Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Promisetown - now with more crumbs.

Please read Promisetown in conjunction with  City vs Sprawl - A Tale of Two Melbourne's 

There is a small tract of land called the Main Street Reserve, located at the back of Main Street in Thomastown, a Northern suburb of Melbourne. The reserve is unexceptional in both name and outlook. It’s windswept and desolate: a place you wouldn’t want to wander through after dark. There’s a sports oval and a clubroom made in the days when mission brown was thought to be a good thing. There’s a swing and a slide, and, for reasons the water company, the local politician and the residents can’t explain, a section of a creek to the east that is just a concrete drain hole.

This unremarkable reserve was recently allocated a Sports and Recreation Victoria grant to pay for an upgrade, with a focus on the location of the swing and the slide. The grant ignited a flare of hope in down town Thomastown.

The City of Melbourne did a magnificent service to the community when they created that strange paved and uneven space in the city centre: Federation Square. With its big screen and stage, cafes, deck chairs in the summer time, information booth for visitors, open-air tai chi, a million and one events, buskers, sideshows, markets and book fairs. Since its inception in 2002 over 8 million people have converged upon it. Federation Square has allowed us to gather in the middle of the city, so we all can take part, watch, talk to passers-by, connect and belong to the city of Melbourne. 

Evidence abounds about the benefits of spending time with others
VicHealth, the world’s first health promotion foundation established in 1987, states: 

Feeling like you belong and being part of a group are intrinsic to better mental health and well being. We know that social isolation can have a negative effect on your health.

Yet our screens consume our attention, our cars isolate us from contact and our shopping malls transform us into somnambulant consumers. The demise of the milk bar, the introduction of self-serve check outs at supermarkets and the advent of online banking means that some people don’t have a single human interaction for days on end. A chilling thought.

So why can’t there be outdoor gathering spaces in every suburb? They don’t have to be as grand as Federation Square. Just a park offering something a little bit special that might create some pride of place, or a potential counterpoise to extreme levels of disadvantage: high levels of unemployment, gambling losses and high rates of violence. 

Let’s take Thomastown as an example of the type of suburb that might benefit from such a space. Thomastown is north of Melbourne’s CBD, past Bell Street and beyond Mahoney’s Road. It is so disadvantaged that it even got an honorable mention in the 2015 Dropping off the Edge report, by Jesuit Social Services. This report outlines persistent community disadvantage throughout Australia. 

Thomastown is an enigma of sorts. Our supermarket trolleys are filled with cheeses, yogurts, dips and hams made in its industrial zone, but that wealth of local manufacturing doesn’t trickle to down to its streets, nor is there a festival celebrating the foods manufactured in Thomastown. 

Thomastown is a badly designed suburb. Main Street contains the library, an aquatic centre, two schools and the only Early Learning Aboriginal Child and Family Centre in Victoria, Bubup Wilam. The shops are a fair distance away from the Main Street ‘hub’ and there are few places to go besides Epping Plaza, which is two suburbs further north, and hardly a top ten tourist destination.

The library and Neighborhood House, where I work in Thomastown, strive to create opportunities to gather. After all, with 43% literacy rates the library is never going to be the place where borrowers lean in and group hug over Miles Franklin short lists. We have created a monthly market with an emphasis in the promotion on the words ‘free’ and ‘family’. Many stall holders I have spoken to don’t care about how much they sell. They simply want to get out of their houses and talk to others.

Besides these markets, there are numerous craft workshops, playgroups and a coffee cart, creating opportunities for people to just chat. This is a suburb with no art galleries, theatres, live performance spaces or movie houses – it doesn’t even have a big chain fast food outlet.

Give or take a few factors, Thomastown is not unlike so many suburbs in Australia. The layout diminishes opportunities to connect, there is a lack of thought about the location of shops and the lack of the aesthetic is omnipresent. 

Then came the Sports and Recreation grant, the consultants were bused in, the sausages began to sizzle and the bunting was raised. it began to feel not unlike the great Shape Your Future consultation of 2012, where residents and stakeholders were consulted within an inch of their lives. In it the Thomastown community said repeatedly that they just wanted places to meet and gather, to share their cultures and to feel a sense of pride and ownership. 

