Saturday, February 25, 2006

The Wayward Boy & The Last Laugh

Talking about the Last Laugh in the last post made me all misty eyed and nostalgic, so I dug out some old photos, newsletters and programs I had lying around.

A bit of background:
Started by John Pinder and Roger Evens, the Last Laugh was the place to go and see comedy in the late 70s and 80s (amd a bit of the 90s), it had two amazing theatres and plenty of "Renovators Delight" charm. Some of the amazing acts that performed there were (in no particular order) Rik Mayall, Alexei Sayle, Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders of The Comic Strip , The Busby Berkleys, Circus Oz, Bing Hiter, Earl Okin, Dizzy Spells (the show I first worked on), The Bouncing Czecks, Bob Downe, Rachel Berger, The Brass Band, DAAS, Mark Little, Andrew Goodone, Anthony Morgan, Greg Fleet, Found Objects, Empty Pockets, The Phones, Liz Sadler, Peter Rowsthorne, Wendy Harmer, The D Gen, Russell Gilbert, Brian Nankervis, Linda Gibson, Geoff Paine, Richard Stubbs, Let The Blood Run Free, Rod Quantock, Flacco, Magda Szubanski, Gerry Connolly, Phyllis Diller, Alan Pentland, The Whittle Family, Los Trios Ringbarkus, Momma's Little Horror Show, Richard Stubbs, Vince Sorrenti, Austen Tayshus and scores of others (feel free to add any I've left out).

I started as a work experience kid in 1987 (?) I think and was thereafter allowed to offically "hang around for bump ins and outs and bit andpiecess in between. Taking me under his wing was the immensely talented and long suffering Fred Wallace who patiently allowed me to apprentice myself in the theatre even though I was basically a pest. Thank god for that man. I learnt so much by watching in the wings and from up the back of the balcony next to the lighting box. A lot of things just plain baffled me at that age and a lot of the sharp wit of the stand ups and the backstage irony was lost on this terribly immature, hormone ridden,Young Ones loving, comedy idiot.

My greatest moment was probably also my most tragic. Pinder had organised an amazing show called OZNOST - a conglomerate of Australian comedians who were going to be shipped overseas to impress the good folk at Edinburgh. He organised a one night fund raiser which I had scored myself two prize tickets too. Naturally I wanted to take Selene - a spunky, tough girl I was in love with. We settled down in our booth seats against the wall and waited for the show to begin. Fred, looking uncharacteristically frazzled, came up to me quickly and asked if I wanted to be backstage manager for the night. My love of the Laugh and the bountiful comedy line up took immediate precedent and like a cad, I left my date to enjoy a night of hilarious laughs...all by herself.

The comedy scene started to change in the 90's, Fred left and I drifted away, soon the Laugh was sold off and it's Time Capsule was probably opened and all chuckled at it's contents. I still have dreams about it - usually me, trying to focus lights, balancing precariously on that ridiculously thin pole that ran from one side of the roof to the other.

Check out more images here

Monday, February 20, 2006

Colin and Frank (doesn't have the same ring)

After twenty years performing together Lano and Woodley are calling it a day. Twenty years ago I remember watching them, as a callow work experience boy, from the balcony of the Last Laugh (when they were the Found Objects). Their onstage anarchy and surreal take on the world confused, delighted and scared me. An image from that show that sticks out is of Frank emerging from a fridge after having mutated into a strange carrot-like creature. I found the thinly veiled cocktail of pain and violence lurking under their happy schoolboy personalities strangely fascinating, like a car crash but it was their dedication to the art of slapstick and their commitment to character that I will always remember.

Having just watched Frank perform a marvelous bit of schtick in Working Dog's new TV show "Thank God You're Here" I can't wait to see what they go onto now and all power to them.

P.S. Just in case you didn't spot it, the silhouettes of them walking off over the hill is a lovely homage to Morecambe and Wise.

Some more places:

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Tag! You're it!

I've been tagged by the lovely Loobs therefore:

Four jobs I've had:

Waiter - at the Bull ‘n’ Bush Theatre Restaurant – where I learned to loathe the “Hokey Pokey” and big vats of ugly looking Minestrone soup.

Art Supply Sales Assistant – My first real job was at Dean’s Art Store, I think I got it because I had Cliff Pugh as a reference on my resume. They put up with an amazing amount of crap from me as a late teen (coming in tired, stinking of smoke and booze etc), still I had a lot of fun there too. Some customers I served – The Grollo Family, Pamela Stephenson and a mute guy with a bitey Chihuahua.

The Sorting Hat from Harry Potter.

Site Producer – SCAPE Studio. An amazing job I fell into because I knew who Stan Lee was and had some ideas about animation on the web. SCAPE was a joint venture between Channel 10 and Village Roadshow and was a huge, beautiful, badly timed mess. 40 Million down the drain and nothing but a shadow to prove it ever existed…I was there when the Bubble burst. It was my job to source animations, games and content for the site. It was here that I struck up conversations with the amazing Anton Emdin, Joe Murray, Dave Jones, The Lycette Brothers and others.

