Entries in aaustralian comedians (3)


John Morrison Clarke

It's not possible! Not!

Utterly impossible you're gone. You'd leave an absolutely unfillable chasm.

It's such a common name. Common as muck. John. And Clarke. There's got to be thousands of them.  

Not my John Clarke. Possible, it is not. 

I met John in the bowels of the Town Hall in 1997 when his thoroughly brilliant daughter Lorin (who has excellent taste) dragged him along to see our unhinged, surrealist Comedy Festival Show, Miss Itchy's Creme de Menthe Breakfast Show. It tickled John's fancy and he stayed in the room until the rest of the audience had filed out to say to us. [paraphrased] "Well that was bloody marvellous. What fun! I've got a little project and I'd love you to be a part of it, if you wouldn't mind?" Linda and I clung to each other on stage, still in our Itchy gear, whispering under our breath, "It's friggen John Clarke!... what's he saying?!" "I don't know! Just nod and smile." So we nodded and we smiled. He smiled back and said, "lovely! I'll call you then." 

He did call. He called and asked us to come around for a cuppa and a chat so he could tell us about this little thing he wanted to do with some friends. It was going to be about behind the scenes of preparation of the Sydney Olympic Games and he thought he might call it, "The Games."


20 years later I'm back in the Melbourne Town Hall. This time, I don't have stage fright but am worried when I start speaking, all that's going to come out of my face holes are harrowing, wretched sobs. 

"My name is Fahey and I'm one of the comedy people in John's life. I'm one half of the surrealist comedy duo, Miss Itchy. The pretty one. Obvs. The sexier one. The other one of us is here in the audience tonight, but don't tell her what I said about the sexy thing. 

John loved funny women. He loved subversive, articulate, brilliant women and he surrounded himself with them. Even managed to raise a couple of fine examples of the species with no more than the odd note from his darling Helen... if you believe John's version. 

He loved Victoria Wood, Gina Riley, Mary Kenneally, Dorothy Parker, Gilda Radner. He was always challenging me to find out more. "Watch this! Look out for that. Here, read this!" My inbox overflowed and I was in heaven.


I met John in this building, exactly 20 years ago. [when I was clearly 10!] He was amused by our comedy festival show and asked us to come and play with him, at his place one damp afternoon to chat about a little thing he wanted to do. That little thing turned out to be "The Games" and we were lucky enough to play in both seasons with him and his other pals. We were Mrs Dundas and her friend Joyce, from rural Australia who knew how to depict the Olympic Rings, Farm Style. In another episode, we were his deranged Aunts on a cocaine bender in Peru, all expenses paid! It was bonkers. 

After that, we were pals. He was my friend, my mentor and at times, my muse. John made you, better. He pushed you further, he understood your unspoken worries and bouyed you when you need it. We shared emails and giggling phone calls and thoroughly racous afternoons in Smith Street cafes, screaming with laughter at each other. The phone would ring and you'd hear 'that' voice. "Hullo? There's been a terrible incident up this end, we need to assemble a think tank and run through the operating manual. Brown beverages will be consumed. Shall we say, 2?" Damn straight we'll say 2!

When I moved to the United States, away from our beloved Fitzroy he started sending me photos. "I was just taking a walk this morning and thought of you." Attached were photographs of the street we lived on. Melbourne alleyways. Photos of fierce storm clouds taken out the window of his office, high above the tram lines in Collingwood. The bar at Pelligrinos. Just one or two a week. For years. Years. He never said, because he didn't need to but these photos were "I know you're far away and you're a bit homesick, so here's a picture of this place to show you it's still all here and it's still alright."  He'd usually just include a small description of the shot and sign off, The Mayor of Fitzroy.  His other emails were hilarious missives full of concocted catastrophes, peppered with real events. Always signed off by someone ridiculous. 

Yrs, Methusala

Hoorah! (All stand).
Well done that boy, that woman, that man and that brother.

All best from all here, Jim 

Yrs, R Fuckit

Best to all there, including the big bloke and Arnie. Fitzroy chapter.

All best, J Mo C

I have hundreds of them. I'll treasure them always. 

The biggest gift he ever gave you was his laugh. When you could make it happen, it would hit you like a bolt of lightening. Right in the chest. It would take your breath away. I did it. I made John Clarke laugh. What I wouldn't give to hear it again, right now. 

Thank you JC. Thank you. 


Here are the two Dorothy Parker poems I read at John's memorial at the Melbourne Town Hall this last Sunday. One remind me of him and one, he'd sent me one damp afternoon when I had nothing else to do. 


I could have a world of fun
Speeding bullets through the brains
Of the folk who give me pains;

Or had I some poison gas,
I could make the moments pass
Bumping off a number of
People whom I do not love.

