There’s nothing quite like the terror of opening night. This year it was even more extreme for me because I am doing a brand new show. Often, comics turn up at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival with a show that they’ve run in at Melbourne Fringe Festival or Adelaide Fringe or the Brisbane Comedy Festival. Not me. Not this year. And boy did I know about it when I woke up at 5am on Thursday, sat bolt upright and yelled out ‘Help me, Jesus’.
I got up and went for a huge walk with my dog, Keith. That’s how I’ve been learning my script this year. Keith and I walk around and around Brunswick while I repeat the script out loud. Other dog owners move quickly away when they see me coming. ‘Here comes that girl who talks to herself in a range of accents and her small terrier who thinks he’s tougher than all the other dogs in the park.’ He is tougher. He’s a tough unit.
By the time I reached Melbourne Town Hall I’d moved from the terror stage into acceptance and even excitement. It’s a relief and a joy to see the rest of the comics standing around anxiously in front of the infamous blackboard. We’re all in it together. The Comedy Festival is a bit like a demented school camp for dysfunctional people. Any visit to the Festival Club at the Hi Fi after midnight will tell you that.
Then it was time for my show. I stood in a small space between the curtain and a wall and listened as everyone came into the room. I heard a bit of ‘Hope it’s as good as last year’ and ‘This had better end on time because I’m going to see Dave Hughes’. Then the lights went down and I was off…
Anne Edmonds’ new show, The Quarter Cabbage is on at Melbourne Town Hall, 120 Swanston Street until 21 April.