Cracker by Damian Christie


Gossip, Music and Laughs

It wasn’t a great surprise to read in the paper yesterday that Bridget Saunders’ About Town will be no more. After pretty much inventing the gossip pages for this generation (Felicity Ferret was years ago now, and never had the pages of photos that the promo girls clamour over so), Saunders column has lacked any zest for quite a while, the pages reduced to barely disguised press releases and giveaways, and what seems like a constant series of updates direct from Charlotte Dawson.

I’m sure Bridget’s trod on many toes over the years, often overstepping her mark and straying into areas she was if not unfit, then certainly not employed, to comment on – business, media, politics etc. But it wasn’t until R Glaucoma came along that I realised Bridget at least gave things a vague hint of class. Gossip after all caters to our basest natures – it feeds and breeds on negative energy, sneering at our peers, laughing at others’ misfortunes. So if she’s been forced to close shop because her competition enjoys rolling in the mud more, she should take it as some kinda of moral victory. At least I think people will continue to give Bridget the time of day.

I don’t think the same can be said for Glaucoma, who now seems to believe she actually has some kind of power; at least a couple of people I know say she’s literally told them “you need me.” Eech. The day that anyone who actually has a valid role in society (as opposed to wannabe promo girls and Friends of Seeby) needs an illiterate, nasty, waste-of-an-invite who seems happy to fabricate facts simply to fill space, is the day I provide the venue and the bubbly. If the Devil’s greatest trick is convincing people that he doesn’t exist, Rachel’s is convincing anyone that she matters. She doesn’t.

May’s not the best month to be trying to take it easy on the drink –as I’m once again trying– if you’re in my business. This month is not only New Zealand Music Month, but also the New Zealand International Comedy Festival, and the Readers and Writers Festival. Okay the latter is unlikely to be a piss-fest, but where there’s a will…

Aside from the odd live cross on the telly, NZ Music Month probably doesn’t have much of an influence on the life or drinking habits of the average Joe, but thanks to a career which is often low on income but always good on perks, I get to go to various functions. As Russell mentioned last week, the launch showcase event was at the start of May; ten bands or so performing to a bunch of industry types and fellow musos.

The new kids on the NZ Music block are Midnight Youth. I spoke to them last Saturday on the radio show, and they very kindly performed an acoustic version of their latest single. On the album it’s one of the more commercial tracks, but listening to it live in the album it literally brought shivers to my spine. The singer Jeremy is quite a talent, and all the band seem like really decent guys – I hope they go far and all signs are they will – the album has debuted at #2. Bloody Ronan Keating.

The lads have kindly allowed me to make the acoustic version of the song available here for y’all to listen to. It’s pretty rough and ready (it was recorded in an office off Khyber Pass Road and we just we shifted a microphone around to record the guitar…) but I hope you enjoy it – it was a pleasure hearing it live. I believe Midnight Youth are playing a few Wellington dates (Wed-Fri at the San Fran Bathhouse?) this week if you’re keen.

It might be New Zealand Music Month, but for me the past week and a half has been all about the New Zealand International Comedy Festival. I’ve been to six events since the Thursday before last – the 5 star comedy preview, Ben Hurley, Steve Coogan, Glenn Wool (Canada), Cori Gonzalez and then a dozen comedians performing for charity last night. My humour muscles are fighting fit, and I’m addicted, planning to squeeze in a bit more.

Ironically, it was the comedian I was most looking forward to seeing that I least enjoyed. I don’t want to sound ungrateful but with the gigs in the past I’m sure even the promoter won’t mind me saying that the Steve Coogan show was a bit shite.

After the show, everyone I spoke to; comedians, reviewers, festival staff and punters alike agreed much of his humour was pretty broad, pretty basic, and felt like it was from a different era (and by his own admission, much was reasonably old material), where a man with fake tits making cock jokes was funny. I don’t think Dame Edna would get many laughs at the today’s Festival either. It was nice to tick off the “I’ve seen Alan Partridge” box though, and his encore (finally playing himself) was very funny – justifying his frequent tabloid appearances and bad press through the Monty Python-esque ditty: “Everyone’s a bit of a C**t, sometimes.”

The locals I’ve seen this year have been great – I haven’t seen Michele A’Court on stage for a while, and she was in fine form last night; Cori’s stand-up show (Promo Girls Aren’t Models) is definitely one for those who prefer their comedy dry and deconstructed; and having caught small servings, I’m looking forward to seeing the full shows of locals Jesse Mulligan and Steve Wrigley (the latter in Wellington) this week, as well as Englishmen Mark Watson and Carey Marx if I have time. My standout favourite international so far is Glenn Wool – a bogan Canadian with great original riffs on drinking, drug use and divorce (here's some random YouTube footage). He’s done in Auckland but playing in Wellington all week for those of you down there, just $25, and well worth it.

Okay. For those of you looking for politics, Mr Slack and I interviewed Labour's David Shearer on the radio last weekend, (podcast here), in the first of a series of interviews with the Mt Albert candidates. National's Melissa Lee should be on this coming Saturday.

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