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Comedy Festival: Opening night by Lawrence Leung

Wake up in fright. Anxious. Alone. It wasn’t a nightmare. It’s my subconscious telling me: ‘Wake up. Today’s the big day. Your Comedy Festival show is opening tonight!’ Okay, maybe it is a nightmare. Curl up in foetal position.
Wake up in fright. Curse myself for falling back asleep. Comedians traditionally don’t wake up until 10, 11, um… lunch. But today is an exception. I’ll have breakfast.
My brand new show Lawrence Leung’s Part Time Detective Agency is onstage at 9.30pm, which means I have all day to rehearse and check my Facebook event to see if anyone is coming.

I need to re-learn my lines after some last-minute changes. I performed another trial show last night that went well, but the show is a few minutes too long. Now I have the agonising task of deciding what material to cut? All of the gags are like my children. Of course some are smarter, some are more stupid and some stink more than others. But they’re my kids and I love them all. After opening night this may change.
I find it helpful to rehearse in a setting that resembles my venue. I rearrange my lounge room to mimic my theatre space. It looks very accurate to how I imagine it to be, right down to the fact there is no laughter or ticket holders. The show will be at the Swiss Club on Flinders Lane so I consider hiring a bunch of Swiss men to drink loudly in the next room. But there’s no time or room in the production budget.
For the next couple of hours I stand in my lounge room alone, talking to furniture and holding a fork as a microphone. I draw the curtains closed in case the postman sees me.
Realise I haven’t made a Facebook event for my show. Stress. Everyone else in the Comedy Festival has made a Facebook event that their friends will ignore. Why didn’t I do this three weeks ago? I’ll do it when I get home after the radio interview.
ABC Studios in Southbank. I’m doing an interview with Francis Leach on 774Drive. I come prepared. I’m going to explain how my show is all about my love of detectives and mysteries and that the audience has a chance to solve a real-life crime with me during the show. A big news story is unfolding with ‘live’ crosses to correspondents, so the interview is brisk and cut shorter than expected. It’s a blur. I drive home wondering if the only thing I spoke about was how those CSI crime shows are obsessed with finding semen. Nice job, Leung! Highest-rating ABC radio slot… Lawrence Leung… semen.
Remember to eat lunch.
Arrive at the Swiss Club. The usher tells me that all shows are running late because one of the speakers malfunctioned earlier on in the night. I stand in a kitchen for an hour reading my script and listening to Jeff Green’s audience laughing through the wall. He’s doing great. I’m getting excited.
My show begins half an hour late. Despite the audience having to wait for so long, they are a fantastic, friendly crowd. The Easter long weekend has begun so there’s no work tomorrow. They are in a good spirits. Thanks Jesus.
Opening night is always a peculiar beast for a comedian – it’s full of adrenaline and fear – but when the first joke hits and the crowd laughs, it’s electric. It’s why we do it. There are about 20 more nights. I’m looking forward to every one of them.
Dinner. Remember to avoid the potato cakes on Swanston Street.
Bedtime. Realise I haven’t made my Facebook event yet. Damn. I’ll do it tomorrow.
Lawrence Leung’s brand new show, Part Time Detective Agency. is at the Swiss Club, 89 Flinders Lane until 21 April.