But in local government, the rich seam of comedy gold
will never run dry .
I decide to collaborate with a mate, Fiona Clare for the 2011 MICF show.
Collaborating means lower costs, double the marketing and only half a script to write.
We both have very different comedy styles. Fiona is full of whimsy and is a singer song writer, my delivery is dry and acerbic and I don’t sing or play anything.
In deciding the format, the content and the show title, we acknowledge our different styles, but concede that Béchamel is a pretty name for a sauce, but a cruel name for a child.
The show is inclusive and accessible, it has a cry baby session and complimentary tickets are given to arts access members, the set is home made and crafty and the cure for head lice is simple yet startling.
The show opens with me standing Neanderthal like, shoulders hunched, I am stooped, my chin is pushed out and I say:
Underwhelmed, underpaid, undervalued. Feeling like a victim.
Then I left the not for profit sector and took my first swipe card – into local government.
Since the birth of Jessica, the hovering in dark dingy comedy rooms, the trip to comedy perdition and back, I have kept writing, kept honing, kept watching other comics and slowly understood that the funniest material I can write is about the what I find funny, not what I think others will find funny.
I learn over time that my delivery style is dry, the drier the better, the sparser the content, it is laden with irony, deep sarcasm and a smattering of self deprecation.
I no longer angst over each word when I write now. Often it is the rhythm of a joke I am interested in, or an idea and how it links with another idea. I perform knowing know how to start the joke and where it will finish, but the journey to get to the punchline is not always devised giving the material spontaneity and freshness.
The discipline of doing a MICF show every year becomes de rigueur. Before one show is finished another show is germinating. I write all year, keeping notebooks from all of the gigs I have done. Developing a new show every year is about challenging myself, making sure that I craft the comedy, hone a story, make a satisfying show and honor the creative process by writing the best jokes possible. It is also about creating a product, getting a good marketing image and committing 100% to the delivery. It helps committing 100% because if you believe in the material and enjoy it , so to will the audience.
For the béchamel show, the easy part of the writing was the not for profit, local government material. Each day at work, as a local government officer ,there was always a new rich vein of comedy gold opened up that just had to be mined. The material was tweaked and added to for each show, there really was no end to the humour within the hallowed halls of bureaucracy.
In béchamel I take my first swipe card into local government:
It is lovely in there, all bright and shiny. On my desk when I arrive, there is a pile of stationary: post it notes, high lighters, even on my telephone my name is on it, should I momentarily forget who I am:
Local government Justine Sless speaking.
I begin working in earnest. I have been employed to develop an intercultural centre. When I went for the interview I was asked to give my definition of interculturalism:
It’s Japenese, it’s people from Iran, from Iraq, from Italy, I intertwine my fingers to demonstrate the inter part of the word, I get the job.
My first day at local government I create a community engagement strategy. It’s all flow charts, arrows pointing in different directions and nice colors.
After a while, my wrist begins to ache a bit because there is no mouse pad.
I ask Maria, the administration support worker , if I could possibly get a mouse pad. Maria hands me a book about the size of a yellow pages book.
Here Maria says, here use this.
I put my wrist on the book, it’s a bit uncomfortable but I reckon I can manage. I continue working. After a short period of time I sense that Maria is watching me.
Justine, she says,
Justine that book I gave you.
That is the office stationary order book.
Oh I say, sorry ,I have just left the not for profit sector and we are used to just making do.
I leave local government and start working in education and this is what happens:
Janine comes into the office and Lisel goes up to her and says:
Janine under your white trousers we can all see your green underpants.
All that day Janine had to wear her long black jacket, so that we could not see her green underpants.
Just then the telephone rings and Valerie answers it.
Education Valerie speaking. Yes, yes oh yes, oh ok right then ok, fair enough ok then bye.
We all tap our computer key boards, avert our gaze and pretend like we weren’t listening.
Then Valerie tells us. Apparently her husband John had been to the Aldi supermarket to buy a travel hair dryer. When he gets there, all that is left is a lurid purple colored one, so he doesn’t buy it.
Oh Valerie, Oh mate I say I hope that hasn’t ruined your holiday.
Australian politics is a lot like English High Tea.
There are three layers ,which is lovely, but it’s a bit much.