But I have no lethal weapon-
Thus does Fate our pleasure step on!
So they still are quick and well
Who should be, by rights, in hell. 


Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song,
A medley of extemporanea;
And love is a thing that can never go wrong;
And I am Marie of Roumania. 


Have You Checked The Children?

I am childless.

Not in any legal sense, I believe I DO have to go and collect each of my progeny when "the bell goes" but for right now, I am childless.

These two ----> are both at their respective places of higher learning/germ incubators. BOTH could not be happier to be out of the house!

It's kinda weird. 

I'm reading similar tales from friends and friends of friends on my twitter feed. FaceBlech has a mention of it too.

There's lots of:

"It's too quiet here."

"I feel lost."

"Anyone wanna meet up for something? Anyone?! Hullo?"

Me?  Well, you are NOT going to understand this at all, unless you too have small humans in your home, but...

I just had lunch, right? Cop this, By My Self. The WHOLE thing. In ONE go!
I know!
Ridiculous! As IF that kind of thing can even happen!?

No one asked for "just one bite". No one snuck (it's a word) in a slurped up the dregs of my coffee - which as everyone knows, is the best bit. AND get this, it was still WARM!  No one complained about their cheese being 'weird", no one wanted to swap a "yucky" grape for a "rounder one". Pfff! Amazetastigals!

With full disclosure, in that time I have also ahd nine panic attacks each time my new phone (that's another story!) makes a noise because I think I'm late for picking up the smaller of my two posers. I am not. I've got another HOUR to myself. A whole human hour. Woo.

There's probably washing to do (oh shit there IS stuff in the machine I must try not to forget) and the floor could really do with a clean of some sort but, that shit can wait until Wednesday when Young Johnny Hands On Hips goes back to kinder again.

Ok, I admit it, the silence is WEIRD!

Here are MY Simple Tips To Alleviate The Weirdness

Yelling  Punctuate the silence with random, "Stop It!" and "Get OFF your brother!" and "Because I absolutely fercucken said so!" 's.  Don't worry about the neighbours. She's just WISHES she thought of it first.

Mess  Take it upon yourself to smear vegemite on your clean frock, right where everyone can see it. If you're feeling adventurous, you can spill a full glass of something sticky all over the floor. Draw on the wall, you know you want to. 

ABC2  Crank it. And admit it. You miss hearing the soul destroying repetitive droning of that sinister Yo Gabba Gabba.

Wipe A Strangers Ass Ok don't. If you want to get OUT of practice, be it on your head.

Drinking. Well, der!

Simple, homespun methods guarenteed to lift you out of the weirdness. 

Don't worry, school holidays are coming up again soon.


Viva le School Year!

Spike and Mo's Mum xxxx




Comedy Festival - How Do I?









Simon Munnery, in La Concepta & Hats Off to the 101ers.

"You kinda know something about this Comedy Festival thing, right? There are SO many shows! You guys must make a fortune! Who should I go see?"  Is a question I am asked at least once a day during the month of April. (Today, the next door neighbours dog, Hitler asked me.) 

My answer is always the same - go see Munnery, even if he's not here, go see Munnery. AND GO AND SEE TWO LOCAL SHOWS FOR EVERY INTERNATIONAL YOU SEE! There is a perception that local comedians get paid to put on a little 'skit' (my fave word for comedy production), go drinking with their buddies all night then sit around enduring endless self congratulating breakfasts in the morning.  Let me shake the untruth off that for you.

Putting on a little skit, for a month takes a LOT of work.  A lot of work and a LOT OF MONEY. You see, the majority of the acts present for MICF are risking their OWN bank accounts, personal lives and sanity. You don't just rock up to the Town Hall in March and put a sticker on the door of the venue you'd like to play in. Although this is a policy I'd like to initiate.

Felicity Ward in the Hedgehog Delemna

No, the work starts about October the year before. You fill out your MICF registration and find the $500 you need to register your show.

Let's keep a running tally, shall we?

Registration, $500

This is of course a show you have already written the bones of, at the very least. You need to have photos. (I think this guy is the best. James Penlidis) Lets call it $400.  Remember, you're not going to get away with a pic of you and your bestie drunk on the beach at Surfers, but professional images which relay the tone of your show. There are going to be HUNDREDS of images/posters vying for spots on lamppost, walls and cafe racks. Most of shows with a much bigger budget than yours so how are you going to stand out? *poster costs, assuming you've done most of the art work yourself, let's call it $1,000. P.S., do you know the difference between semi gloss, matte, and universal gloss paper? Do you need A4 A 3 or A1 size posters?  Have you thought about postcards?

