Thanks to everyone who attended the Funemployed Tour! I had a blast. It ended in Brisbane at Southside Tea Room. Here’s Pae Hoddy (Th’ Grates) and myself mooching by the pinnies. I recommend the shakes (as in the drink). I’ll be at the Comedy Stage at Plunder In The Grass. (Thursday 7:45pm / Friday 6:45pm). Watch me phone in Northcote.
Credit: Jeremy Staples, ZICS.
I recently spent four nights giving artistic and life advice at Readings, Carlton. It actually worked, and I ended up ‘counselling’ about 25 people. Armed with walnuts and Elderberry tea, I sat in my disarming booth and shared intimate ideas with kindly strangers.
- A Dad wants to film his kids at school doing a dance routine. He reckons he could crowd source / fund a $2000 budget. He would probably have to work with a director who would also edit it. His main question for me was: “What do you think of all that?” When he invited his five year old daughter to sit in my chair she instincitively went to fold it up and put it away. Later, I drew a picture of her which she scrunched up in my face.
- A cute Readings staff member wants to pursue acting. She’s aware of how crowded and competitive it is. She wants to study in London. Her parents don’t really get it, but are supportive enough. “What if it doesn’t work out?” she asks me. She fears following the dream and it not working out and having wasted her time. She does believe she is talented and special enough to make it.
- A girl is not sure what to do with her life. “I’m 24, that feels so old,” she informs me. We narrow down that she wants to help people, ie social work. She’s cautious about spending two years doing a degree incase it doesn’t work out and she’s wasted her time. I tell her it won’t be time wasted. It is life experience that will enrich her soul and it is always better than sitting on the fence.
- A young Tassie dude wants to play piano and explore his musical comedy. He used to play music as a kid and received a lot of praise which he found embarrassing. He has since got out of the habit of writing and performing and while he misses it he’s also anxious about it. If he tries and fails it will be painful, while if he does well he’ll just get too much praise again and be embarrassed. (You can’t underestimate the self-worth issues of a Tasmanian). I tell him to think of an artist he admires. Imagine if they never existed because they were too sheepish. It’s all part of the cycle of art life. He deserves to contribute to the conversation. There’s always 943 valid excuses for not doing your art.
- A passive aggressive artist woman refuses to sit down. “The book would be pretty grim wouldn’t it?” We back and forth until she concludes “You’re a pretty terrible salesman but I’m gonna buy a book.” I say “great” in my usual way (people have trouble reading my deadpan, including me) and she says “you don’t even care, do you?” I reply “You’ve made four assumptions about me in the last twenty seconds'” She says “I’m sorry, do you want to make assumptions about me?” I say “no.” She buys a book. This is the closest anyone has come to hassling me.
- Older writer man. He was writer in residence at a Mt Eliza cafe for three years. He’s a writer of young adult fiction. He has no idea where the story is going to go. It’s a daily meditation. A subconscious journey. He got head hunted as a lawyer or psychologist? “Do you read palms” he opens with. “Only when in Hawaii,” I reply. He doesn’t ask me for any advice but tells me about himself for a solid twenty minutes.
- Artist girl commissioned to paint a mural at her favourite pub. It’s of her ex boyfriend, naked in bed saying nasty things. She’s unsure whether it’s legit and worried that “people” will think she’s mean spirited. Also, the boyfriend may recognise himself. I tell her to go for it. Art’s what you can get away with (said Andy Warhol). They invited me to their house party with an “Under the sea” theme, but I’ll be in Tassie.
- Twenty three year old male comedian, managing some high profile names and working two days a week. Unsure whether to pursue his own career or not. We had a long chat about time management. He’s probably doing too much. He needs to try and drop the two days a week job and make money from managing. He needs to concentrate on his writing.
- A woman wants to know where she should live in Melbourne. She’s moving from Geelong with a dog. I suggest Thornbury / Preston. It’s not too pretentious, but affordable. She wants to live with one other. I give her some tips on finding the right housemate. Be upfront about your needs – ie – not wanting to be too social and going out for drinks all the time. Also, do as much screening as you can on the phone – you can pick up a vibe and save yourself some time.