Four movies I can watch over and over:

Animal Crackers – The Marx Brothers. (link features 'new' footage - Harpo without a wig!)
Once Upon a time in America – Dir: Sergio Leone
The Party – Dir: Blake Edwards
Allegro Non Troppo – Dir: Bruno Bozzetto

Four places I have lived:

Mulberry Hill, Baxter. Now a National Trust property this is where I spent my childhood and loved every minute of it.

Warrandyte. Once a lovely little hamlet with trees, a river and plenty of bored, drunk teenagers with mullets. Never go back…

2/119 Brighton Road Elwood. My first solo flat outing was a dingy ‘70s yellowbrick affair with light blue walls and rising damp. Here I ate pot noodles, played Tom Waits and the Betty Blue Soundtrack until it all got too expensive and I met a playwright called Di who moved in. The day before I was about to leave for Barcelona I got an eviction notice. They gave it a makeover, painted the brick purple, stuck a fernery in the front and sold them off as designer apartments. Heh suckers.

Top of the Hill, Acland Street, St Kilda. Where I first shared a flat with my partner. When St Kilda still had a rough edge and there half as many cafes and designer restaurants. It still had all the cake shops mind you and this is where I got fat. Heady days. Mary Martin Bookshop, The Danube Restaurant, The Espy, The Astor and the Galleon.

Four television shows I love to watch:

There is nothing currently on the Box that’s pressing my buttons, maybe Wild West and Teachers on the ABC but they’ve been hit and miss over the last few eps. So - perennial favs:

The Goodies
Big Train
Whose Line is it Anyway?
Get Smart

Four places I have been on holiday:
I've already haughtily dropped Barcelona into this list, so:
Papua New Guinea
New York

Four of my favourite dishes:

My Grandma’s Vegetable Soup (with meat)
A Bento Box with loads of wasabi
Monica Bellucci
Anne’s Golden Syrup Dumplings

Four websites I visit daily:

Why, Loobylu of course!
Cartoon Brew
Double Fine Action Comics – the most underrated web comics around, these guys are fantastic.

Four places I would rather be right now:

Shooting the breeze with the gang around the Algonquin Table circa: 1920 (or pub Hopping in Paris with Robert McAlmon, Hemingway and Fitzgerald)
Enjoying the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland with the family
Biking through the streets of Leuven, Belgium.
Improvising with pals and having a really great freaking time.

Four bloggers I am tagging:

That cheeky Loobylu took most of my list...

Sad isn’t it that there are so few Bloggers I can send this to…when will all my luddite friends catch onto the internet?

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Headline: Pathetic Actor Uses Blog For Catharsis!

The green eyed monster snuck into my room under the cloak of darkness last night, whipped off my doona and snuggled down for a bit of close companionship...and it stinks.

O.K. so he got the role. I couldn't have done it anyway. Good for him. Great, really. I hope it goes really well and everyone gets big fat freaking cheques at the end of the tour.


Not bitter at all. But he keeps freaking doing this to me.



Friday, February 03, 2006

Cartoons! Craft! Glue! Paper! Geek Heaven!

I'm such a jaded old internet hack that when I stumble across a website that makes me yip like a little fluffy shitzu I just have to post a link:

via the eagle eyed and very talented

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Mean Streets, Blind Alleys and Deaf Courts

I had some fun this week as I ran around the mean streets of Dandenong pretending to be a detective type for a corporate video. You know the deal - jumping over boxes, bawling up crims against a wire fence and squealing the tires of my car as I followed in hot pursuit...all the while dressed as an electrical firm's salesman. I'd love to play a cop in a show - Geoff Paine has got a suburb piss-take script up his sleeve which I'm urging him to submit to the stations.

My AAMI ad is on the telly apparently - I haven't seen it yet but someone told me it came up ok.

Did an audition for a ninemsn ad which would have been sweet if I'd got it - seeing as they fired my sweet arse a couple of years ago after "Sidewalk" was downsized...

Sadly I had to pull out of the Eurobeat auditions after much weighing up of the pros and cons of committing to a National tour...just can't afford to do it at this point in my life. It would have been great fun though and I hope it goes over gangbusters for Andrew and Julia's sake.

Deakin University beckons again and I'm going back to teach Drama and Media again this year as well as teaching some specialised courses for Impro Melbourne. Speaking of IM - there's plenty brewing for the year ahead which looks interesting.

Hoping to score tickets to see the new Working Dog TV production "Thank God You're Here", headed up by Glen Robbins after he had performed at I.M's All Star Theatreports show last year - he has done the impossible and actually got an "improvised" show to the filming stage (sadly not using any IM improvisers though) . God I hope it works or it will be a long, long time before we see one again on our screens.