So? You think you’re funny?

13 10 2017

It’s been ten years since I stepped on a sticky stage at the Stones Corner Hotel and relinquished my stand up virginity in front of a crowd of drunk punters. Ten years of sweating profusely on stage, mild anxiety and second guessing my abilities as a comedian. Time sure does fly past when you’re constantly thinking of dick jokes, I guess. Still, I’ve been looking back on those ten years with fondness and I can’t help but wonder what I’d tell myself if I’d met me before I started doing this whole thing…

  1. You’re going to get jealous of other comedians. Don’t do that. Everyone develops in their own right and you can’t get caught up in that nonsense. It will do your head in. A comedian you know just got this awesome gig with an international star? Be happy for that guy. Someone keeps getting the mint spots at that gig you like? That’s okay. Don’t beat yourself up about it. You’ll get some sweet gigs in time. Everything will be fine if you work hard.
  2. You are going to eat so much shit that you’ll want to hide in a dark cupboard for a week after the gig. You’re not going to bomb on stage all the time but when it does it will feel like a punch in the guts. Sometimes these gigs will be attended by people you love. Don’t take it out on them because you couldn’t deal with what was put in front of you. Learn from these mistakes. You won’t but you’ll wish you did.
  3. Don’t be afraid of interacting with the audience, you flake. You’re going to spend seven or so years being terrified of the audience. Then one night it’ll all snap into place. Sure, there will be times when the crowd throws you a curve ball but you can deal with it. Learn from other comedians. Some are great at this stuff so buy them a beer and have a chat about it. You’ll never get over your fear of the audience but you’ll be able to deal with it a bit better than that time during your third gig when a drunk lady tried to pull the microphone from your hand at the Kelvin Grove Hotel.
  4. You are going to meet some toxic people. Like any industry, there are noxious germs who will try and pull you down like a drowning man caught in a vicious riptide. The entertainment industry, and you are an entertainer as well as an artist, is particularly narcissistic and it seems to attract a few of these people. Luckily the industry is generally self-regulating and psychic vampires are often identified early on and are shunned by most. That doesn’t mean you won’t interact with them. Take particular note of the one that always tries to put doubt in your mind every time you’re working with them. You’re not going to die on stage just because they did.
  5. Remember when you told yourself that you’d write every cool thought down that popped into your head like that “Guide to Stand Up Comedy” told you to? You went and bought a neat little notebook to jot down your ideas. I found that notebook the other day. It’s empty, you walnut. Think of all those amazing premises that floated off into the ether because you didn’t have that book with you. Well, it’s not too late to start doing this.
  6. It’s going to take you five years to find your voice. Sure, you’ll think you’ve found it by about year two or three but you’re just kidding yourself here. You’re going to start out essentially reciting a set word for word and that will work for a bit. Get rid of the paper and flesh ideas out once you’ve framed the premise. Listen to your comedian mate from Sydney when he tells you after a gig at the Newmarket Hotel in 2009 that you’re funnier off the stage than on it. He’s right.
  7. Other comedians will steal your jokes. It happens; sometimes on accident and other times not so much. Write some new ones. One night you’ll be watching someone you know who has made the big time doing a slot on TV. They’ll do a joke of yours almost word for word and you’ll be angry about it for a bit because it was the best joke you’d written to date and you remember the exact time they saw you perform it. It took you about 13 months to get it down right and now it’s gone. That sucks but you can write new ones. Funnier ones.
  8. You’re going to spend time away from your family. That sucks but you can make up for it. Try and do more around the house and, for God’s sake, don’t let your kids read your set list. Well, unless you want to explain what “ginormous ballbag” means, that is. Tell your wife (yeah, you’re married now, buddy) you love and appreciate her. Don’t take her to gigs where you think you’ll bomb. See Point 2 above.
  9. You’re going to have to play the game. Call those bookers. Go and hang out with some room runners. Tell people about your stuff and how you feel you’re progressing. And would it kill you to get someone to film you every now and then? You do a killer hour long show in 2017 and you forget to film it. That’s going to sting, man. Also, get some head shots that don’t make your noggin look like a Russet potato.
  10. By the time you’re ten years in, you’re still going to feel like you’re learning. If you get stuck, read over points 1 through 9 again. Oh, and exercise more and drink less. In 2009 your shirt will accidentally burst open while you’re on stage and people will see your nipples. Wear a different shirt that night. One without buttons.


