Sorry this is a touch late folks – been having a few issues with the server over the last 48 hours, and I’ve had more important shit to do – like sorting out an international comedy tour…
Since I’m finally starting my Perth International Comedy Festival & “US Relations Tour” by flying out of Heathrow Monday night, I thought it’d only be appropriate to put up the “comedy” compilation of the 101 Things.
29 – Meet Your Idol
While I was working in Melbourne running the shark dives at the aquarium, I started hearing a bizarre but hilarious guest presenter on Triple J by the name of Sam Simmons. Lets get something clear: the man is weird… really bloody weird. And very much my kind of weird – while I’d never kind to do the kind of comedy Sam does on stage and radio, I can and do watch/listen to it whenever I get the chance. It’s absurd and surreal, but at its core it’s fun. There’s no misery in what Sam does – it’s beautifully bizarre.
I knew I liked Sam when I first heard him on the radio, but I think what sealed it was when he stormed out of the Triple J studio live on air – Robbie Buck had (jokingly) announced Sam would be taking over both Breakfast & Drive-Time slots, and there had been such a storm of hundreds of abusive texts sent into the station saying how much they hated Sam Simmons. Sam (quite understandably) took it all personally, and during his show decided to up and leave – Scott Dooley had to jump into the studio to cover the slot without really knowing what had happened, and no one could find Sam. Here was a guy who was putting his heart on his sleeve and embracing the weird and wonderful, and Australia had turned on him…
Once the staff at Triple J found him and calmed him down, they showed him all the other texts that had then poured through – thousands of people saying how much they loved him (myself included) – how he was a breath of fresh air on the station, how they would listen to shows they wouldn’t normally because they knew he’d been on – and proved that the miserable pricks who’d complained were an obnoxious minority.
I’ve met Sam a few times over the last few years, getting a proper introduction in a performer’s bar via some mutual comedy friends (the amazing John Robertson & glorious Jo Marsh) at the 2011 Edinburgh fringe. But I’d actually met him for the first time the year before, at the 2010 Edinburgh Fringe when I went to the play he was doing with Dave Quirk called “The Incident”. I was first through the door of the theatre and started walking down the aisle to grab a seat near the front… when Sam popped his head out from behind the curtain and said hello! The exchange went something like this;
Sam – Gidday mate!
Me – Gidday Sam, how’s it going?
Sam – Good! You an Aussie? Which part?
Me – Oh, Perth…
Sam – Perth! I’m from Perth!
Me – Yeah, I know!
Sam – *looks at me weirdly*…. well this is awkward
Me – …. yeaaaah.
Sam – I’m gonna… I’m gonna go say hi… to other people… enjoy the show
And that’s the story of how I weirded out one of the weirdest men on the planet – and my idol – by accidentally acting like a creepy “I know everything about you” superfan/stalker…
As you would have read last week, I’ve been in some pretty scary situations at times. Besides nearly crashing a plane into woodland, I’ve also found myself out of the Bibbulmen track alone with during torrential flooding, driven a car through Amman at peak hour, and used to routinely handle/dispose of misfired military and mining explosives. These things were scary, but not terrifying.
Stepping on-stage to do my first ever stand-up comedy set was fucking terrifying.
And through the wonders of technology, we can go back and watch it OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN.
Oh God… the horror… the horror
Not me though – I can’t watch more than about 5 seconds of that without wanting to violently punch myself in the face. SO AWKWARD. And clearly the MC & light technician thought it was funny watching me sweat, panic and mentally disintegrate during what was supposed to be my first five-minute set. Because the light technician is supposed to flash the lights at 5 minutes to signal your time is up – you wrap up your current joke and get off stage. But they just let me keep going. And going. And going…
And as the recording shows they left me up there for 12 gruesome minutes. And once I finally left the stage, I immediately threw up in the bathroom, and was so covered in sweat I had to have a shower in the dingy theatre shower room. Delicious.
I’m proud to say I got back on stage the next week though, and it was a very tidy & funny 5 minutes. And I’ve kept at it. I’ve had some very dodgy gigs at times – mostly because I’ve not felt like what was going on in the rest of my life was particularly funny. The gig I did the night I left the Aussie Navy is still the one I remember as the worst – not because it wasn’t funny, but because it was just heart-breaking for me and the audience. Someone came up to me afterwards and said it was like an emotional roller-coaster.
And ignoring all the conjured rage of the Menstrual Monday posts (which long-term readers will have noticed are becoming less frequent…), I’m a much much happier person now than I’ve ever been. After all the years of trying different jobs/careers, lashing out at the world because I’d sacrificed so much for what often seemed like nothing in return, and generally feeling lost and confused when so many others around me seemed to have found their place in the world – I think I’ve found what I enjoy most, I’m now good enough at it to do it for a living, and so I’ve stopped being such a little bitch.
Well, it kind of started with those 12 minutes.
Almost 12 months to the day before that hideous first attempt at stand-up, the Mighty Ginge made it’s first appearance on blogspot with this post on February 12th, 2008. I was a few months away from leaving a pretty miserable year working in the mining industry, and was trying to find a creative outlet for a lot of the frustration. The Mighty Ginge plodded along as and when I felt like writing something offensive, but nothing was regular. I also kept my identity off the page: friends knew who was writing it, but there was nothing to directly link me to it. The idea was to be able to say and bitch about whatever I wanted without having to deal with any complaint personally…
The next evolution was to move beyond blogspot – I’d seen what Phil (an old mate from uni) had done creating Toothsoup, and I wanted to expand beyond just an everyday blog to have trendy subsections too. Which meant getting my own domain and ftp server, and moving away from the familiar comfort of blogger to wordpress. The new “themightyginge.com” domain went live July 28th 2009 (in the months waiting to start training with the Royal Marines), and I’ve been slowly tweaking and fiddling with the layout ever since to make it into the masterpiece you see today.
Things evolved again when I decided to reveal who’d been behind it all in early 2011, turning the site into the centre of all the arms of the Mighty Ginge empire – advertising my stand-up shows, connecting the Youtube channel, linking the Twitter feed and invading Facebook.
And the final move has been to start posting on here regularly. Since the start of 2012 we’ve had atleast one full-length post a week, and given I wrote most of this 2 months before it’s scheduled to publish – we are well on the way to having what some would consider a functioning website!