Melbourne: better public transport than Auckland, better laneways, better bars. But here’s one thing the two cities do have in common: a comedy festival. We enlisted Auckland comedian Donna Brookbanks to report back on her Melbourne festival experience.
Today I woke up. It’s so much fun sleeping in a single bed again! Sometimes in a double bed you can be so reminded of your loneliness. I only ever sleep on one side of the bed in a double bed as a symbolic gesture to the gods to please goddamn fill it.
I am living in an Airbnb with some of my favourite people: Brynley Stent, Tom Sainsbury, Eddy Dever and Alice Snedden. Brynley and Tom are sleeping in bunks which is the cutest thing in the world, but Tom also sometimes likes to sleep on the floor in the lounge because he works into the night like the dedicated insomniac he is. Eddy bought hot cross buns and sleeps on the couch. Alice likes to listen to Adele in the shower.
We have a rooftop courtyard which we have hardly used. Most days we talk about doing yoga up there at 9am but I have generally slept through that time. Some people say that to just think about exercise is the same as actually doing the exercise. This is a true fact.
Alice and I are doing a stand-up show called Please Stop Clapping. Sometimes we stand outside the town hall and beg people to come to our show. It’s so degrading! It’s always a good thing to do if you start to think you’re getting a bit too big for your boots.
Rejection keeps me alive! What a feeling! We have an early show today at 5 and we have sold 8% of our tickets! Alice and I are doing half an hour each of stand-up. It is equal parts terrifying and scary. The first night of our show I finished my set, said goodnight to the audience, looked at my watch and realised I’d done 15 minutes. In Melbourne, time goes extra fast because you are closer to the equator and you can fit more words into a minute. Not many people know that.
Every night, Alice and I refresh our ticketing apps until I have to give my phone to the tech for the house music (is there anything more anxiety-inducing than making other people listen to your music…?) and then I go and sit backstage.
I’m sure the audience think that the backstage leads to another room with maybe drinks and a couch and stuff but it’s really just a tiny cleaners cupboard with all of Tom Walker’s props in it which include a huge stick and a lot of red bull. On the first night, I was meant to go over my notes while Alice was on stage but all I could do was stare at a GIANT cockroach on the ground and wait to find out if it was sleeping or dead.
The Comedy Festival in Melbourne has over 8000 shows on every hour. Okay, maybe not that many. But it sure feels like it when you look at the two giant blackboards outside the town hall and see your show written in tiny print next to all the other shows on. The Town Hall on Swanston Street becomes like a market of comedians selling their wares. It is very hard to come up with one line to sell your show. I’ve tried: ‘funny stand-up show!’, ‘hilarious kiwi humour!’. Alice has mainly hit gold with ‘I’m on the TV at home!’
I find flyering SO HARD. Trying to sell yourself to strangers gives my anxiety a right old boot up the butt. And I’m not talking about sexually, you cheeky bastards. In that case, I’ve got no problems. Just kidding Mum! It’s so difficult for me that quite often I get my words confused and say things like ‘funny cand-up stomedy!’ etc etc. I talk for a living! What am I doing with my life!
I have, though, seen some great shows so far.
Josie Long is a UK comedian who talks politics in her set. I don’t talk politics in my set because I don’t really get politics. I just talk about cats and being alone. Josie did a very funny gag about a quote from a book. I laughed very hard. Sometimes it can be very hard to watch a show from a technical point of view when you are enjoying it so much, so I might have to go and see it again.
Anne Edmonds is an Australian comic who is my spirit animal. She is a true Aussie legend. I told her on Twitter that she was my favourite comedian and she replied with ‘oh thanks heaps’. The beginning of a long lasting, unequal friendship, I imagine. Anne talks about being single in her thirties and I can really relate to that. She does lots of great characters and it showed me that I can be way sillier in my comedy than I am already. If that’s possible. Also, she always wears good lipstick.
Watching both of these amazing female comics is super inspiring. Coming to Melbourne Comedy Festival is so worth it just for this reason. Also the boys are cute here! Neither of these comedians are coming to NZ for the festival so soz about dangling a carrot in front of your cute button noses but if you get the chance to see either of them, you should jump to it [Josie Long is currently in New Zealand as part of the Cosmic Shambles live show – ed.].
I did however see Rose Matafeo: Sassy Best Friend. That’s the name of her show, Sassy Best Friend, but also she is a very sassy best friend in real life. I love Rose’s comedy and you should see it too when she comes home for the NZ comedy fest. Also her hair is curly now and it looks GREAT. And she has cool jeans. Rose has such great theatrical comedy, I love it.
Yesterday I bumped into local NZ celebrity, Guy Williams, on the street! It’s amazing who you bump into here. Also I think Arj Barker smiled at me, but it could have just been a hipster on a bike wearing a hoodie.
Tonight I am going to see Guy Montgomery’s new show which I am pumped for. He is a true comedy force and a pretty bloody good mate, if I may brag just a little. Then I might do some dancing at the Comedy Festival club and drink too many beers and look at cute boys and try and work up the courage to talk to them.
You can book tickets to Donna’s comedy festival show Cat-Lady-In-Waiting here.
The Spinoff Weekly compiles the best stories of the week – an essential guide to modern life in New Zealand, emailed out on Monday evenings.