Tell Me About the War, Daddy.

4 07 2013

I’ve never been a huge fan of censorship. I mean apart from god-bothering fundamentalists, who is?

“Yeah, I didn’t want to watch that movie anyway! It may affect my moral judgement and cause me to do something silly with this knife!”

Still, as a parent, I am super aware of what goes into my children’s minds. I don’t even swear much in front of them anymore. However, I’m not one of those parents who sugar coats everything and freaks out if their kid accidentally sees the evening news. Personally, I think we overestimate how fragile our children’s minds actually are. While perusing numerous family and parenting forums in my pursuit of morons, I can’t help but notice how many parents freak out when their kids see something bad. Or see someone naked. Or see two men/women kissing. It’s a therapist’s wet dream out there. I almost worry about this generation of children who are being raised in a wonderful but chaotic world. What happens when they use an un-moderated computer for the first time and type “Tits Vagina War Fuck” into Google? Will their little heads explode? When did we become so worried and anxious about what our kids are learning?

Some people would say that when I grew up information about the world wasn’t as readily accessible as it is now although that isn’t entirely true. You see, we had these wonderful things called books. Some of us even had a series of books called encyclopaedias. I certainly did and my parents actively encouraged me to read them. On school holidays, I’d start at the letter A and work my way, alphabetically, down the list. Yes, I was a nerdy child but I certainly learned a lot. I distinctly remember the first time I used these books to help me at school. I’d used them before but I hadn’t thoroughly utilised them as a research tool.

I was in Grade 5 and I had to do a 5 minute speech on a topic of my choice. Everyone did. I was extremely nervous but also rather lazy. Plus, that was the year Return of the Jedi came out so you can understand I was a little distracted at the time. I did my speech on astronauts and it sucked and I was told to do it again. I refined it and did it again, forgot my speech and sucked even harder. My teacher told me I was being lazy and I wasn’t trying hard enough. I went home that night in a dejected state and stared at the encyclopaedias. It was then that I noticed a large Reader’s Digest book sitting on its own. The Complete History of World War 2. I picked it up and opened it to a page showing Stuka dive-bombers hurtling through the air above Poland. I was hooked. I spent the next couple of hours jotting things down and re-jigging my speech.


I arrived at school the next morning organized and ready to deliver my meticulously prepared speech to the class. I had brought my book along because I wanted to end my speech showing the class a number of interesting photographs contained inside. My teacher asked me what the topic was.

“Nazi Germany and the Final Solution, Miss” I cheerfully said.

She just stared at me but let me proceed.

I then delivered a 5 minute diatribe about the evil Nazi regime, Adolf Hitler and the attempted extermination of the Jews of Europe.

“Here’s a picture of Auschwitz. And here’s a picture of the mass graves containing lots and lots of bodies. See how the dead bodies don’t have any shoes? They took them off, you see.”

I finished my speech to thunderous applause from my classmates, some of whom also wanted to look at the book. I had bookmarked the best photos for them.

My teacher gave me a funny look and said “Very good Andrew. Thoroughly researched even if the topic was a little grim. A-“

I don’t think I would be out of order suggesting that if a Grade 5 kid did that at school in this day and age that there’d be a bit of an outrage. Parents would complain to the school that their kid saw dead bodies in class and now Timmy wants to know why Adolf Hitler persisted with the war even though he was losing and why do people kill each other. No doubt counsellors would be called in and the young child who thought he’d picked an interesting subject would get in a bit of trouble. You never know. Maybe even Today Tonight would be called in and there’d suddenly be a story entitled “Neo-Nazi Primary School Student Participates in a Gruesome Tirade” wedged in between stories about boat people and dodgy land-lords on their show.

