June 17, 2013
June 6, 2013
As a stand-up comedian there are a few things you expect when turning up to a gig.
1. There is no dressing room. You'll put your bag in the corner, it may or may not have beer spilled on it when you get back to it. In fact, it may not be there at all.
2. You'll buy your own drinks. All night.
3. You won't get paid enough, if you get paid at all, it won't be enough to cover this weeks rent or mortgage payment, but it may be enough to cover out of pocket expensens for the night, eg. parking or train fare, if you're lucky.
4. As a woman, you won't get laid. Men generally don't find women that will make a joke out of their relationship attractive, unless it's another comedian, then the chances are its open season and you'd better watch what you say and do and you damn well, better be able to do cart wheels in bed.
5. You may have to stand for the duration if it's a 'sell out' crowd. Chances are you'll get to sit.
What you don't expect is to have to pay to get in.
Wednesday night I turned up to a gig and was asked to 'donate' $5 to get in, however, it wasn't really a donation. A donation implies it's optional. This wasn't.
It was explained to me like this. 'We're asking all the acts to donation $5 towards the $1000 prize money.' I was told this at least half a dozen times. Not having $5 on me (I'd had to pay for parking with card) one of the comedians offered to spot me. Please refer to point 3 above.
I overheard a conversation between the door girl and an associate of the promoter, who had previously told me he hadn't had a chance to shower today, it look like it had a been a week, but that's another story I feel. The door girl asked if she should be charging the judges too. He said 'No, the judges are doing us a favour coming out, the acts, well, you know, they're just acts'. I was furious; I'd already been feeling unsettled as I'd been rushing to get there for the call time, spent ages to find a parking place and ended up paying twenty bucks to make sure I didn't get a parking ticket. I declined to perform.
The promoter proceeded to tell me all about her issues with the sound system earlier in the evening and how she wasn't being paid either, and then begged me to go on and tell my story.
I told her that at this stage I was stressed enough to feel vaguely sick and even if I wanted too speak in front of an audience my head space was now completely wrong for performing.
What started out as an issue with having to pay, it was never an issue that I wasn't being paid, turned into an issue of value.
Does this promoter value the acts? Yes, she booked them and expected them to come and entertain her paying customers (who incidentally also paid five buck a head for entry), but does she truly value and believe in them? It's my belief that if she really valued them she would charge the punters a little more, ten to seventeen dollars is pretty much the going rate in Sydney, after all she'd be providing a quality evening of comedy, music, magic and storytelling and customers expect a certain level of entertainment for the price of entry.
You see a band in a pub, you pay $10 you get a pleasant surprise when they turn out to be really good.
You pay $200 to see Whitney (may she rest in peace) and you expect class, when you get much less than you expected you are upset.
What sort of quality do you think the punters where expecting last night with five dollar entry? What was the expectation of the promoter with such a low price of admission?
I'd say, she had very low expectations and like Naomi Campbell said a few years ago 'I never get out of bed for less than ten dollars'... Or something like that, anyway ;)
April 1, 2013
Is this funny or could you have found it plausible as well?
I'm not devoid of humour, as anyone that knows me will tell you. It's just this is at the expense of a voiceless (and indeed non-existent animal that cannot defend itself). Perhaps, if the word 'Arabianxpergasus' had appeared at the top if may have be more clear as a humour piece.
(*Grace BL didn't sensor her use of the swear word, I did that for you. Also, this is her artwork I had nothing to do with it creation).
February 10, 2013
January 14, 2013
Last night the neighbourhood I live in experienced a power outage. I live in a suburban area with plenty of houses and apartments wedged into an area the size of your average English country manor.
After a week of scorching heat and bush fire danger across the whole of New South Wales, the rains arrived. It started with drizzle just after lunch, but 4pm the thunder had started to roll through the clouds. About 5pm, there was a loud bang from the back of the house, the power went off for a moment then flickered back to life. Another loud bang, and the power died once more. Investigation, me standing the back garden looking over the fence, revealed nothing. Once out the front, Beryl, the old lady that misses, nothing told me she’d seen flashes at the main road. She also had no power.
I rang the power company to report it. They were already aware and had ‘dispatched a crew’.
My plan of making tomato sauce from the kilos of Roma tomatoes I harvested was out the window because my cooker and oven run on electric.
I’ll send some emails and catch up with my communications. No good, my wireless comes from a box that is plugged in.
I’ll play Farnville2. Harvest a few virtual crops and make virtual tomato soup and milk virtual cows. Not to be, the internet is powered by the electrical pulses no longer accesses my abode.
