Hi sports fans. Melbourne, Saturday 2 April and I’m at the Comedy Festival rather than playing for my beloved Eureka FC. My team, the Mighty Sevenths are currently ‘versing’ Casino at home and I feel a bit sick. I have what the Welsh call Hiraeth, a longing for home, a large part of mine these days is where we play our games in the Byron shire hinterland. Sniff. Can’t wait to hear the result and tales of daring do. As we say at the Club, Forza Eureka!
The festival is a fantastic experience (and utterly knackering!). The first show was good, a decent crowd of 50 but I was a bit off - went on 10 minutes too long - it was still a great night. The second show was much better, one of the best so far. A smaller crowd of twenty-odd but maybe microfinance comedy works better with a micro-crowd. Small is beautiful, in every way, every day of the week. Much bigger names play to smaller houses at festivals, so the numbers are fine by me. The point of this adventure has always been to tell the story, connect with people and get the audiences to think about a whole world so different from the one we live in here in Australia.
I just realised I’ve only done 20 performances including the initial early readings. It’s been a wonderful time, learning how to do it (still going, obviously!), and meeting so many people – from the DASSAN refugee support group in Darwin, to Bangladeshi folks in Brisbane and Newcastle, talking to Phillip Adams on Late Night Live and meeting academics and practitioners who do microfinance for a living in the real world. And people like Terry Tricky at the club last night who said he loved it, and said ‘good on you for doing … um … intellectual comedy’. Terry had had a few. I’m also hugely grateful to Good Return for their support of the show and audiences are being introduced to the great work they do across Asia and the Pacific. This has always been about telling a story to make the difference that I didn’t quite manage with my early forays into the world of microfinance. Slowly that is starting to change, and that’s pretty cool.
And … I’m convinced now that there’s a broader place for humour in tackling serious subjects. Obviously comedy news programs have been kinda do that for years but shows like mine, modest as they are, could be different and get people to do stuff. I hope the show makes people think, while they’re laughing and enjoying a yarn, about things they’ve not thought so much about. And eventually act, in some way. To me the need for action – personal political action - is more pressing by the day, from poverty and inequality, to climate change and debates about the invasion of this country, and the on-going human rights abuses of our first people – the need is endless. The challenge is overwhelming. And humour can help. It’s as simple as that. Supporting microfinance for all its flaws is a practical way of engaging politically in the world. I believe that.
So I hope this show places a small role, a micro-role, in shining a light on microfinance – a micro-world unto itself that really tells the story of our planet … with beautiful people doing beautiful things, trying to make sense of this mad life, trying to raise families in the face of oppression, trying to stay beautiful despite the ugliness of government and the indifference of so many.
Melbourne makes sense as the venue this week – a city of human scale, with its cute old cottages, groovy laneway pokey bars and the vein of old school communitarian socialism that somehow survives today. One more show at the festival then it’s on to Albury and Sydney next weekend, then Canberra after that. Can’t wait for tonight, meeting friends new and old, hearing the laughter and the small coins drop as we connect to the better parts of ourselves.
I’m off to check the price of cauliflower in Newport today.