I’m not advocating strapping your children down and forcing them to watch the evening news, A Clockwork Orange style. That would require far too much effort. I know that when the time comes when my son sees something bad on the television or in a movie, I won’t freak out and gnash my teeth while wailing “the world is a bad place and I don’t know how to tell my child this!” No, I’ll talk to the kid. Children are smarter than we think and you can’t keep the world hidden from them.

Now excuse me, I’m going to play some Grand Theft Auto on the Playstation with my son. He likes it when I drive over pedestrians at high speed.


“Burn them, Daddy. Burn them all”

A Letter to Avis Australia.

9 04 2013

Hello Avis Australia. You recently sent me an email asking me to fill in a feedback form about my latest trip. I generally don’t fill these out but I had a rather unusual journey and I feel it’s in Avis’ best interest that they know my story.

I picked up my car from Fraser Coast Airport on the morning of 19th March. Upon entering my car, a white Ford XR6 (which is apparently part of the “premium range”), I noticed something unusual. I noticed ants. Lots and lots of ants. It appeared that, during a period of wet weather, a large number of ants had decided that the rear passenger panel of the rental car was a superb place for a new nest.  I spent some time trying to remove the ants but they were persistent and numerous. I tried, in vain, to look for the queen so I could perhaps perform some sort of coup d’état but I was running late so I drove my car (and the colony of ants) to Mundubbera.  For most of the journey, the ants behaved themselves but on several occasions they crawled about my person causing me to scream a little bit. I generally don’t mind ants but when they crawl into your various body cavities while you are driving at 100 kph on a rural road, you tend to react in unusual ways.  Some of the ants got also into my pie. This upset me greatly because I am on a diet (according to my wife) and when I go away for work I like to treat myself to things I don’t normally eat. Mainly pies. About halfway to my first destination I noticed the “airbag fault alert” sign came on. This was concerning because the likelihood of having a serious crash while trying to remove ants from my eyes and/or pie was about 1 in 24. I am not sure what caused the airbag fault but it may have been the ants. In fact, I am almost certain it was the ants. I’ve heard they like getting into electronic equipment. Also pies.


Luckily for me, I did not careen off the road as I am a fantastic driver who is used to wildlife being in close proximity to my facial region. I was able to drive to Bundaberg without crashing and I stayed the night in a motel by the beach. So did the ants who had decided my suitcase was a more suitable place for a nest than the rear panel of a Ford XR6. Who can blame them, really? I went to a hotel for a drink that night and my clothes smelled of ant. When I ordered a beer the bartender said “You’ve got an ant on your head!”

Yes. Yes I do.

As conversation starters go, that has to be up there with the best. I had a decent night sleep in my foetid motel room and was only woken up by ants on 17 occasions.

The next morning I rang the Avis office in Bundaberg and a nice bearded man swapped my car for a lovely brand new Pajero with functioning airbags. This car also had no ants, which was a nice touch, except for the ones lurking in my clothes in my suitcase. I did not tell the nice man about my ant problem because I was worried he’d accuse me of secreting the ants into the car myself. He did notice I was scratching a bit though. I told him I was allergic to pollen and I think he bought the lie.

In the end, Avis was very helpful in replacing my ant-ridden jalopy and providing me with a shiny new car. Please note that I understand that Avis does not yet possess the technological gadgetry to control insects and I do not attribute the presence of ants in my car to Avis in any way. I don’t know how long they were nesting in the car but they seemed like they were there for the long haul. I certainly won’t let this incident affect my judgement on choosing car rental companies but I will always check the rear passenger door panel for nesting insects. You should perhaps put that on a disclaimer. I would have been very upset had the ants actually been wasps.

Yours Sincerely,

Andy Thompson


An Apology

13 02 2013

Hi there Blog.