I got out the candles and lit a few. I even found some lamp oil and got the glass lamp I have going. It gives of great light. Even though it wasn’t dark outside, inside it was.
What should I do now?
I’ll read. I sat out the back and read for a bit until the mozzies started biting. I moved inside. Sent a few tweets, updated Facebook, but because my phone had been off charge all day I was down to 20% juice. How to charge it? I needed power for that. After an hour sitting in the car I had managed to get my phone back to 80% charge. I switched to Airplane mode and wondered what else I could do.
I lit the barbeque and grilled a lamb chop for dinner. I sat and watched the flames die to create the lingering red that cooks the food. That entertainment lasted about 15 minutes. Lamb cooks really quickly.
The light levels in my house, despite having the entire stock of a small Dusk store burning, was low. It was, romantic. That’s all well and good for a nice night with a lover and a glass of wine, but I needed to do something. After nearly four hours of no power I was frustrated. I rang the power company again for an eta on supply.
A prerecorded message informed me, ‘We are aware of a problem in your area but have no idea what the cause it. We estimate that power will be restored by eleven PM.’
If you don’t know the cause how can you estimate the return?
It was 9.30pm. Pitch dark outside and in. Reading was out, I don’t have the sight of an owl. Crochet had been tried by this point too and I kept dropping stitches and missing them, repairing the damage done to the project would take ages. So, to bed.
I cleaned my teeth by candlelight. Changed into my bed clothes and carried the glass lantern into my bedroom. The dogs looked confused. Surely this wasn’t it for the evening, it was far too early.
I tried reading again, just in case I’d made a mistake about the light levels, but it just wasn’t possible without straining my eyes.
So I laid back, closed my eyes and pictured how the world would have looked in the days before power to every house. It was bleak.
What’s bleaker though is that the developed world is entirely reliant on electricity. The games we play, our cooking (yes, I prefer gas myself, but don’t have that luxury in my house), our washing machines, water heating, our communications devices. I have an oil lamp because I like old things. I have candles for scent, not light. I took advantage of a forced early night.
What would happen if we lost the ability to make power completely? I fear many would cease to exist because they simply would not know what to do.
January 7, 2013
In 2010 I spent much of the year working in Africa.
From this statement, what assumption did you make, if you didn’t know that about me already?
That I worked for an aid agency doing good works for the poor, hungry and homeless? Maybe you thought I volunteered my time working in a field hospital. You almost certainly asked yourself, ‘Ohh, I wonder which agency?’ Thinking Doctors without Borders, Unicef, Oxfam etc.
Alas, it was nothing so noble. I work for a bank, doing office stuff, and I was paid, well. Few people find that out.
My point is that people make assumptions about everything you say and unless they ask for specifics, which they rarely do, that’s the impression they keep about you. It can lead to all sorts of problems, in the workforce and in person. I’m as guilty as anyone.
I do do good works. I volunteer my time, mostly with animal charities. I figure enough people focus on people (an assumption). Animals can’t speak for themselves, so need twice as many voices raised for them.
Currently I’m crocheting blankets. Basically, massive granny squares, but blankets none the less. I was asked on the train this morning what I was doing. The fact the 20 something had no idea what crochet is, is a topic for a whole other blog entry. Having established the lack of knowledge regarding the gentle arts, I said ‘it’s going to be a blanket for charity’.
I’ve been here before, so when asked what charity I simply said, ‘the homeless’.
Last time I specified and said, ‘for animal shelters’, I was treated to a tirade of words and spit that went along the lines of ‘people are far more important’. I didn’t wish to risk going to work and sitting in someone else’s sputum all day, so decided to be vague, based on the prior experience.
She surprised me. ‘Ahhh…the doggies and pussy cats with love that. They’ll be able to make a nest to snuggle into’.
I did my best impression of a guppie, and when recovered I confirmed her assumption.
We proceeded to chat about animals in shelters and how her three dogs had all been adopted for shelters. I’d made assumptions about her, based on the station she got on at, her style of dress, even her immensely coiffed hair. I was wrong. She was remarkably normal and without the pictures stick.
She voiced her assumption. As we were departing the train she said, ‘Thank you for talking to me. I’m new in Sydney and I was afraid you’d ignore or be rude to me, people on public transport here can be so strange.’
I left her with this and, ultimately, a smile on her face, ‘Yeah, but that because I’m weird’.
Remember, to assume, you make an Ass of U and Me.
