I must preface this blog by saying that last night was one of the strangest, most surreal (although not to Adam Hills’ standards) and exciting nights of my life. There will be some squeeing (I’ll try to keep it at a minimum) and a LOT of name dropping (especially for mental comedy fans like myself). I get to see great comedy/comedians so rarely, that I will happily seize this opportunity to brag and rub it in your faces. You have been warned. But first, a few words about the shows I went to see!
O’Comics – PJ Gallagher, Andrew Maxwell, Des Bishop
I arrived at the venue, a bit sweaty, but very early so grabbed myself a front row seat. I was joined at my table by a couple, who were quite lovely and who bought me a beer ‘for saving their seats’. I was a little distracted by Maxwell who kept running up to look through the only semi-opaque backdrop before the show. That’s right Andrew, I saw you! The show was compered by PJ Gallagher, who immediately won me over. I’d not heard of him before, but I will be keeping an eye out for him from now on. I found him charming and funny, with a lovely impish quality that only made me like him more. First up was Andrew Maxwell, the man I was there to see. I’ve seen Maxwell’s solo shows in Edinburgh 2008, 2009 and will see him again this year. I like the man and what he does. And he did it well. I thoroughly enjoyed his set, he had some really beautifully crafted new routines which were interspersed with less structured chat. An excellent set from Mr. Maxwell! PJ came back on for a short set, which included asking where the single people were. I was one of few who cheered, so I got asked the charming question ‘Are you happily single or bitter?’ I didn’t have a recent breakup story (single for 4 years! Hurray!) so I went with happily single... It’s mostly true... Next up was Des Bishop! I was a bit surprised when Des came out with a noticeable New York accent (it was billed as an Irish show after all), but he addressed this, and the fact that he’d lived in Ireland for a long time right off the bat. He talked about how he came to live in Ireland, and quite a lot of more personal material, testicular cancer among other things. I forget how this came about, but Des picked up on the fact (probably from PJ’s bit) that I was single and at the show on my own. So I was the go-to girl every time he touched his crotch, or talked about sex. I was assured that he wouldn’t push my head if I gave him a blowjob, and that he’d only had erectile difficulties 4 times in his 34 years... so ‘when we have sex, it’ll work’. It was slightly awkward (made more so by the fact that I really needed a wee for the last 10 minutes of his set, but couldn’t get up as I was sat at the front, and definitely wasn’t offended), but very funny. I don’t understand why people are scared of sitting in the front. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the show and I’ll see if I can find a spot in my Edinburgh schedule for Des’ show... although at this stage of planning it’ll be fucking difficult.
Harland Williams’ show was in the same venue as the O’comics show, so I hung out in the lobby in between, I got another front row seat, this time at a table with 2 lovely girls, Natasha and Lori. They were great fun! We spent the night from 8am-3am together, so I’m happy I sat with them! Harland’s warm-up act was called Justin Schlegel. He did a short set and was excellent! I might be biased, but I think he got bigger laughs than Harland did! The premise for Harland’s show was that the first half was scripted, and the second half would be improvised. It might be my love for spontaneity in comedy or it might be that my preference in comedy has shifted a bit since I first discovered Harland, but I enjoyed the improvised part of his show much more than the scripted bit. I wasn’t sure how the improvised bit was going work, but he took suggestions from the audience and improvised a bit of material around that theme. Things that came up were masturbation and Tim Horton’s (Canadian doughnut chain) among many others. Once again, sitting in the front row got me attention. I was given a line to say after Harland improvised for a while. My line was ‘he had it coming’. Maybe I was too worried about remembering the line or maybe I was missing something else, but to me anyways, my line didn’t make sense after what he had said... The audience seemed a bit puzzled as well. Ah well, improvisation didn’t always work. But I did get the microphone thrust at me a few minutes later as well for another ‘he had it coming’. Thank goodness for short term memory! I remembered and didn’t get humiliated. Although, hearing my voice in the microphone was pretty bad. Anyways, the show was a good night out, and seeing one of the first comedians I ever liked 5 or 10 years later really put my shifting comedy tastes and expanded comedy knowledge into perspective. I went out with Lori and Natasha to meet Harland afterward, as Lori is a massive fan (to the point where Harland knows her name). He was lovely, thanked me for ‘he had it coming’ and gave me this very memorable photo.
The girls then pointed out that Tom Green was standing outside. I should mention that I never got into Tom Green, but (at least in Canada) he is very famous. He came inside to talk to Harland, and gave me a flyer for his show out of his jacket pocket. That was too weird. I like getting flyered for shows by the person in the show... but it just struck me that Tom Green is way to famous for that! I’m keeping the flyer though, it was a slightly odd start to what ended up being a very strange night. While the girls were having photos and chatting with Harland and Tom, I spotted Justin, the warm up comic outside and wanted to congratulate him on his set. It must be odd warming up for a solo show, and I thought I should acknowledge that he was great! There was another girl talking to him when I came out, but he was lovely, thanked me for being the strange comedy nerd that I am, gave me his business card and invited us (well probably just the cute blonde he was talking to... but I got in on the offer anyway) to the bar in the hotel across the street. He said it would be where all the comedians were. Fuck me he was right! As we were chatting, Mike MacDonald (a veteran Canadian comic or someone who looks incredibly like him) sped down the hill by us on a scooter (not a powered one, essentially a skateboard with 2 wheels and a handlebar). Add another tick to the ‘weird’ column.
