Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Melbourne International Comedy Festival - Off Stage 5

The Comedy Festival, and my season starts in 2 days time as I write this. Nerves, excitement and fear are almost overwhelming – in equal measure. Ticket sales are ticking along nicely. Opening night is sold out and the second night there are only 10 tickets remaining. As long as there are tickets available then there is always room for improvement. Ticket sales adds a lot of anxiety even though it is one aspect of which performers have little control, if any.

Having tested material in pubs and clubs around Melbourne throughout the first part of 2015, I know it works. It generates laughs. At the right spots. Laugh with me, laugh at me, it does not really matter as long as there are laughs. A 50 minute solo show is a different kettle of fish.

The risk is it stinks like a kettle of fish.

It is all me, no other acts no MC. Just me beginning to end. My jokes, my audience interaction my musical ability.

The pay off is a lot of laughs, audiences telling their friends leading to more ticket sales. Intrinsically the reward is simply being acknowledged, all of the work being validated.

Issues of memory haunt me in my preparation. Will I be able to remember all of the show? Will my memory fail me mid line in a song?

And then there are the unknowns, broken guitar strings, losing my voice, drunk audience members, power failure, Russian air raid. Reviews. Some of these contingency plans can be developed others not so much. All of them add to the stress in the lead up to putting on a show.

The culmination of the nerves, excitement and fear is energy. Twitchiness, incredibly short attention span and irritability which all in turn lead to highly irregular and disrupted sleep patterns.

To complete the vicious cycle sleep becomes something else to worry about. It would be awkward to fall asleep during my own show.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Melbourne International Comedy Festival - Off Stage 4

Tech crews (sound, light and staging) should be like sport umpires in that if they are doing their job well they are not noticed. At the end of the show when the talent raises their hand toward the anonymous people at the back of the room or backstage the audience should be left wondering “who the hell are they pointing too, and why are we clapping them?”

The transitions will be seamless, the sound perfect no feedback, no drop-outs. Everything  goes according to the running sheet any the techs talent comes to the fore when they follow the act as they venture off script. Their flexibility and ability to go with the flow of the show – or if they were a constitutional lawyer; “the vibe of the thing” – is critical to the success of a festival show.

Rehearsals are as much about the technical requirements as they are the material themselves. I am pleased that the crew for my show have willing suggested ideas for staging that will add to the humour of the material. Check out my tech crew’s work for yourself - live for 10 shows during the festival. http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2015/season/shows/a-freak-by-any-other-name-darren-freak

Even shows that appear to have the simplest of stage set ups, a single microphone on a stand and a spot light still require the tech crew to be paying full attention. Many of the tech team will be running multiple shows per night and repeating them night after night. By the end of the season they will know the material nearly as well as the comedians and yet they will still laugh along as though it was the first time they heard the joke.

A wicket keeper sets the tone of the fielding side.  In the same way the tech crew can set the mood of a room for the performer and audience alike.

Here’s to the tech crews working hard on all shows, here’s hoping we don’t notice any of them.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Melbourne International Comedy Festival - Off Stage 3

People wonder why a producer is necessary for a comedy show. How much production does one person on stage talking or singing random stuff really need?
Let me tell you.

A producer does a lot of important off stage work that can take the comedian away from the art of performing comedy.
  • Preparing and distributing press releases. Despite the apparent narcissistic tendencies of comedians writing about yourself, in the third person without sounding like a dick is actually quite difficult. Much easier to have someone else write about you and make you sound like a dick.
  • Coordinating the printing and distribution of posters and flyers. Mine are now out and about in Melbourne and surrounding suburbs.  I would love to see pictures of you with my posters. This does not mean I condone selfies. Tweet them to @DfTours or #FreakName
  • Source costumes for segments of your show. Most importantly negotiates a loan of said props. Any saving is a bonus for the artist and ultimately for the audience with cheaper tickets.
  •  Delivering and collecting items from the Comedy Festival office. I am lucky in as much as the office is conveniently close to me. But those few minutes of back and fourth are valuable moments of rehearsal.
  • Assisting in the creation of techniques to help compensate with memory issues and no, one of them is not writing material on my hand and arms. Although my arms are freakishly long there is not room for the lyrics of 11 songs!
  • Negotiating/argue with venue about ticketing, technical requirements, even seat layout

Despite the great assistance a producer provides an artist, the one thing they can’t do is buy up all of the tickets, that is the responsibility of you the public.  Help to produce a great show by buying a ticket now.

One rule of comedy is the Rule of 3, so here are three ways to buy tickets to my show. (feel free to buy 3 tickets)



Thursday, March 12, 2015

Melbourne International Comedy Festival - Off Stage 2

The good news is that the posters and flyers have been printed and distributed in cafes and on street bollards in and around Melbourne CBD and suburbs. I do get a little excited – and a little unnerved – when I find me staring down on me as I eat my way through a parma.

The bad news is that I possibly have not one but two bulging discs in my back.   My early apologies for any audience members that sit to my right, I have significantly reduced mobility in that direction.

At this stage the restrictions do not limit my guitar playing. Or my dancing. To be honest with my dancing abilities it would be difficult to tell if a significant injury was affecting my moves on the floor.

The treatment is a case of no pain no gain. One physio session was so painful I passed out. Other session leave me feeling nauseous and dizzy, or perhaps that is the pain medication. Either way the show must go on.

Rehearsals continue and there are 2 weeks from now (now as I write it not now when you read it). Opening night is Thursday 25 March. Have I mentioned opening night is sold out?

Show links, tickets can be purchased through either of these sites

tickets directly from

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Melbourne International comedy Festival – Off Stage

With 2 weeks to go rehearsals are in full swing. If only my cat could sing, she would be well equipped to be my stand in having laid on the couch for all of my in home rehearsing. Questions still remain regarding her stage craft.

Testing material in front of non-feline audiences has also occurred with great results. The songs have evoked laughter – for all of the right reasons. Based on audience reactions and feedback some of the material has been refined. Tightened. Thankfully none of it had to be either dropped or completely overhauled. I think my head would have imploded if I had to un-learn material and then learn it again in.

I have a problem with my memory at the best of times.

Part of planning for this show has included cheats to help jog my memory. It will be like a live “Where’s Wally. Join the audience and see how many you can spot.

Printed adds have been booked and printing of posters and flyers is well underway. Look out for my face watching you eat and drink in a Melbourne cafĂ© any time now. It won’t be awkward for any one, I promise.

The MICF program is now out. What’s more people are reading it and seeing my show. I have had people ask what is it like to see your own show in the program. First of all flattering that people are recognising me and approaching me in a friendly way. Secondly it is extremely exciting. Thirdly it is terrifying, suddenly it all gets very real. People are buying tickets. 20% of all tickets have already sold including opening night which is sold out! And my advertising does not even really started.

The nerves kick in, big time. Particularly when I start to question the value of the feedback my cat has given during all of the rehearsals

Show links, tickets can be purchased through either of these sites

tickets directly from