I suspect that few, if any, of those hundreds of people consulted were urban or town planners, but what was proposed was this: a lovely place to gather and meet and share and connect because those that were consulted didn’t want to spend time at home, or in shopping malls. They wanted places outdoors to connect.

Then there was a change of government and the Shape Your Future recommendations were never implemented. Instead the reports, with all of the hundreds of responses, just got filled away in a cupboard, and the consultations went nowhere. 

As the current round of consultations for the Main Street Reserve progressed, the local government engaged outdoor play experts to draw some pictures of what the space could like and architects to nod and say yes that could be done. Representatives from local schools, the aquatic centre, sports groups, the library, Neighborhood House and Bubup Wilam as well as some residents, were all asked to give their opinions once again.

I attended one of the consultations. The room was filled with nametag-wearing council officers all nodding and appeasing the general mood of the room. Throughout the consultation, we, the stakeholders leaned in wearily and chewed bovine-like on the lollies placed in a huge bowl at the center of the table.

As the consultation wore on, Lisa Thorpe, a woman with a steely nerve, and CEO of Bubup Wilam asked: ‘Why don’t we make Main Sreet Reserve a gathering space? A place where people will want to go? A place where Aboriginal people are acknowledged, where the foliage is indigenous to the area. A place that we can boast about, not just a hidden away wind-swept drug dealer’s haven, with a new brightly colored slide to lean on whilst making a deal.’

We all shifted slightly. There were nods of agreement. The energy in the room lifted. Our jaws moved a little quicker over the sugar-laden lollies. People talked over one another to get their point across. We were all in agreement with Lisa: ‘Wouldn’t it be nice? A place to gather. A place to meet. A place that we would all be happy and content to visit.’ Community capacity building high fives all round.

In rural Victoria, many small towns have reinvented themselves and attracted thousands of visitors because of a change in civic pride.

The individual efforts by all of us collectively leads to an improved sense of community, wellbeing and the outward improvement in the appearance of the municipality. Civic pride is based upon an inclusive sense of being…that offers a single shared identity to a diverse population. Events have a key role to play in as they bring people together so that they learn with and from each other. Through this learning and sharing in active citizenship a core of shared civic values can be developed. (2)

Again we, the consulted ones, weren’t urban planners, academics or place makers, but we all knew instinctively that gathering spaces matter and that it’s important to make those spaces interesting, inviting – somewhere beautiful, that momentarily makes us stop in our tracks and want to spend time in.

The opportunity for change was palpable around the consultation table. Main Street Reserve was a place where something good could happen in Thomastown. It was a chance to show the community that what they said mattered and was acted upon. A chance to create somewhere special with opportunities for spontaneous connections in a setting of beauty and function. The money was in the bag, all that needed to happen was for the recommendations to be put into action. 

There is a fabulous book called Public Spaces: How they humanize Cities, that cites so many examples of why good open public spaces matter and outlines the effects of the increase of shopping malls and apartment blocks on parklands: 
The more diluted and scattered the exchange opportunities, the more the city begins to lose the very thing which makes it a city: a concentration of exchange opportunities. Compared with experiencing buildings and other inanimate objects, experiencing people, who speak and move about, offers a wealth of sensual variation… Furthermore, it concerns the most important subject in life: people. (1) 
In the suburb where I live, Preston, a supermarket was knocked down. It was located next to a market, a train station and another supermarket, near a busy intersection where the throb of traffic rarely ceased.

There was an instant as the earth was being moved to make way for the Centrelink building destined to stand in supermarket’s place, where I superimposed my own imagination. 

I talked with friends and neighbours, spoke to local council officers and councilors. ‘Imagine if this space was left open,’ I said. ‘Imagine if there was a piazza built here, a square, a place we could gather on summer evenings, where nanas could sit and chat, where bands could play, and children could run. A place where we could bring a picnic, talk to people who live in the neighbourhood and passers-by, do our shopping, then stop a while in the shade of a tree.’ 

‘Imagine,’ I kept saying as the earthmovers came in and the concrete got poured. ‘Imagine,’ I said, as the sun set on the idea.

