A Fun Sunday in Brisbane.
Last night was one of the best shows we have ever done. Our second show in Brisbane, our third in Australia but certainly one to remember. Saturday night at the Convention Centre was jumping and very full, but last night’s audience were as smart as a whip and with us from the start. Even when John’s radio mic started to make strange gun-shot noises it got funnier, as John dived under the desk to hide. I always love it when things go wrong, and so do the audience because you are really with them in that moment and they know you are ad libbing. As it was we were simultaneously relaxed and completely involved. The work we had done on the Saturday show brought the first Act down to 58 minutes, but last night we did it in 53. It was tight, and fast.
Adrian (Bohm) our thoughtful and kindly Promoter noticed too.
“Great show” he said at the end.
“I think we’re ready for Sydney” I said, ever the optimistic pessimist.
A snobby thing to say I suppose since Brisbane had just given us three standing ovations on both nights. What I meant was, the larger cities demand more and you have to bring your best game. Yes we were funny in Florida but would we be funny in New York? I wasn’t sure. Now I think we might be getting there. Not that we’re going. Today we’re going to Adelaide, which is in the middle of a Comedy Festival, and we do two show’s tomorrow and Wednesday before heading on to Canberra. Our truck left last night and will only just make the show. Hopefully…
Ours is an interesting evening because it is partly autobiographical and partly sketch comedy and partly ad lib sit down comedy. Now we are adding elements of bickering and banter, which the audience love. I got John totally in the Q and A, when he said he was thinking of coming to live a few months of the year in Oz with his wife.
“You’re going to live with your wife?” I asked naively and the audience howled so much John left the stage.
There is a sweet element of kindly bickering now, and even when we talk about the other Pythons there is a warmth to it. Yes we can stick the boot in, but it has affection, and recognises that we’ve known each other fifty years.
John telling my favourite story of his waking up Michael Palin on the phone in Helsinki and pretending to be a Norwegian journalist downstairs in his hotel waiting to interview him with a film crew is the best I have ever heard him do it. Michael protests that he is in his pyjamas, to which John says “The Norwegian audience will find that very amusing.” I won’t spoil it, because it has so many great lines in it, but John was masterful last night.
I started the day in the Opera Suite, yes honestly, at the Sofitel, by taking a car for a three hour drive around Brisbane. It’s a thing I like to do. You get some idea of where you are and Ray my driver was helpful and filled with useful information. For instance I didn’t know it was Queer Month in February here…
He drives me through Fortitude Valley and when I ask what on earth that was named after he says it’s the area the streetwalkers worked. Hooker Valley. Hm. Who had the fortitude? The girls or the customers? We pass Kangaroo cliff, and many odd pub signs, my favourites being The Bitter Suite, and The Foraging Quail. He takes me to The Avid Reader in West End, a lovely bookshop with a nice café, which seems to be hosting several reading groups. I pose for a photo with one of them, and ask what their book was like.
“Not much good” says one chap, so I suggest they download The Writer’s Cut.
“It’s very short” I say.
“Oh we like short” he replies.
“And filthy of course.”
“Perfect” he responds.
Since I posed for a pikkie I think it’s the least they can do!
We pass the Four X Brewery, and Ray asks me why it’s called XXXX?
“Because they can’t spell beer.”
I laugh and tell him I’m going to knick that tonight, and I do in the Bruces and it gets a big laugh. Thanks Ray.
So we drive round the city and then on up to Mount Coot-Tha, which reveals splendid views of the entire area, and I finally get my bearings. There’s the Port, there’s the Gold Coast, that way to the Sunshine Coast. The broad Brisbane river threads like silver embroidery through the fast growing sky line. It’s only when you look at the display panels from 1866 that you realise just how fast Brisbane has risen. It’s wonderful at night Ray says, and I’m sure it is, but I have a date at the Convention Centre. However it starts a nice chain of thought about accusing Aussies of being ungrateful for their free passage out of the rainy shithole of England into their wonderful paradise. It goes over very well later.
“They didn’t even have to pay for their passage” I say in outraged terms.
“And what do they do to thank us?” John picks up, “Beat us at cricket.”
To end a wonderful Sunday, after the show I get back to the hotel to find the chef has left me some cheese and goodies and half a bottle of fine red and the Spurs game is kicking off live… doesn’t get better than that, with your pants on (as Mike Nichols would always add!)