Off Season Odyssey – Part 12: Aussie Humour

AUSSIE HUMOUR.

 

“No tribal colours,” the bouncer tells me, holding his hand out.

We both look at the North jumper I’m wearing.

“It’s okay, he’s with the band,” Gav says.

“I know the band,” the bouncer says.

He’s from Warrnambool. So are the Monaros. Like the King and Queen are from England, and David Boon is Tasmania.

“Not well enough,” says Jack, and we enter.

I first met the Monaros on radio. Work on the coops was relentless. I was doing a stupid little show after training on Tuesdays, to let off steam.

Comedy and live music, over an hour’s drive over the mountains from home in the coastal valleys.

Squeezed into the one tin-pot room above a sports store that night, were: the band, their gear, a dominatrix, a bloated ex-wrestler called The Perculator, a few loose units from Apollo Bay, at least one random I’d pulled in off the street, and a couple of cruisers who’d also driven over the ranges, from the Wye River inlet, just to bare witness.

All for an insomniac audience of about five confused farmers.

I put on two slabs as a thank you to the band for their four hours of driving. By the end of the show everybody bar the driver was rotten. I played an old 60s garage number 14 times until we were running over an hour into the next program, and everybody there knew every line. All of us crushed in, thumping up and down in time, playing and singing it line for line.

After that we became mates pretty easy. A servo attendant, two abattoir employees and a bush worker.

Sam, the guitarist, was, and is, the most laconic surfie dude you would ever want to meet. Gav, the bassist, is sharp, funny. Nothing gets by him.

Jack, the drummer, played 250-odd games for Old Collegians. He was a ratbag on the wing. Fast and always ready to throw shit at anyone already too full of it. Three years after we met, and many drinking sessions later, he wrote Blue and White Stripes, about Wayne Carey’s reason for leaving North Melbourne.

It’s rude, and crude, and well, funny.

Not nice, but funny.

The boys have released five albums, over 13 years, of tight, gutsy pub pop-rock. Shades of garage, shades of grunge, lots of Ian Moss in Sam’s songs, lots of Punk in Jack’s. Timeless rock and humour in Gav’s. 202 Holden, Grog Stomp, Romeo and Juliet, Toaster, Gutter Child. A brilliant mix of hurt, life, Aussie themes, Aussie culture and humour.They should have been famous. I believe that. A lot of people do.

They. Should. Have. Been. Famous.

But typical yobbos, they never really sent their music to anyone in the cities.

When they came down to Nowhere Tassie to play a fundraiser for the

Juniors team I was coaching – an 18 hour round trip including long highways, planes and lifts to and from airports into the mountains, not asking for a single cracker – I’d burnt a few songs for a handful of the locals. Those CD. must have done the rounds, because by the time the family part of the night – a mock Footy Show – was done, the kids gone, and the Monaros got on stage, the chant was up, almost delirious:

“BLUE AND WHITE STRIPES!”

“BLUE AND WHITE STRIPES!”

The place was full. The whole damn town was chanting!

When they ripped into it, the crowd went off like Roman candles!

Everybody loopy! They had to sing it twice before they were left off stage again.

The Monaros have written some fine songs, some great songs. Classics. I hope history favours them. The Wayne Carey song probably isn’t the best of them. Yet everywhere they go, Blue and White Stripes resonates.

While we’re waiting for Sammy to show up, I ask Gav how come?

“Because it’s a corker!” he growls. “I love it!”

“What do you reckon Wayne would think of it?” I ask.

“He’d love it,” Jack says. “Secretly, I reckon. ”

Gav laughs. “He’d tell his mates: ‘What is this shit? Get it off!’

Then, when no-one was looking, sneak back and go: ‘Oh, yeah.'”

Next thing I know, Sammy, the guitarist, is there, and I’m up on stage, dressed as the Great Man, doing the intro.

It takes a footy song to get me thinking about the nature of Aussie comedy. Not the Festival  stuff, but the Kevin Bloody Wilsons, the Rodney Rudes, the Twelfth Men. The straight down the line stuff that says a lot about who we are as a country, rather than what many of us want us to be seen as, or to be.

Humour is like Jack, with that ratbag streak, that bit wrong, because it says what it thinks, torpedoes be damned, and keep us honest.

It’s the first time the Monaros have done their annual summer show at the Whaler’s Inn. It’s a full-house. There’s a mix of old and new fans and confused nightclubbers. I get invited to intro the song. The crowd laugh and go loopy.

I pull a $6 rubber footy out, baulk and dummy the band as if I’m GaryJr, show the pill to the sound man, shaking and snarling as if I’m James Manson letting Robert Shaw know he was a sell-out for leaving Fitzroy, take a hanger over the security nearest the stage, a la Brian Wood v South Melbourne, then kick it into the audience, where it’s marked by some kid celebrating his 18th, or something.

Mid-song, the footy makes its way back to me. Some woman claws at it, then my arm, then punches me in the ribs. She’s determined, so I give her the thing.

I’m assuming she’s going to kick it, but she stuffs it under her jumper, all serious, major effort, then storms out of the building looking over her shoulder, even though the cover charge is worth twice as much as the footy.

I dunno, none of the Monaros have made a cracker off music. But everybody who’s heard them, loves them. Most people who have heard Blue and White Stripes love it.

Aussie humour, no-one ever said it was DAINTY.

Comments

  1. Matty! – where does the “hot nights cool dragons” soundtrack fit into the early radio broadcasts!? – i think i still have a copy of it somewhere!?!?

  2. Matt Zurbo says:

    Yeah, yeah, “22”, you knew me when…!

    One or two of you Banditos used to love playing The Monaros on those long drives from Balarat to the Otways…

  3. gav monaro says:

    great writing matty it is these little things said that are worth way more to the monaros than fame or money . Aussie humor will never die as long as one australian can talk to another australian . thanks mate goodonya.

  4. monaros. blue and white stripes. google it.

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