Raw Comedy 2018: What Went Wrong

Short version: Because some of you don’t like reading, the short version is some of the pictures I showed were too small… and other stuff.

 

Educational Version:

“You should do the pictures.”

“Do that pictures story.”

“Gosh that’s a good bit. Do the pictures.”

“It’s pictures for me.”

And more over the advice I had was to do the pictures routine. I planned to do another routine, two of my dating short stories. No pictures. Just three spoons and words. I don’t regret the change. Don’t get me wrong. The support and successful expectation was too much to ignore.

The routine I did involves pictures, where I tell a story and use images as comic breaks and narrative. It’s worked in the bars I’ve performed in before, and it was expected that the novelty of the pictures, compared to those doing “normal” stand-up, would elevate me above the pack at Raw. At least, that was the advice.

Raw Comedy is a stand-up comedy competition in Australia. All of Australia. It’s a big competition. Entrants are non-professionals. Those who don’t get booked. Those who get paid with a free drink, if at all. Those who wait for hours at open mic nights to try their routine on a stage after everyone has gone home. It’s not for the cream of the crop, but it does find the cream by weeding out the chaff. If you get my meaning.

So I had this pictures routine. Practiced and ready. As said, it’s gotten a great response previously. Often people would tell me how they enjoyed it after a show. In fact, the audience at Raw Comedy seemed to enjoy it too. So why didn’t the judges?

My set went okay. Fine really. I made a couple of stumbles but nothing anyone seemed to notice or mention afterwards. I did notice the crowd didn’t respond to some pictures as quickly as crowds usually do. You see, unlike the small rooms I’d performed in before, this Heat of Raw Comedy was performed in a genuine theatre. Seats leading far to the back of the room. If I held a hand out, the body of some people would appear to fit into my palm. Imagine from that distance looking at a laminated sheet of paper and getting the joke on it. The judges were near the back, and they didn’t get the best view. While much of the crowd was okay, two people mentioned that one picture was not identifiable enough. If you look at the picture attached to this report, maybe you can decide for yourself. Is it what it should look like?

Furthermore a friend was a judge. Fully impartial, as my failure would attest. Her advice following was for some of the pictures to be bigger, and for myself to be more of an identity. The Raw competition likes to have personalities or characters on stage. Stories about characters. I’m not a personality. I’m more of a facts and figures kind of guy. At least, that’s normally all people ask of me. Do I even have a personality? I don’t know. That’s not what the pictures routine is about. It’s about events. Funny thing is that the dating stories I originally planned to do is more of a character piece.

Anyway, her advice didn’t reference a minor stumble of words or any error in content. She gave a couple of keen ideas on improvements, but nothing life changing. So while it could have been funnier, the easiest fix for Raw Comedy was to consider the scale of the room, and to tell a story of personal or character insights rather than just events.

Maybe that will work next time. If there’s a next time for me.

(The educational version is much more educational, right?)

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Anatomy of a Book: Good Omen’s, by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett

God does not play dice with the universe; He plays an ineffable game of His own devising, which might be compared, from the perspective of the other players (ie: everybody), to being involved in an obscure and complex version of poker in a pitch-dark room, with blank cards, for infinite stakes, with a Dealer who won’t tell you the rules, and who smiles all the time. (p.12)

The world is created by God on the 21st of October.

(Therefore)…the Earth’s a Libra. (p.12)

It has been inhabited for thousands of years, with plenty of jokes about dinosaurs that very few people get, until the end of the world comes.

THIS IS THE BIG ONE CROWLEY… AND IF IT GOES WRONG, THEN THOSE INVOLVED WILL SUFFER GREATLY, EVEN YOU, CROWLEY, ESPECIALLY YOU. (p.19)

And while Heaven and Hell have plans for their big war, plans they have been working on for a while and would really like to make use of since there was all that planning and gosh what a waste if not, however for one demon, Crowley, and one angle, Aziraphale, the Earth has become somewhat of a home and while they have their duties, they’d also like to keep their life styles.

Firstly, angles simply don’t dance. (p.235)

How can this balance out, if they’re fighting the ultimate powers to prevent the inevitable subscribed and prescribed conclusion of Earth? It is done with humour and the requirements of a good book.

Changing Status:

There’s a demon who’s, arguably, doing good and an angle who’s, arguably, doing evil, and a young boy who’s going to become the Anti-Christ whether he likes the sound of that or not.