There was a power outage on our street a few weeks ago. As I looked up and down the street to see if it was just our house, a man across the road was there too. We smiled as we decided it looked like the whole street was out. Then we chatted a while. 

‘How long have you lived here for?’ he asked.
‘17 years,’ I said.
It was a smack-the-forehead-in-disbelief moment, we’ve both lived there for more than a decade and not said a word to each other.

Since then we always stop say and say hello. Know Your Neighbour Day has become an instrument of government, encouraging street parties with guides and vouchers to pay for BBQ food. It seems insane that we need a government department to assist us to connect with each other.

My children go out trick-or-treating for Halloween every year. They love getting dressed up and donning face paints that transform their faces into ghoulish masks. They especially love the empty pillow cases at the beginning of the night and the laden-down weight of them by the end. 

I make them go out on that last night in October with me, the dog and our nearest neighbors. We bang on doors and shout ‘Trick or treat!.’ It allows us to smile and say hello to our neighbors and see friends on the street. The lollies are secondary.

When we knock on the doors of the old people two doors down, they shrug in a ‘what is this all about?’ kind of a way, but nevertheless shuffle back into their dimly lit hallways, to their kitchens, and return to their front doors offering up sweeties and treats. We always stop a while and chat with them. After all, there is a lot to say – we only see them on Halloween. We chat to connect. Because otherwise we are all heads down, honking our horns in the traffic and sliding into the slipstream.

I’ve stuck at community development work over the last twenty years because I have seen what those moments of connection can do. For the mother who is isolated, then connects with others through a playgroup, a nod, a smile, a friendship made, can be life-changing. For the refugee who volunteers, learns skills, makes friends, there is an opportunity to feel useful, to contribute, to feel part of something. 

I’m a big advocate for Neighbourhood Houses as they offer people places to go and the community development model employed empowers individuals to take control of their lives through lifelong learning opportunities, advocacy and it also encourages community ownership and participation.  

I like the work because it effects a change at a local level. Neighbourhood Houses are responsive to local needs. They are not an instrument of government. They are community-run and owned. There are 400 plus across Victoria, one in every electorate. 

The Multiple Benefits Report produced by the peak body of Neighbourhood Houses compiled data collected over a twelve-month period. The report outlined stats and data on why people attend Neighbourhood Houses and what they do when they attend. On the whole, people attend for social reasons, to find work, for education, to learn a skill, to volunteer, but most of all people attend quite simply because they want to connect with others.

Dean has been a volunteer with the library and Neighborhood House for over a year. He has a multitude of skills, can turn his hand to anything, from making scary scavenger hunts for library Halloween parties, to building mini-golf courses from cardboard boxes and fake turf. He has become an integral and valuable part of the team. I asked him what he thinks about the proposed revamp of Main Street Reserve and why places to meet are important.

‘When I was at my worst with my mental health issues I often tried to find places to be. The best I could find was the library, but that was more a study area at that time. I needed a place just to talk to other people. There was nowhere. 

‘That then led me to re-introducing myself to neighbours. I often thought, “What if there could be a place to be with those neighbours?” then maybe the world wouldn't feel so dangerous or unsafe anymore. 

‘Since getting back out into the community I now make it a habit of going to Epping plaza. It’s full, jam-packed, no matter what day or time I go. Surely we don't do that much shopping and surely we don't spend that much time out shopping. The car parks are full. All the time. The buses are flying by constantly. It sometimes feels as if they're all zombies walking past each other without even a glance. Possibly people looking for a place to be? 

‘I’ve lived in Thomo all my life and even as a kid we never went to Main Street Reserve, we might ride past on our bikes but we’d never stay there.’

Lisa Thorpe and I meet some days after the Main Street Reserve consultation to talk about funding. She has been fronting up to government departments for years stating why the current early years funding model doesn’t fit Bubup Wilam. 

‘There is no pigeon hole that they can easily put us into,’ Lisa said.
‘A funding model for working parents or children with a disability might work, but we need a different model. The children who come to the centre are some of the most vulnerable, and range across the spectrum, but trauma is not listed as a funded disability.  Neither is a strength-based model of care for children’.

We move on to imagining once more what the Main Street Reserve makeover could offer. Lisa has lived in the area for over 30 years and says in that time not much has changed.