Asher Treleaven

Registration, $500
Photography, $400
Printing, $1,000 

Now you'll need somewhere to put on your little dog and pony show and unless your Dad's got a barn, you're going to want a centrally located CBD venue. Town Hall venues are prized hubs. Being IN the Town Hall does NOT always translate to ticket sales but you're still going to want to be there. Conservative estimates for the venue and tech - oh yes, you'll need someone to run your lights, sound and whatever else you've skillfully woven into your increasingly elaborate pastiche. Conservative estimates will put that charge at around $1000 a week for one of the smaller 30 - 50 seat venues.  The bigger the room, the more the cost.

Registration, $500
Photography, $400
Printing, $1,000 
Venue & Tech, $4,000 

Jennifer Wong, Ouch & Other WordsIt's getting a little flop-sweatish now, isn't it? Ooh! Don't forget your Entertainment Liability Insurance. You don't want your confetti cannons going off early and taking out a pensioners eye.  Or your mic stand to fall off the stage and kill a Seeing Eye Dog. Let's guesstimate, $250 (it's been a while and I can't find any receipts of the insurance we've had to buy) but that seems tame.

Registration, $500
Photography, $400
Printing, $1,000 
Venue & Tech, $4,000 
Insurance, $250

Advertising! How are you going to let people know your tiny little show is on, in amongst the throngs of Hughsies, the heavily promoted International acts and the locals being produced by Token?  To be honest, you're not. You're going to rely on Word of Mouth but you're still going to buy a little advertising space aren't you? Buying ad space translates to editorial space. (you're buying ad space, the paper are 'giving you' editorial space). A 1/8 page, a 1/4 page, a 1/2 of full page ad?  How much money have you got to burn? You can spend anything from $500 for a tiny corner in something like Beat or InPress for the run or thousands on a Herald Sun 1/2 page. We'll call it a conservative $800 for advertising and flyering - have I mentioned standing outside your venue handing out those precious posters/postcards/flyers you had printed as a way of luring people into your show after they see the show they wanted to see is sold out? You can do that yourself or pay someone to do it for you. Damian Callinan, Robinson Crusoe

Registration, $500
Photography, $400
Printing, $1,000 
Venue & Tech, $4,000 
Insurance, $250
Advertising, $800 

If you want a publicist, you can hire one now. If one has room for your show. It's gonna cost ya. $2,000 is a very conservative estimate.

Let's have a closer look at those locals, in particular. How many of them realistically make a living from stand up? If your guess is in the double digits, you're very probably wrong. SO, if you want to put on a show, you're going to need to take time off work. You won't have time to wait tables, or nurse, or be the funny accountant.  You've got some holiday time coming up - best use it. Insert your own lost wages estimate here. $Umpty dollars.

Daniel Kitson in Where Once Was WonderOk, so there are hundreds of shows to choose from. The tickets cost anywhere from $10, Tight Arse Tuesday tix to $40 for (example) Judith Lucy on Sunday night.

Well, you're thinking. Let's shoot at the centre of that range and sell 20 tickets a night, that's $440! See, you guys are raking it in! TicketMaster take half that ticket cost as their fee. What?! Hmm, still $220 a night, where do I sign up! Let's also look at the guesstimated average audience size for a local (unknown quantity) show is on a good night, 10 people. Have you dampened your trousers yet?

As the MICF website says, "Producing a show involves everything from organising venue hire, marketing and publicity, travel and accommodation, sourcing props and equipment, budgeting, ticketing, obtaining insurance and licences and much more. As part of your registration, the Festival provides information packs and workshops to assist you, but it is up to you to make it happen."

MICF is an amazing festival. If not for it, I would not have had 3/4 of the life experience I've had. I would not know who Simon Munnery was. Or Daniel Kitson. I wouldn't have seen Greg Fleet bare his soul and lengthen his sleeves or Felicity Ward rock the shit out of a room. I would not have smeared chocolate cake on Adam Richard's head (ok, that probably still would have happened, just not in front of 3000 people) nor would I have laughed so hard at Bill Bailey that I hawked up a lung. I'd also probably not have the sight of a bare chested Sam Simmons smashing taco shells into his pigeon frame burnt into my retinas, nor would I have... ok the rest of that sentence is now redacted. You know why, Festival of 1998...

It's SO important that you get out there and support local acts. They're literally selling their souls for you.  Go see Damian Callinan, go see Jennifer Wong. You're probably already planning on seeing Wil Anderson, why wouldn't you? He's brilliant but please, take a chance and see someone you've never even heard of.

They've got an average of $8,000 on the line. And don't think, oh I can just see them in October after all this festival stuff has died down. You can't. Festival is special. Festival is very often the only time of the year you'll see any one of these comedians do a solo show of 1 hours duration, packed to the gills with lights, props and a small Bolivan Lizard (WHAT a show!). Go. What are you waiting for?

fahey xx