High Stakes:

How’s the end of the world for s stake? Not enough? What about some romances, friendships, and detailing on a really well-kept Bentley.

Page Turner:

There’s some stuttering here. Time does skip to keep following important happenings, but then halts with sideline characters. These add some extra gags about the human condition, but the humour alone might not keep the pages turning. Overall the pace and humour match well.

Believable Characters:

They have a seriousness and change in character but also have the consistent approach to their minor concerns and flaws that make for good humour.

Educate:

How do we avoid the reckoning and rapture of Armageddon? Is that important enough to keep reading?

Personally this line works: If I was in charge, I’d try makin’ people live a lot longer, like ole Methuselah. It’d be a lot more interestin’ and they might start thinkin’ about the sort of things they’re doing to all the enviroment and ecology, because they’ll still be around in a hundred years’ time.” (p.335)

Anatomy of a Book: Breakfast at Tiffany’s, by Truman Capote

but actually we’d never been strong friends except in as much as we were both friends of Holly Golightly. (p.10)

A writer meets a friend and it spurs memories of someone who departed their lives. That being Holly Golightly.

as the days merged I began to feel towards her certain far-fetched resentments, as if I were being neglected by my closest friend. (p.30)

What relationship does the writer have with Holly Golightly?

anybody with their nose pressed against a glass is liable to look stupid. (p.47)

In its course people change, relationships change, and friends stay loyal. This story is witty, concise, and holds some classic story elements.

Changing Status:

Low class woman enjoys fine class surrounds.

High Stakes:

Then the future of her surrounds beings to look bleak.

Page Turner:

Enjoyable read with wit and a just enough movement on each page to keep the reader intrigued.

Believable Characters:

towards the end of the month I found a job: what is there to add? (p.54)

The characters feel, act and react with the humdrum of reality. The fun thing it that Holly Golightly is not humdrum.

Educate:

Who is Holly Golightly, and what would a women of that history do to secure their future?

Anatomy of a Book: A Walk in the Wood, by Bill Bryson

Not long after I moved with my family to a small town in New Hampshire I happened upon a path that vanished into a wood on the edge of town. (p.11)

He’s straight into the story.

Running more than 2,100 miles along America’s eastern seaboard, through the serene and beckoning Appalachian Mountains, the AT is the granddaddy of long hikes. (p.11)

And the details.

Daniel Boone, who not only wrestled bears but tried to date their sisters, described corners of the southern Appalachians as ‘so wild and horrid that it is impossible to behold them without terror’. (p.66)

With a good sense of humour. That’s how Bill Bryson often works, and he often uses the following traits.

Changing Status:

In this story it is predominantly Katz, an friend of Bryson, who has the major change. While neither are seasoned hikers, Katz is the least equipped for the trail they embark on.

High Stakes:

The first chapter contains a long outline of danger that befoul the travelling two, including bear attack and snake bite. They could die.

Page Turner:

A movie was made of this book, and used the notion of a determined quest as an anchor and drive for the story. This same quest is openly absent from the book. It is readable for other reasons.

Believable Characters:

Bill Bryson’s voice is friendly and endearing to the reader, as though listening (through reading) to an entertaining friend. Not everyone may enjoy the style, though it does paint characters well.

She regarded us with the crinkled squint of someone who is either chronically confused or can’t see very well. (p.73)

Educate:

Throughout the book are details of the Trail’s history, relatable and educational experiences of hiking, stories about American wildlife and fauna, and often bizarrely inept examples of American nature preservation.

Anatomy of a Book: Blast From the Past, by Ben Elton

Only someone bad would ring at such an hour. (p.7)

The phone in Polly’s flat is calling.

The caller did know where Polly lived. (p.9)

Polly has a stalker, named Peter.

I shouldn’t be hugging you, Jack.’ (p.88)

And to complicate things Polly’s former lover, Jack, has arrived at her door. There is more than one reason why Jake has visited Polly, and the exposing is done with classic story elements.

Changing Status:

The status most prevalent is the difference between Jack, an American four-star general, and Polly, a lonely anti-war activist. Jack wears his full-dress military uniform in Polly’s messy apartment, and is hesitant to reveal why he is there.

High Stakes:

Life and reputation, however for the lives and reputations to matter one must care about the characters.

