While I enjoy an opera, a decent play or a choral spectacular, this year I’ve tended to book comedy where possible. On a Saturday night in Darwin, a search showed up a LOT of nightclub action, not much opera and the finals of Raw Comedy, an Australia-wide competition with heats and finals in each state or territory. I happened to have a free Saturday when the final was to take place. Booked!
The crowd at the Darwin Entertainment Centre was throbbing, with a huge queue of people trying to pick up tickets and the unusual prospect of stage management questioning everyone in the queue as to what they were doing so they could get going. Despite this, the show did not start until 30 minutes after it was called. Yes, I could have queued for a drink had I known! Never mind! Sobreity is the new tipsy!
Beside me I had a Yorkshireman and his Adelaidian wife – he had come to Australia and become a local radio star after a career as a heavy metal musician had petered out.
The format was an intro by a successful former competitor – who was quite humorous with 5 ‘raw’ comedians per half. The first up was an Indian-Australian 17 year old, who stuttered and stumbled through some pretty decent material and whose nerves were charming (where they might have been annoying in another performer). Two ‘dad jokers’ were up next (wow, they had won heats to get here?) and a woman in startling red leggings below a mushroom cloud of black taffeta. Sadly her jokes were less than nuclear.
Being on an outer aisle seat is not only superb for stretching your legs in theatres which lack a central nave, but get you to the facilities (loo or bar) before your compatriots.
I ordered up a vinegary shiraz and found a corner to enjoy it. In front of me, an older couple took up a spooning position with wandering hands. To each their own, but in private please! I was horrified when he wandered off rolling a joint and she made a beeline for me, immediately striking up a conversation. I have a chatty face.
She questioned me back and forth. She was a musician having returned from a tour of Paris (although this seemed unlikely as the discussion unfolded – she may have visited Paris and sung in a Karaoke bar). She was, it appears, a pyschiatrist and decided that anyone she met was ripe for intervention. She questioned and probed me on the matter of death, a matter I was not willing to discuss (in the most polite way I could muster) while the bell for the second half of Raw Comedy’s Darwin final was ringing. It turned out her desire to hear my opinion was fairly thin and the discussion was a thinly veiled way of telling me that she was doing marvellously 7 years after her son had died. A sad story, unsolicited, warrants the same sympathy.
The second half contained some more charming artistes – a couple of very odd gay (but single note) competitors and a wonderful woman who chatted through her weight gain over 20 years in a complex and interesting way. The winner, surely?
The Indian-Australian boy won to slight bemusement and presses on to the Melbourne finals! Good luck to him!