We haven’t communicated with each other in a while. It’s been nearly a year, to be exact. A lot has happened in that year and some of those things pulled us apart. Oh, I always knew you were there. I sometimes checked on your statistics and every now and then I even read one of your posts and smiled at the memories we shared with the internet. I’m sorry I haven’t written anything in you. I’m not always this neglectful. Absent-minded? Yes, sometimes, but never neglectful. Will you allow me to explain? Thanks.

I’ve always been creative and I’ve always had a fantastic imagination. That’s why when I started doing stand-up comedy, it felt like the most natural thing in the world. I mean, sure, I wanted to vomit before every gig but the actual joke-telling part was a lot of fun. It still is. I just never found being creative to be a hard thing. That was until last year. It’s amazing how one day you can go from being a free-spirited scamp writing witty musings and sometimes posting them on Twitter and/or Facebook, and the next your soul is crushed and the last thing you want to do is try and entertain others. That feeling when you hear and see people laughing and you want to grab them by the throat, shake them hard and ask them to stop rubbing it in your face is terrible but not completely unwelcome. I lost it my creative juices and there is a reason for that.

You probably don’t know this, Blog, but there was a lady who used to read you a lot. She read every single post in you and smiled. She adored you, Blog. She absolutely did. She would call me or email me and tell me how much she enjoyed you but she’s not with us anymore. She was my mother and she passed away after a very short and frustrating battle with cancer in April, 2012. 7 weeks from diagnosis to death. Isn’t that fucking rough, Blog? It sure is. I’m glad you agree. Her passing has left a hole in my heart that, on some days, feels like a raw, air sucking wound with bits of shrapnel stuck in it. For a large part of last year, I was numb. That kind of thing really impacts on your life.

I’ve read on numerous occasions that some of the funniest people in the world are also the saddest. Well, for me the funny doesn’t come when I’m sad. I had a horrible year and didn’t write one joke. That’s almost professional suicide. Oh sure, I wrote a boatload of premises and a few ideas popped into my head but the creative magic wasn’t there. The worst thing was that I kind of expected to fall into some sort of fugue state whereby I’d wake up, start writing and after an hour or so I’d have pages full of perfection. In reality, I’d stare at the screen and every now and then I’d write down a sentence only to delete it within seconds. I would do this for an hour or so. I read once that Jerry Seinfeld would write for an hour every day. Well, I did that but it’s just that every line I wrote disappeared into the ether. The pages of material I managed to write (and save) are angry ramblings that appear to be a cross between a high school student’s English essay and the letters submitted to the local paper by a disgruntled senior citizen who hates the world and wants everyone to know about it. I guess there might be something worthy in there. Can you remind me one day to open those musings? That’d be super.

My mother was an inspiration and she was supportive in everything I attempted. I once wanted to play the violin and my mother heeded my wishes and a violin was acquired. I spent 4 years learning that damned instrument and on a few rare occasions I succeeded in making a sound that didn’t sound like a cat being sodomised. She stood by me though, always smiling. Sometimes the smiles were strained. A 12 year old playing the violin can do that to you. When I told her I was going to start doing stand-up comedy, she was delighted and informed me my first gig would be fantastic. She was absolutely correct but I’m lucky she didn’t come to my second where I ate so much fail I nearly quit then and there. The first time she came to see me perform occurred about 7 months after my first gig and it was a surprise. I was lurking in an inner city venue before a show, wanting to vomit, when I bumped into my Mum and Dad at the bar. I was elated to see them but secretly shit-scared. I also spent the next 10 minutes in the bathroom rearranging my material because it was all about her. I’m sure she would have liked it but I didn’t want her to feel bad in any slight way. Funnily enough, I think I still have the recording of that gig. I bet if I rummaged around on the computer I could find it but I don’t want to listen to it. The material would make me cringe but hearing her loud cackle would be too much to bear.

