Sometimes brains are pathetically obvious

17 Aug

I did a gig on Friday night. Is that how you say it? ‘Did a gig’? No idea. Which goes to show.

It was an all-female show. I’ve been doing a bit of research on women and comedy and that whole ‘they just aren’t funny’ thing. It’s very interesting and I’ll tell you more about it one day, but one of the wider observations I would make about shows with an all-woman lineup is that the age range of the crowd stretches. A lot. And that’s what really makes the difference. So, Friday night rocked. The audience was ace – what with their stretched ages and everything – and I had a great time.

My set was a small part of my first full-length script. It’s called She’s Not Just Quiet – She’s Dead. It (the script) still needs work, but it’s getting there. It’s a story as much (maybe more than) as it’s stand-up, so I had to whip it into shape a bit and make it a bit punchier than I think it will be when it’s the proper full-length script. In its stand-up form, it ends with the eulogy I wrote for the dead librarian.

My friend who came along said to me ‘I couldn’t believe it when I realised what you were going to do…I don’t know if you’re reallly, really brave or just crazy’. She said this because the last time she saw me – three weeks ago – I was delivering a small eulogy at my dad’s funeral.

Such a thought did cross my mind. More than once. What was I doing going to a stand-up gig on the month anniversary of my dad’s death, on the three-week anniversary of his funeral? What was I doing going out on a full moon? What was I doing, going out at all? And what’s with this eulogy? Is it disrespectful, am I just trying to make a point, and if I am, what is that point?

But for the first time in ages, I was looking forward to going on stage. In fact, not just for the first time in ages, for one of the only times ever. I was looking forward to being on stage. In the afternoon, as I was rehearsing, I was saying the lines over and over because I was enjoying them (the lines, the words, and the spaces in between the lines and the words) not because I was petrified that if I didn’t repeat them I would forget them. And I was looking forward to being on stage because it would be fun to share those words and those lines.

I’ve been working on this script, or at least the idea of this script, for ages. Simply ages. I have tried everything to get it to work. This voice, that voice, her voice, his. A carefully-plotted outline, free writing, writing on a whiteboard, on butcher’s paper, on the computer, standing up, sitting down, in bed, on the lounge. And for a year, it just has not worked. All I have had is the kernel of an idea I’m commited to, but no idea how to make it work.

And, now, all of a sudden, She’s not Just Quiet – She’s Dead is pouring out of me. Okay, maybe pouring is an exaggeration, but the script is drawing words – good words – to it like a magnet. Okay, maybe they’re not all good words. But they’re not all bad. And there’s a freedom about the writing that makes me think it must be working.

In the moments when I can work (and let me say that despite this pouring of the words, there are more moments when I’m on the couch than when I’m at my desk) it seems strange that I can work on anything, let alone a piece of comedy. I was trying to explain it to myself (and sorry if I’m expressing myself awkwardly here, my oldest boy is playing the piano just a metre or so away from my left ear and I don’t like to ask him to stop), and I said to myself something along the lines of ‘you are keeping it in a separate part of your brain’ and ‘you are keeping the different parts of you at a distance from each other’.

But clearly this is not entirely true.

Anyway, if you need me, I’m back on the couch, I really can’t think anything much at all with eldest boy practicing his thirds and fourths over there.

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5 Responses to “Sometimes brains are pathetically obvious”

  1. elsewhere August 17, 2008 at 5:27 pm #

    So sorry to hear about your dad. I must have missed that somewhere over the past few weeks.

    The rest of the post was interesting too. I felt I encountered some resistance to the idea of a woman writing comedy at the script workshop I attended. Can’t explain it, but the feeling was there. It was as if I was being urged to write serious life drama, because that would be more appropriate or something.

  2. ThirdCat August 17, 2008 at 6:21 pm #

    Thanks Elsewhere. I imagine you were in Wineglass Bay. Or New York. Or Gopher.

    I found a really interesting blog about screenwriting that had a post about that. When I remember my delicious password (I had this bright idea that it was time to change all my passwords) I’ll find the bookmark and let you know.

  3. blackbird August 17, 2008 at 9:30 pm #

    I listen to my brain at all the wrong times.
    Be sure to follow yours now, I’d say it is leading you where you are surely supposed to be – couch or stage.

  4. tut-tut August 18, 2008 at 5:43 am #

    I’m impressed with your ability to concentrate, and draw all the right words to you.

  5. Helen August 22, 2008 at 6:51 pm #

    You’re going to do that show at next year’s Melbourne Comedy festival, aren’t you? *brandishing baseball bat* AREN’T YOU??!!?!

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