps. But I am firmly resolved to just make sure I make the most out of every damned minute so it is WORTH being away from them for. Bring it AWN!
What are you most excited about?
Oh gees, I don’t know. Everything. The night I fly in I’m going to see an amazing improv show that Gary Austin is directing, featuring Helen Hunt, Helen Slater (who I used to adore in Supergirl when I was a wee lass) and many more amazing folks. Excuse me. AAAAGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!
Why are you still typing?
Had a suitably lovely time tonight MCing at Livewired at the Powerhouse – I say ‘suitably’ because I feel a real connection with the room, given that it was where I really started getting my comedic ball rolling back when it started around 2006.
Josh Thomas kicked it off, proceeded to MC it weekly and made a point of featuring the best emerging comedic talent in Brizzles, with special guests from all over. This was when it was in the Spark Bar, beautiful, intimate, sometimes noisy, but always a rockin vibe. At one point Josh had the idea that after the first half of the show, the comedians would be given a word of inspiration, from which they had the duration of the break to come up with a 3-minute set, with the audience voting for their favourite offering, sending home the winning comic with…shock, gasp…two drinks!
This quickly became my FAVOURITE part of the show to perform in, namely cos it felt like improv but with a chance to stack the deck in your favour. I almost always created a new comedy song – I don’t remember most of them but I do remember one inspired by “apocalypse” with a line that went something like:
“I can’t believe the only things to survive the apocalypse,
Were a pair of Thorpie’s Speedos and Angelina Jolie’s lips.”
Fast forward five years and Josh is now the hottest thing on TV since hot things on TV, Livewired has now well and truly moved itself into the Turbine Platform, the improv segment of the show is no longer yet in typical “I WILL NOT LET GO OF THE PAST DAMNIT!!!” form I’m still clinging to the idea of making up songs there.
Tonight’s? A love song on guitar dedicated to a couple in the crowd, Jodie and Chris, aptly titled as a tribute to the place where they met and fell for each other:
“Dick Smith Love.”
Hey, you can take the girl out of the improv, but you can’t take the improv out of the girl.
(Note to reader: don’t take that last sentence too seriously, however sorely tempted you may be. At close inspection, it is highly likely to not even make sense.)
I remember years ago feeling very down about my career (which at that point was very much focused on being a screenwriter) and the lack of progress I’d made since uni. I very distinctly recall a phone conversation with my sister, in which I dramatically sighed – a move I’ve since perfected – that “I think I just need to accept that this is as good as it gets.”
The very next morning I got a letter from Tropnest, saying I’d been accepted into their screenwriting initiative at Fox Studios.
Well, yesterday I had a serious case of de ja vous.
I had applied to the Ian Potter Cultural Trust, you see, to do some intensive private workshops in musical improv and solo improv with the respectively brilliant Michael Pollock and Gary Austin in LA. The announcement date had come and gone, however, and with no news coming in the mail, I had simply assumed that I was not one of the chosen ones.
Which is all well and good. Just that I’d been feeling – as you know – a bit down on the lack of momentum on the career front this year since the car crash.
Anyhoo, as my application now put me on Ian Potter’s general mailing list, I received from them yesterday the “Merry Christmas News” email. I opened it up, and curious, clicked on the link to see who the recent recipients of the Cultural Trust grants actually were.
It was then that I scrolled through this.
And saw MY NAME.
I think I actually squealed.
Well you darling people, I had so many lovely responses to the last video I uploaded of my comedy gig – with a few of you muppets even pasting them on facebook, prompting me to burst forth at my hubby in my finer moments with “Hey! I ain’t taking out the garbage today! I am too busy going VIRAL!”
(Viral, meaning in my case, about 40 views. But hey, even a tickle in the throat is technically viral. And damn annoying. So let’s not get picky, shall we?)
Anyhoo, as such, I thought I’d share another on this fine Tuesday morn.
Cue the fireworks!
This is an improvised love song I performed at Livewired at the Powerhouse a couple of weeks ago now. I hope you enjoy it.
VIRAL, I tell ya!
Wow, wow, wow.
My undoubted sensai and musical improv guru Michael Pollock has just posted this warm fuzzy blurb about one of my improvised songs on MusicalImprov.com – to say it made my innards glow with goo is a massive, massive understatement. So very, very cool…agh!
When I say Michael Pollock wrote the book on musical improv, I’m speaking literally. He’s written several books on the subject and I don’t believe I’m stretching to say he’s regarded as one of the USA’s leading experts on the subject. I had the incredibly life-time high of working with Michael in a musical improv intensive at Second City Las Vegas back in 2006, at the end of which we performed a showcase where this very song of which he writes was born.
Then, as if all this wasn’t mind-blowingly awesome enough, just before my departure back to Oz, Michael gave me what I believe is one of the most magical moments of my life – in gifting me with an ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPT of his latest book: How to Write Funny Lyrics: The Comedy Songwriting Manual. I almost died. “Oh relax!” he said, as if he went round handing these out on the strip every other day. But I couldn’t.
Even when I think about that moment now I feel drunk.
And as a 7-odd-months preggie lady, I can’t even begin to describe how pleasant that is.