She also loved my writing but I bet even Hitler’s mum loved “Mein Kampf.” That’s what mum’s do. “I like it but not so much with the Jew-hating, Adolf. Here, have some strudel” She encouraged me to write and knowing she enjoyed by stories filled me with joy. Of course, there were some stories I wrote that I probably would have never told her in a million years but, as anyone will tell you, once you have an audience it’s hard to stop. But I stopped writing last year. Writing became hard and telling a joke or funny story became a chore. Yes, Blog, I did enjoy standing on soggy stages making a room full of people laugh but that’s easy when you can fly on auto-pilot. Adding a new tag to a previous bit was a win for me and I kept those wins. They were the small coals that kept the fire burning. My mother always told me that it’s easy to quit and that a lot of people do it because it’s too hard to keep going so I stuck with my craft and kept the ashes warm, waiting for a spark.

It’s been nearly a year since she passed away and that spark has just started to smoulder in some wet leaves. It’s amazing how a small throw-away comment can spur you into action but that’s what happened. Thanks, Mike van Acker. Thanks for kicking me in the gooch and getting me active. As for you, Blog, shall we start afresh? I’m ready if you are.


My mum loved rude jokes. She loved her grand-kids more.

Let Sleeping Drunken Men with a Sniffle Lie

4 10 2011

We’ve all had horrible moments of shame in our life. Moments that, when we look back on in hazy recollection, make us cringe and feel sick in the stomach. I’ve had so many that I’ve lost count. The overwhelming majority of my shameful moments involve me and a crowd of onlookers who like to guffaw and point. One such time occurred when I was in a co-ed swimming class in Grade 6 and was told to get out of the pool by an angry PE Teacher. I was quite adamant that I stay in the water because of my raging pre-pubescent erection which was causing me some difficulty with regards to swimming in a straight line. When I eventually left, I pretended I had a sore stomach and hobbled, doubled over, to my towel before scurrying away to the change rooms. I’m fairly certain my charade didn’t fool anyone because I was referred to as “Boner” for the remainder of the year but the only person upset during this experience was me. I try not to upset other when I am inflicting shame on myself.

I recently had a minor cold and my snuffling and snorting brought back recollections of the time when I first started having sinus infections. I started getting these horrific things in about 1994 and anyone who has ever had them will attest to the fact that they are a horrible thing to endure. This is especially true for those people around you who find the honking and dribbling sound of someone trying to breathe annoying. These infections are easily treated with hardcore antibiotics but back when I first started getting them, I generally waited until I was positively leaking before I sought treatment. This is probably a good time to inform people that this story will be gruesome and may make people sick but I need to get this out there. I am hoping that this story will be a cathartic experience and that I might get some closure from writing about it. What it probably will also do is make people really wary about inviting me over to stay the night at their house.

It was August 1994 and I had travelled down to Melbourne from Brisbane to see my family and catch up with some friends, namely a good mate named Marty. One night, Marty suggested that we visit a few pubs and have numerous drinks. I had a raging sinus infection and wasn’t suitably dressed at the time but didn’t say no to his suggestion so he loaned me a shirt we stumbled around a few dingy pubs in Carlton and Fitzroy. Our last stop of the night was a bar in Fitzroy whose name escapes me. It was a little up market place filled with cocktail sipping law students but that didn’t stop Marty and I who charged into the premises and started quaffing down beers like the world was ending. Marty took a shine to one of the female patrons, a delicate Goth looking creature in a black frilly dress, and proceeded to woo her as only a 6’3 rugby player with long unkempt hair can. I stood by and watched him, all the while sipping from my beer, swaying gently and occasionally sniffing loudly. I realised he was going to be a while so I focused my attention on the nearby vintage pinball machine. I must have stuffed about $20 into that machine over the course of a few hours when Marty came up to me and told me that he was leaving with his female conquest who appeared to be completely enamoured with him. I was faced with the prospect of a long and expensive cab ride home and started shuffling towards a taxi rank when she called out “We’re going back to my house around the corner. You can come and crash there if you want.”