Justin, Harland and Tom all made their way out and Lori, Natasha and I had to make a decision. To go to the bar or not? Would it be weird? Would we be allowed? Eventually, Natasha made the executive decision (thanks so much!) and we went. We grabbed ourselves a table and ordered food (for me, it was late and I hadn’t eaten since 4:30pm) and drinks (for all). For your information I am pretty much a rolodex of comedians (do those still exist?) and I have excellent facial recognition. I spent the entire night catching glimpses of awesome comedians out of the corner of my eye and over the shoulders of whoever I happened to be talking to. I even looked over the shoulder of Tim Minchin while we were talking. I am a cunt. So if I did that to you last night, don’t take it personally, and I’m sorry. This bar was my ‘kid in a candy store’ moment. The empty table we found was next to Glenn Wool and Pete Johansson for a start. Harland, Tom and Justin were on the other side of the bar as well. As the night went on, I saw a ton of people pour in (these are the ones I didn’t talk to); Tom Wrigglesworth, Bo Burnham, JJ Whitehead and Jack Whitehall to name a handful.
Just as the girls and I were finishing our food, Des Bishop walked by. I gave him a smile and a wave and he came right over. He had remembered me from the show and apologised for picking on me (sorta) for the evening. We made introductions and he eventually pulled up a chair. We chatted a bit about the show, how the crowd was very hot and cold (they were, it weirded me out), how he didn’t like the high angle of the stage, how he recognised me from my tan lines (you’d think the purple hair, but no). He then told me that after Des had gotten me involved in his set, Andrew Maxwell had mentioned that he recognised me from twitter and that either he, or both of them, read my blog backstage after the show. Add that to the list of weirdness. I’m aware that this blog is on the internet, and that it’s public, but I always thought that the only people reading are the 30 or so people who subscribe, all fellow comedy nerds who I am aware of through twitter, or forums. To find out that the subjects of my blog, first Minchin and now Bishop are reading it, freaks me the fuck out. I’m just a fan. I have no power, no pull in the comedy world and no public presence. Thanks to all of you for reading, but at least comment when you do so that I know you’re there...
Sorry. I got a little distracted. Yes, so Des sat at our table for a while. Maxwell came over for a short while as well. I mentioned that I was a bit creeped out, and retaliated by commenting on the nice outfit he was wearing at Fullmooners on the weekend. He didn’t seem phased, but Des seemed impressed by my comedy connections. We played the ‘who are your favourite comedians’ game and had some lovely chat. I then saw Jamie Kilstein standing nearby so I went over to say hello. Jamie and I have met on multiple occasions now, so it wasn’t as weird as approaching a stranger. It took him a split second to recognised me (I think the hair might’ve done it) but I got a lovely big hug, and asked to see his wedding tattoo of a penguin. It was a lot smaller than I was expecting, but very cute. Then a photographer friend (who is responsible for some of the lovely artwork on Jamie’s websites) came over. Shortly after that, Jamie got pulled away from the conversation. I asked the photographer for his name (which of course, I don’t remember) had a little chat, then went back to my table where Des and the girls were still sitting.
Not long after that, Tim Key came into the bar and came over to chat to Des. Introductions were made, I mentioned that I’d be seeing his show tonight and in Edinburgh. He got taken aback by the mention of Edinburgh, but I explained that I was going and mentioned that Mark Watson told me it was worth seeing twice. He said ‘oh, I was his best man, that’s just loyalty’. He’s far too humble. Tim was lovely, if a little frightened by me. Next we chatted about what to do/see in Montreal and Natasha (who’s from here) got lots of questions from the rest of us. I got up to go for a wee and on the way back walked by Minchin.
Minchin and I chatted for quite a while. The man is lovely! We talked about the Toronto gigs, he asked where I live, and how far that is from both cities (assessing my general creep factor), we talked about Linzy (again), Kirsty, Yvette and Shell. We talked about Mark Watson, and their kids (Mark and Tim’s kids with their respective wives... not with each other). Tim showed me a very cute picture of Caspar and Violet on his phone. They are adorable with big blue eyes and lovely blonde hair! I forget what else we spoke about, but he’s a charming man. And I got the title of ‘stalker’ last night. I thought that was reserved for Yvette... but apparantly not. To be fair, I am the most stalkerish of his Canadian fans.
Soon after I got back to our table, Justin came and sat down. We shared some overly personal stories and talked about the comedy industry. When I said that I had come to Montreal for the festival, on my own he seemed genuinely touched. He said on multiple occasions that ‘we need people like you’. I don’t know why I find it strange when comedians genuinely appreciate dedicated comedy followers, but it’s something I’ve come across fairly often, and I’m glad that I’m appreciated. Once we realised that it was 3am, we decided to call it a night (last call at the bar helped). On our way out Minchin walked by. I introduced him to Natasha, Lori and Justin and he called me a stalker. They seemed quite confused, since none of them knew who Tim was, and in the elevator on the way out said ‘Who was that guy with the weird hair?’. Me: ‘Oh him? He’s Tim Minchin, my favourite comedian.’ So yeah, that about sums it up really. Sorry for rambling, but last night was very exciting. I’ll leave you with this. My walk home at 3:30am was terrifying. But totally worth it! Tonight and tomorrow are gonna have to be fucking incredible to top this!