And Give Up Showbiz?

Last Thursday was the opening of Tim Smith’s and my show “Breaking Dad”. There was the impending Easter holiday, the first game of footy for the season on television and the behemoth that is The Melbourne International Comedy Festival conspiring to rob us of any potential audience, but Tim and I are glass half-full kind of guys no matter the odds. Our guest was Shane Bourne, AFI award winning actor and the father of Melbourne comedy (see what we did there?), but things operate differently with pubs and entertainment these days. Years ago if you put a show on at a pub they would put a listing in The Age and even take out an ad, but no longer. I tried to get an impro show up at the WesleyAnne on High St a few years back, but it didn’t catch on. The manager sauntered up to me and asked when our friends would be coming along?

“We don’t have friends, mate, just punters who pay to see the funniest show in town. We’ve got the four most hilarious improvisers in the country and we’re arranging for guests like Tony Martin and Glen Robbins. Couldn’t you at least advertise us?”

“It doesn’t work like that anymore,” he replied, “we book an acoustic duo, they bring 50 of their friends, charge $10 at the door and we get the bar.”

So the burden has fallen to the performers to devise, promote, and provide an audience while the venue provides a roof. The Comedy Festival has changed the landscape too. Previously comedy flowed all year round, but now people mostly go to comedy for the month of April. The festival charges local acts $500 and provides a venue around the Town hall and a listing in the Comedy festival programme. Anyone can front the cash and call themselves a comedian these days. The Comedy Festival also brings out the international acts and promotes them in, what I like to call, the Eddie McGuire two hats economic model.

The Maori Chief was near empty last Thursday, but our 30 seat room upstairs looked great. Nearing 7.30pm only a few friends and punters had turned up, so we invited the dozen guys having a drink after work on the balcony in for a free show to fill out the audience. Shane Bourne was hilarious and very open about his father, who was a big band leader in the fifties, but absent through a lot of his childhood (a common theme for those in the entertainment industry). A funny thing happened as the show progressed, despite our attempts to mock, trivialise and make fun of fatherhood and fathers, the show had heart. A young lad of 15 years or so dashed out half way through the show and told his dad, who was watching the footy, that he had to come in to see this. Everyone had a great time, Shane told us that Maurie Fields was like a second father to him and punters wanted to tell us about their fathers after the show.

There are only three more shows to go each Friday. This Friday Greg Fleet is our guest, so there will be over 100 years of comedy experience on stage with weirdness and cacks aplenty. The show starts at 7.30pm, $15 at the door or you can book through the Maori Chief on 9696 5363. Or you can sit at at home and watch the footy (even if it’s not your team), but we’re on to something here and our glasses are still half full.


Matt Q Fatherhood Flyer





  1. Rick Kane says

    I reckon this show is worth an Almanacers night out. I’m thinking 17 April. Who’s in? Let’s get a team down to the Maori Chief and break some bread, sup some wine and enjoy Matt and Tim (and guest) in Breaking Dad.


  2. Carlton vs Eagles on TV this Friday Matt.

    You might need a bigger room.

  3. I like the way you think Truckster.

    A feed, some larffs and good company. Let’s do this!

  4. Hear Hear

  5. sounds like a beauty

  6. Great idea Rick. I can’t make it next week, so will head down tomorrow night.

  7. Rick Kane says

    Hi Bakes, Dips and JTH and any other interested Almanacers

    Are you still planning on getting along this Friday night? Let’s meet at 7pm at the pub and make our way upstairs for a good laugh.


  8. Peter Fuller says

    Need this bumped, especially in view of Troy Thompson’s enthusiastic review. I’m keen to go, but don’t feel inclined to drag in from the outer east unless there is a quorum of Almanackers.

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