Page Turner:

Why is Jack in the room? He is reluctant to explain his motives for visiting Polly after many years of separation. This ploy is sued by Elton to keep the reader curious.

As the book is set mostly in Polly’s room, it could be better suited as a stage play. This is because what holds the book back are tales of the couple’s history, wedged between sections in the first part of the book. Without them a stage play would have a better pace.

Believable Characters:

There is a lot of background information, however the character of Jack does not hold particularly well. His long speeches as he and Polly argue over the role of the army don’t fit with someone in his status position and with his intention in the room.

Educate:

Elton is using status imbalance, single room scene, a character’s secret, and a stalker’s pressure as hooks to make the story engrossing. What he actually wants to do is outline the role of the armed forces, keenly the type of people they need to be compared with the behaviour expected of them (which is to do murderous things and be pious). That is an interesting discussion that is shoehorned into a story, and might have been better set in a more believable premise.

Anatomy of a Book: The Bible, by Various Contributors

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. (p.1)

I haven’t read the whole book.

Now these are the generations of Pharez: Pharez begat Hezron, and Hezron begat Ram, and Ram begat Amminadab, and Amminadab begat Nahshon, and Nahshon begat Salmon, and Salmon begat Boaz, and Boaz begat Obed, and Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David. (p. 619)

I have read passages, seen the movies and listened to speeches on the topic.

When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. (p. 2012)

I can still safely identify the narrative components that help explain this literally success.

Changing Status:

Slaves are freed, the sick are healed, water becomes wine, and when the character of Jesus appears in the second half of the book, he is immaculately conceived and born as the son of God, yet lives as a poor carpenter who is persecuted for his good deeds.

High Stakes:

The souls of all humanity are at risk.

Page Turner:

Some excellent prose and miraculous short stories gave enjoyment above some repetitive sections.

Interestingly the word Bible comes from Byblos, the town in Lebanon where the first library was formed, and derived from the word papyrus, for paper. The Bible was a collection of papers in Byblos – also where the word Bibliography is from.

Believable Characters:

The world is created, quite literally, in the first part of the book. In some quarters this could be seen as an information dump, though it does set up the influence God and other characters have over everything in the second half.

Educate:

There is a useful list of commandments, a few sermons, and many parables that preach on best how to morally live life.

Anatomy of a Book: Leave it to Psmith, by PG Wodehouse

Fifty-odd years of serene and unruffled placidity had given Lord Emsworth a curiously moss-covered look. (p.9)

We are introduced to Lord Emsworth.

‘Hear you’ve lost your glasses, guv’nor.’ (p.11)

We are introduced to Freddie Threepwood, and his language.

Her eyes were large and grey, and gentle – and incidentally misleading, for gentle was hardly the adjective which anybody who knew her would have applied to Lady Constance. (p.14)

And we are introduced to Lady Constance. It is not until much later that we are introduced to the book’s lead character, Psmith.

‘The p, I should add for your guidance, is silent, as in phthisis, psychic, and ptarmigan. You follow me?’ (p.35)

It is unusual to have the lead introduced late, however this blip on the routine story sequence would be allowed by the reader for the following reasons.

Changing Status:

There are imposters at Blandings Castle, acting as more important people than they claim as robbery is a motive for some. Will they be found out?

High Stakes:

There are consequences to being uncovered as frauds, plus the romances and relationships of almost everyone are intertwined, whether they know this or not, and, in what will become a continual theme of Wodehouse novels, the challenge of ‘..love would come after marriage.’ (p.184) is posed at a point of antiquated English values.

Page Turner:

Events do unfold rapidly, and while the traditional story structure is loose, the joy of the writing allows for the reader to wish to continue reading.

Believable Characters:

This is Blandings Castle, all the characters have flaws which other people either admire or fear, yet each is not convinced of their own flaws, thus they are true to themselves and are also endearing. Being human is to have flaws, and so the reader can relate to the flawed, and enjoy the results of the character’s interactions within the society they exist.

Educate:

It must be highlighted that this is the first novel by Wodehouse. There is much he shows over the course of his books, including when and how to use terms such as: gosh, old thing, I say, rummy, a bit off, golly! and (from p.184) pip-pip, toodle-oo, what!, and right-ho!

All the Wodehouse books are ‘Splendid!’ said the young man, flicking a speck of dust from his coat-sleeve. ‘Splendid! Splendid!’ (p.35)