FOR WANT OF A BETTER WORD: "COMEDY"
I started doing standup in 2009. My schtick for a long time was being erudite and pompous and esoteric and going on elaborate flights of fancy and deconstructing jokes as I was telling them and never really expressing strong opinions or revealing anything substantial about myself. This was pre-trans times so my capacity for self-reflection was very limited; I'd see my favourite comedians spin gold out of stories from their lives and observations on their own thought processes and I'd think "yes! That's what I want to do!", and then I'd look deep inside myself and just see a shroud of fog concealing a terrifying secret, so I'd go back to writing bits about the Oracle at Delphi or the hanky code or my high school French textbook or whatever. (They were good bits though! I'm still proud of them! It's just hard to look back knowing why I was limited to that mode, that's all.)
Here's my first standup set after I came out:
This is a live recording of my (untitled?) performance on night 2 of FM[X]: What Would A Feminist Methodology Look Like?, at Firstdraft in Woolloomooloo, NSW, on 2 September 2016. I was on stage with a microphone, a Korg Electribe with programmed beats which I manipulated live, and a classic black rotary telephone.
My voice sounds very quiet when you first hear it but that's because I'm not speaking into the mic at first, only the rotary phone (I move to the mic very shortly after).
Context for the only two jokes you'll otherwise miss in the audio recording: there were crickets making noise outside the venue for the entire show, quite distracting on the night but barely audible in the recording; and near the end I "check" and "scroll" the rotary phone as if it's a smartphone.
I had months to think about the performance but I only started writing any of it down and arranging it into a structure in the final week (and even that might not have happened without a request from the Auslan interpreters). All the gripes and anxieties are real but if you think they could have been expressed more clearly or more thoughtfully you may well be right.
The piece is first and foremost a response to the invitation to perform at a feminist event in the first place, as a quite recently transitioning woman, and the scrutiny I anticipated I may be under. The performance mode was pretty much entirely inspired by Babyfather's 2016 album "BBF" Hosted By DJ Escrow. The purely fictional element of the story was inspired by interviews with writers, producers and other collaborators involved with Kanye West, Beyonce and Frank Ocean's most recent albums, and their thoughts on introducing their own creative work into the star's tumultuous world. The, ah, remarkable candour with which I speak about trans shit was inspired by Imogen Binnie's novel Nevada, and by countless freewheeling conversations with my friends, most of all Sarah and Shelly.
Thanks heaps to Frances and Danni for putting it all together and inviting me to be a part of it, and to Del for doing all the tech stuff and making the recording you're listening to now. I only wish it'd picked up the audience a bit more; trust me, there were LAFFS.
Here's the only straight-ahead standup set I did in 2016, for the Stand Up/Sit Down event at the National Young Writers Festival in Newcastle. (It's November 2016 as I write these words, but I have no plans to do any more in the next two months, so.) This is the happiest and most comfortable I've ever felt doing live comedy. It was a very warm and friendly crowd of youths and queers and artists and many people who were all three. Apologies for the imperfect sound quality again, we were in a still-operating coffee shop.