On Monday I started running an Advice Booth at Readings. It’s been a lovely ‘ground zero’ experience – mixing with people directly in a post-internet age. The focus is on arts / creative advice – but as I say in my occasional spruik “Free art and creative advice, psychological, relationship, basic health and I know some bus times.” In my two hour window I’m barely alone for longer than five minutes. Meek, kind-eyed strangers sit and we share a cup of tea and some walnuts. I’ve spoken to about fifteen people so far. Here are some of the subjects covered:
- A guy wants to start a metal band. He wants to ask his mate who is a drummer, but is nervous about asking incase he says ‘no.’
- A girl plays piano. She would like to play with other musicians, but is shy about asking.
- A woman is getting painting lessons. She doesn’t like her teacher much. He insists on finishing the students paintings for them.
- A daughter of a famous Australian painter – she used to paint regularly / professionally, but hasn’t done it for years. She wants to get back into using pastels. I suggested she needs to break the habit of not painting and form the habit of doing a bit each day – a common theme!
- A musician was nervous that his ‘mad’ music/comedy act might embarrass his children. He’s tailoring the act to feature less on himself personally and more on society in general. He has not done shows for quite some time, but would like to. I asked him to make sure this concern for his children wasn’t the artistic super-villain of ‘fear’ masquerading under the guise of concern for his children. Perhaps it was fear of failure or rejection. Family / children are some of the more powerful procrastination fuel for artists.
- One intense, softly spoken man said “everyone keeps being aggressive towards me.” He was referring to people on the street and the way they looked at him. I said that one was outside my jurisdiction.
- A psychologist was about to go six days a week. He was bemused to sit in the booth, as he’s usually the one listening, not asking for advice. He’s gone into a business partnership with a friend, going against the one piece of advice his grandfather gave him which was “never go into partnership with a friend.” He’s trying to move from working for a company to working for himself – so must work increased hours to build a roster of new patients. I spoke about burnout and the danger of harvesting personal time for increased productivity. He said that already his sleep was being affected, and I told him about the months of recovery it can take when you do crash. (We agreed that it’s not something you worry about until it happens). He just messaged me to say he realised six days was too much and will be paring back to four.
- A young man stood for a long time asking me questions about The Bedroom Philosopher. After a while he sat, and while glancing around at the wall of spines around us, asked me how I dealt with stress. I mentioned exercise, yoga, strict work hours and counselling. He said he’d just started meditating. He told me about a simple technique of “in for four, hold for four, out for four, hold for four.” (I tried this the next morning…and passed out. It is excellent for slowing down the internal clock – honey on the cogs.) I think I most enjoy giving advice to men in their early twenties. I know how hard it is for them to show vulnerability.
- A writer / playright was my first customer. Like many, she poured out of Nova, where the power had gone out. I said my plan of sabotaging the fuse box had worked a treat. She was having issues with time management. She was working on her own production and acting as writer, director and producer. We acknowledged how difficult it is to hold down all those roles. She said it was wearing her out and sometimes she wondered if it was all worth it. I suggested being more disciplined / regimented with time management. Her things to do list should be divided into tasks to be completed that day, that week and that month. She should make mini-contacts with herself, of jobs that need to be immediately done. (As opposed to looking at a list of 15 things that all need to be done “soon.”) I also suggested working for 90 minutes in the morning, going hard on the admin – and then not thinking about it for the rest of the day. This is better than dabbling away at it all day and ending up overwhelmed / fatigued. She took notes – and went away a little more empowered.
- A cute asian girl told me she really enjoys doing pottery. She works in a job helping others, so this is one thing she does for herself. Her teacher says the clay is a living thing. It moves how it wants.
ADVICE BOOTH TALES CONTINUED HERE
New single from ‘Funemployed EP.’
Directed by Alesh Macak & Justin Heazlewood.
Starring ‘Fin’ by Sabrina D’Angelo.