(A version of this piece was also published on the Indian news site WSN)
I was distracted this week by being on jury service and then being in bed for two days, sweaty and coughy and generally drippy from various parts of my body.
So I forgot that Australian performer John Robertson got married last Saturday to his girlfriend Jo Marsh in Perth (the Australian one) after eight years together.
Jo is Festival Director of the Perth International Comedy Festival.
“How did you two meet?” I asked.
“Jo was in a massive car accident,” explained John, “and ended up in a coma. At the same time, I auditioned on Australian Idol. There’s a clip of it on YouTube.
“Jo awoke from her coma in a hospital bed and turned on the TV – and saw that. She loved it.
“Months later, I went to see a play that her then-boyfriend was in. I didn’t think he was very good. The next day I ran into him in KFC and said I thought you were very good. He then went Australian Idol guy! My girlfriend loves you! and he put me on the phone to her. We had a great conversation. She can’t remember it, because she was high on morphine. I can, because I was high on recognition. A bit later, he left her. She met me at a party, recognised me from Australian Idol and, while she denies this, I said Hello. There are a lot of unattractive people about to fuck in that hot tub. I would like to go home. So we did.”
“Did you plan a traditional white wedding?” I asked John yesterday.
“Hell, no,” he told me. “That was the first thing we got rid of. We just smashed everything we loved into one big, beautiful clusterfuck. She’d always loved an urban farm covered in graffiti and chickens – so we thought we’d get married in their shed. We spent the first third of this year playing the video game Skyrim and said Look at those rusty cages holding those bones! Let’s make some and fill them with lights! Look at these black-and-white wall hangings covered with eyes. Could a priest stand in front of those and scare the shit out of everyone?
“So we were married by a priest in a fake cathedral made of lights and netting, inside in a shed, inside an urban farm with chickens and graffiti everywhere.
“Usually your groom and his mates are clustered in an awkward line somewhere near the celebrant and smiling nervously.
“My crew came through a door at the back of the room holding sparklers and marching to Motorhead. I’m a massive wrestling fan, so me walking about became two wrestling entrances – Triple H (Lemmy screaming It’s All About The Game And How You Play It!) and Shawn Michaels.
“Upon reaching the front, my crew formed a line behind me with the priest and wedding MC. When I dropped down to flex my biceps, they let off party poppers.
“Once we’d finished our ludicrous funsies, Tom Jones’ She’s a Lady rang out and comedian-turned-Mars One-astronaut-applicant Josh Richards walked out, performing some manner of dance with a Japanese fan.
“Soon after that, he was joined by another bridesmaid, doing the same thing.
“And then they were both grabbed by Jo’s sister and hauled to the front – whereupon YEAAHHH! – the opening scream from Tom Jones’ If I Only Knew rang out… And out walked my father-in-law – a 6′ 3” grey-mulletted Texan in full black formal cowboy gear with a ten gallon hat on.
“He gestured and BOOM – there stood Jo, pale and lovely in a white and blood-red corset, massive hoop skirt and five-mile long train. She marched up the aisle as the whole crowd clapped and danced to It’s Not Unusual.
“Then we cried a bit which, for a man in a striped suit with cowboy boots and anime hair, is a fun thing to do.
“The sermon was performed by comedian-turned-priest Chris Bedding. The MCing and crowd-threatening was done by comedian Werzel Montague. The Flaming Lips’ song Do You Realize?? was sung and strummed on ukulele by comedian Don Smith, who forgave me for singing along off-key and weeping, staring into my new wife’s eyes.”
“And the reception?” I asked.
“It was held,” John told me, “inside the same fairy-lights and netting area, with the false chapel raised up into the ceiling. Seats were arranged medieval-style for the convenient access of dancing girls and we had a sword fight instead of a bridal waltz.
“Time for bridal waltz – Everybody stands up, Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On breaks out, everybody giggles… Jo starts saying, What is this? I say You love Celine Dion! YOU LOVE CELINE DION! and we’re pulled apart by our groomsmen and bridesmaids respectively.
“Werzel then brings us our ceremonial swords – What’s that? – The fight music from Star Trek comes on and we hack away at each other as only two completely hammered and ill-practised people can.
“After I refused to stay down for the part where she (all Errol Flynn-like) pins my sword to the ground and punches me in the head, she snogged me.
“It’s a good way to end, no? The video is on YouTube.
“Then it was time for music. So what comes on the speakers immediately? Too Drunk To Fuck by The Dead Kennedys. Too late to do anything about that, we jitter around the floor. As it turns out, we were.”
“Why marriage?” I asked.
“We understand each other,” John told me. “She’s tolerant and feisty and brainy and pretty and we’ve come a long way from driving around in her car, hunting for pastries at three in the morning. We’ve been together eight years – you learn a lot about a person in that time – and they can still surprise you. Also, when she gets too soppy, I cheer her up by joking about death – and when I get too soppy she cheers me up by telling me I’m being an idiot.”
“What are you doing at the moment?”
“I’ve been tinkering with lights and making all manner of unspeakable horrors happen for The Dark Room at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe. Hiding secret things in secret places. Practising my punishment voice. Wondering if it’s possible to build an enormous hand with which to stroke audiences. Raiding IKEA.”
“Are you developing The Dark Room in any other media?”
“I’m still working on making it a proper video game and I want it to be a book.”
“Or a major feature film with Spielberg directing?” I asked.
“Ah,” said John, “I stopped returning Spielberg’s calls after he asked if the room could be not really dark at all, and played by Tom Cruise“.
And beyond that?
“I’ve been working on a YouTube series The White Room for Hat Trick Productions. Unlike The Dark Room, you’re not trying to escape anything, but you might be trying to find something – it’s a parody of open world games, so there’s the ostensible freedom to do anything, but combined with I’ve lost my beard! Go and find it for me! and then the quest is really quick and easy, like every quest in every one of those games, you know what I mean?”
“Is Jo coming with you to the Edinburgh Fringe this year?” I asked.
“Oh, God yeah and we’re moving to the UK. Australia’s great, but I’m done now. I want to come to where I first saw well-dressed surrealists in suits causing real trouble. So we’re moving to Brighton! It’s coastal! It’s cold! Australian Goth icon Nick Cave lives there! Then I travel! TRAVEL! I do a preview show of The Dark Room at Leicester Square Theatre on July 24th. Then the Edinburgh Fringe.”
“Do I take it?” I asked, “that now you are married you are not going to settle down with pipe, slippers and a koala?”
“Koalas carry syphilis,” said John, “and I have never settled down.”