December 31, 2012
The day known for fools turned into a tragic day for me. My darling Cara went missing when I went out without her for the first time in weeks. A storm spooked her, someone picked her up and stole her.
I held my first Tupperware party as a demonstrator.
I had seven comedy gigs this month.
It was my 40th birthday. I got two cards and one pressy. To say it was underwhelming is an overstatement.
You’re not sorry, you’re rude.
If you were sorry, you’d have allowed more time and not been late in the first place.
I’m one of those people that tries to be earlier or on-time for everything I do. If I have an interview at 2.30, I’ll be there at 2.15. I’d rather be sat in reception twiddling my thumbs wondering if everyone that walks passed is the interviewer than have the interviewer think I don’t care enough to be on time.
I had a meeting this morning for 10.30. They turned up 10.35. I’d been waiting in the room for them since just before the meeting start time. They seemed surprised when I closed the meeting on time even though they still had thing to say, but I had another meeting to get too.
During the early months of 2010 I worked in Nigeria. It was an interesting environment to work in for me because always having had the ‘be on time’ mentality I had trouble adjusting to the normalcy of people turning up for meeting half an hour late; without a batt of an eyelid. Often people would wander in at various times during the meeting, make a fuss about the seating or play with their phones and never really have much interest in what the meeting was all about. After four months we finally had a meeting were no one was more than 10 minutes late. It was a compromise.
I was hosting a party at the weekend for a group of ladies and it was due to start at 2pm. I was cooking them lunch and giving a simple cooking lesson. Four of the five ladies arrived at 1.45. They caught up, helped themselves to a drink and settled down. One turned up at ten passed two, decided now was an appropriate time to catch up with every one, help herself to food and drink and wake up the baby. I smiled my way through it with my silent mantra of ‘calm blue ocean’ and carried on. The late comer than refused the lunch I had prepared because she was full. I could handle the late, if she hadn’t have disrupted everything putting me about 30 minutes behind on the demo. Meaning her friends who had come for lunch had to wait longer to eat, while she stuffed her face with leftovers from the fridge. The host said, ‘good job we’re related’.
It seems to have become acceptable to be late. Something starts at 8pm, people don’t turn up until nine when ‘all the interesting people have arrived’.
I dabble in stand-up comedy and I like to see more of the sort of treatment that late comers to comedy shows get. If you wend your way to you seat after the lights have down and a comedian is on the stage expect to be pointed out to the rest of the audience.
‘Hello, welcome, I’m glad you felt like joining us.’
‘I’m sorry our well publicised start time inconvenienced you in any way, would you like me to start again, just for you?’
I’d love to be able to do this when meeting start late because they didn’t allow for that extra time to get their coffee. Or even when someone turns up late for my cooking demos. Out of context though, that doesn’t work. Shame.
Years ago when training I used to make a point of making people who came back from the break tell an embarrassing story, and have the other participants vote if it was embarrassing enough. People were only late back at the first break. So in context it does work.
If you factor in time to a financial cost, my time, your time and everyone’s time has a value. When you keep someone waiting for half an hour and they normally earn $50 an hour, that has cost the $25. Imagine eight in a room waiting for a ninth, that’s $200 dollars plus the extra for having to reschedule etc.. It can have a massive knock-on effect.
When you turn up late to a party, you’re disrespecting the host and guest that have bothered to arrive on time. You’re telling them you’re too important to bother with such silly things as a start time or you just don’t care, which is worse, neither sheds a positive light on you.
As a wanna-be stand-up I don’t get paid, but your lateness may put me off and could potentially cost me that entire five minute gig because I lost my flow. That in turn may mean I never get booked at that venue again. It hasn’t happened to me but I know some that it has happened to.
There really is no excuse for lateness just as there is no excuse for rudeness.
I’m not saying I’m never late, that would be a lie. I was three minutes late for a doctors appointment the other day because I failed to keep track of my lunch date. I was mortified. I then waited another 25 minutes for three other people to go in before because the doctor was running a bit behind.
‘He terribly busy and a patient had taken more time than expected’. 25 minutes is not a bit behind, it’s a lot behind.
Spread the appointments out a bit more, see less patients. The three minutes I was late could have been made up by my 10 minute appointment being seven (in fact it was only five because ‘you’re skin is amazing’). Would he have been bothered if I’d have walked out of his surgery, saying I’m also very busy? You bet ya bloomers he would have been, he may have even charged me for failure to cancel.
I hate being late.
Written and Photographed by Fran Carleton at Monday, December 31, 2012