On the day Malcolm Hardee Award winning British comic Bob Slayer was thrown out of his Austral venue at the Adelaide Fringe this week, I received this e-mail from his fellow British comic Eric, whose show is running at the Tuxedo Cat venue in Adelaide.
As I walked through the Tuxedo Cat on the way to do my show this evening, I was surprised to see Bob Slayer stood by the bar. We exchanged pleasantries and Bob told me that he was going to come and see my show tonight. I must admit to being a little confused by this, as Bob had previously told me that he was unable to see my show in Adelaide because our shows’ times clashed – and, of course, he was unable to see my show in Perth as he had been banned from the venue…
Seeing the quizzical look on my face, Bob solved the mystery instantly by informing me that he had cancelled his ‘entire run’ simply so that he could see my show. Seeing my expression had now changed from ‘quizzical’ to ‘incredulous’ (I was eighteen years in the Royal Navy, an organisation that runs on bullshit, so I can smell BS at forty paces) he relented and told me that he had once again been banned from the Festival and all his shows had been cancelled.
“Oh well,” I thought, “that’s Bob I suppose.”
I, of course, knew that he had also been banned in Perth, but, as he had been reluctant to talk about that (or indeed anything else in Perth), I didn’t enquire further, but simply sorted him out with a ticket and went off to set up for my show.
After the show, Bob came backstage and we chatted while he watched me get changed. I am getting used to having an audience for my backstage strip now – I am thinking of selling tickets to it rather than to my show… I understand that Bob also treated Juliet Meyers to the spectacle that is The Bob Slayer Arse when she arrived to set up for her show. Anyway that is by the by…
Bob told me that the reason he had been banned from the Adelaide Fringe was because he had blogged the story of one of his shows attended by a number of people with Fringe Festival Passes, whom he eventually ejected because of their behaviour.
This made me think: “Oh! I had better be careful about what I write about last night’s show.”
A couple of guys sat right in the front row wearing ‘Artists Passes’ spent the entire show whispering to each other and generally being a distraction and, if it wasn’t for all the trials and tribulations that we had had with the show not finishing on time, I would have quite happily taken them to task on this. But, terrified of over-running, I let it go and just hoped they weren’t proving as much of a distraction to the audience as they were to me.
At the risk of also getting myself banned, I have to say that, if someone is going to take advantage of a pass that allows them free access to a show, then it is simply common courtesy not to disrupt proceedings.
Adelaide Fringe has a policy of allowing performers free admission to performances that are not sold out. So does Perth. And certain venues at the Edinburgh Fringe have a similar policy.
But audience members who have made no financial investment in seeing a show are far less likely to invest their attention in that show. We value what we have had to work for and earned far more than anything we are given for free. I am all in favour of artists, volunteers and other contributors to any Fringe being able to sit their bum on any empty seat at the Festival that they have helped to create but – hey guys – just don’t take the piss, eh?
I received that e-mail on the day Bob Slayer lost his show at the Austral venue. But the story has a happy ending. Well, happy for one night.
Eric asked Cass, who runs the Tuxedo Cat venue, if she would be interested in having Bob perform there. She said he was exactly the type of edgy performer that the Tuxedo Cat would welcome with open arms.
Eric then mentioned this to Bob and so, tonight, Bob is performing one last show in a late slot at the Tuxedo Car in Adelaide.
He immediately issued a press release saying:
Just when I thought the whole comedy world was going to cast me out for being a liability… I have been thrown a lifeline by Cass @ The Tuxedo Cat.
– Hang on wasn’t he banned from the Adelaide Fringe? The Fringe itself is an open access festival… with various promoters… I was banned by one of these promoters: Ha Ha Comedy who promote at the Austral as part of the Fringe… But Cass at the Tuxedo Cat has offered refuge and redemption like the church of yesteryear…
– Is this just a press stunt?
– Oh man when you come along and find out what actually happened in Perth to get me banned (which had a knock-on effect here) and how much money it cost me (current estimate $7,500 and still counting) you will know that it is not!
– Why did you get banned in Perth? Why did you get banned in Austral?
– Look, if you want to find this out then you are going to have to come along for this one off special gig which will reveal all – It will make you laugh so hard that you will wish you were wearing a nappy.
This show will incorporate Bob Slayer’s full Australian adventure including: banned in Perth, touring the outback with a goat, hanging out with the proper locals in Coober Pedy, making wine in McLaren Vale, homeless in Adelaide, banned in Adelaide etc – and a conclusion that will make you weep.
Prepare for the most exciting and hilarious one-off show of the Fringe… qwarr
(Well maybe after Sanderson Jones’ gig – Seriously that will be special – Buy your ticket off him)
FREE GIG – there will be a hat for Bob Slayer’s repatriation Fund!
Also there is a great $10 bucks curry and vegi option plus Little Creatures Beer (and other drinks!)
1 Hour show (with after party til late!)
(My flight is at 6am and I will be drinking through)
One Night Only!
Bob may be unpredictable, but he knows how to write a press release – and how to prepare the material for one. He now calls the Tuxedo Cat venue “The home of alternative comedy and cabaret at Adelaide Fringe and the defender of idiots”.
So the story has a happy ending. Sort of. Probably. At the time of writing, the show has not taken place. So who knows what may happen? As with all things in life, it is probably a good idea to hope for the best but prepare to hear the worst…