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


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