I agreed. This was a good outcome. I would crash on the floor and, when Marty was ready, we’d both scurry out the door like rats in the night. After a short walk, we got to her place and they both stumbled through the door with their hands down each other’s pants. I felt slightly unwelcome following them inside but I had started to feel a bit sick and my nose would not stop running. I sniffed loudly and informed my gracious host that I will sleep on the couch but she would not have any of that.

“Oh no. Sleep in my bed. We’ll be in my flat-mate’s room. She’s away,”

I tried to refuse but she was quite adamant that guests in her house did not sleep on couches. I wondered if she re-thought this initiative in the morning following the carnage that occurred during my brief stay. They scrambled off to the flat-mate’s room get busy and I staggered into her bedroom. As I opened the bedroom door I noticed an underlying theme. Black. Everything was black and no, that wasn’t because it was 3am. She had black silk sheets and a black silk duvet cover. Her walls were black and the bits that weren’t black contained posters of Robert Smith and Morrissey who both looked out over the room with a haughty sneer. It was a really tidy room and I was suitably impressed with her standards of cleanliness. I was also really tired and rather drunk so I sniffed loudly and passed out face down on the bed. I was in a good place. My last thoughts were “I sure hope I don’t dream of The Cure. I hate The Cure”

I woke up several hours later to Marty roughly shaking me. He’d performed his part of a one-night stand and had decided not to stick around for breakfast.  I went to sit up but something was attached to my face. It was the pillow. The fucking pillow was stuck to my face. Bewildered, I slowly pulled it off and we both heard a “schlepppp” noise as the pillow came free. My nose had been leaking during the night. Well, leaking is probably an understatement. Let’s just say my sinus cavity had exploded. There was thick, sticky, fluorescent green nose-butter all over the place. I was shocked and somewhat amazed at the volume. Then I remember where I was. In a girl’s bedroom, in her immaculate bed, covered in green slime. I scurried back from the toxic goo and looked around at the extent of the damage. Even in the gloom of an early August morning in Melbourne I could see that something had gone drastically wrong during my blissful slumber.

One side of the pillow was completely concealed in green snot. The coverage was so great that I couldn’t even see the pillow-case. It hadn’t dried either. In fact, I don’t think this snot could ever dry out. In retrospect, I reckon some scientists from NASA would have wanted to take a look at it. It could have been used as an excellent malleable bonding agent in space. I looked around and saw more snot on the duvet. A puddle of it, actually. One whole sleeve of my shirt was covered in it. Well, I say my shirt but it actually one of Marty’s favourite shirts. He gawped at me like I was some sort of evil circus freak. I gawped back and sniffed loudly. My hair was all gelled up and one whole side of my face was stuck in a snot-frozen grimace, like the Joker from Batman after a really bad meth binge. We needed to bail quickly so I flipped the pillow over and we both went to work on the duvet, trying to remove the damage as best we could. During the frenzied cleaning process, Marty got some snot on his hand and he started to freak out a bit.

“Gaaah! Guuuur! Fuck!” He looked at his hand in horror and made some mewling noises before trying to rub it off on his jeans. He then looked at me and unexpectedly vomited all over the bed. The situation had gotten out of hand really quickly. I grabbed the duvet and flipped it over; hiding the puke and the nose-slime, before straightening the pillow and making sure everything looks nice. Then we ran like the wind. We ran out of that house like shameful puppies with our tails between our legs.

I still feel really bad about this even though it happened some 17 years ago. Marty was absolutely filthy with me because I had destroyed any chance he had of going back into that bar and I had also ruined one of his favourite shirts. I can’t help but imagine the look on the girl’s face when she crawled into bed later that day. In small distant part of my mind I can also hear her screams in horror and she slides her foot into what must have felt like slightly cold elephant placenta. I don’t know her name and I certainly can’t remember the bar in Fitzroy but if she is somehow reading this then I want to give her a heartfelt apology. That’s the least I owe her. I also probably owe her some new sheets and a duvet cover. Maybe even a whole new bedroom suite.

Sorry about my nose.