We talk extensively about the importance of gathering spaces and why they matter and we imagine what the Main Street Reserve could be.

‘Imagine,’ we say ‘happening upon something of beauty downtown Thomastown. A place of beauty to lift the spirits and give people a sense of hope and joy.’

We don’t imagine that employment rates will change overnight. Or that domestic violence rates or gambling losses will plummet like a Wall Street crash, but we do know that a gathering space that connects and draws people out of their houses can effect a change on a micro-level and decrease that sense of isolation that so many of us feel.

Over the last 20 years I’ve worked in a whole range of settings and on a whole range of projects with people from housing commission estates, migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, people with mental health issues, ex-prisoners, victims and survivors of domestic violence. All of my knowledge and expertise on what makes communities tick has been stripped back to something quite simple – opportunities for people to gather is critical if we want to create healthier suburbs.

Months have gone by now. There is no word from the Main Street Reserve consultation.

Maybe Lisa is right. Maybe all that we will get from the consultation is a lolly. 

Under this vast Australian sky it would appear that community consultations will be here for a long time to come and the Dropping Off The Edge Report will keep adding more suburbs to the inventory of disadvantaged places. Many more voices will add to the catalogue of consultations asking for places to gather, but when, I wonder, will anyone listen? 


(1) Efroymson D, Kieu TT, Pham TH, Ha T, 2009, 
Public Spaces How they humanize cities, retrieved from

(2) Rentschler R, Bridson K, Evans J, 2015,
Civic Pride and Community Identity, The Impact of Arts in Regional Victoria, retrieved from

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Excuse me there are crumbs in my prize

I've been doing comedy for over ten years, in that time nothing, de zilch, de zero, de nada, not even a wooden spoon.
Then I win a prize with Writers Victoria for a short story called Price Check. 
So shut up and write already a friend said, the best advice I've had for a while.

Here's what the judge said about the story (and he's a judge so he must be right)
An exploration into early motherhood and the secrets we all keep. It is a story about isolation and an exploration of how we can do something for ourselves. “Put simply,” said Steed, “this is the freshest, most original story among the competition entries. Both about parenting and yet not, it showcases a voice I'd love to hear more from in years to come.”

Price Check

She pulls on her jeans, three red leather bangles and a shirt that can be unbuttoned modestly. 

There’s a slightly sour smell in the air. The washing spills out of the laundry basket. She pulls back the covers on the bed. As she draws back the blind, dust motes rise like ghosts in the strong morning light. 

Three-and-a-half hours, at least. She knows that she shouldn’t count, but adding up the hours of sleep, helps her feel like she has some control over the night that has just passed. 

From the other end of the house the spoon is reaching its crescendo as he stirs his coffee. Her jaw is clenched in irritation. She gathers the plastic bag, full of wipes, poo-ey nappies and an empty tin of ointment, from the change table. Glancing into the mirror on her way out, she sees her hair is in fuzzy disarray. She pushes it down with her free hand.

“See you later – have a good one.”
A last slurp of coffee, a crunch of toast, a trail of crumbs on the bench, one perfunctory kiss, then he is gone.

She watches his broad back recede down the quiet street, the sun is just climbing. Her engorged breasts begin to leak through her shirt as she stands in the front yard.
The garden has the classic renters look: slightly desolate, in need of a mow, and all the charm of a cup of tea gone cold.
Back inside, she positions the cushions, brings the infant to her, her right hand supporting his head, the left cradling his body. She feels a tingling light headedness, followed by a sense of relief as the milk drains out of her. The baby belches, leaving a thin sour stream on her sleeve.

Stay calm and relax.
Some people say chocolate is not food, it’s just chocolate.
No husband has ever been shot whilst doing the dishes.

She arranges the fridge magnets one more time.
It seems like she is always there in the house, always just being there with the baby. 

The radiant heat from the traffic and the concrete throbs. It’s 10am and already it’s already over 30 degrees. If she closes her eyes, she can pretend that the roaring noise is the ocean, not the traffic. The northern suburbs of Melbourne are heavy and tired from the incessant heat.

It took her till now, till she had the baby, to understand the seasons and to understand how the sun travelled across the sky in Australia.

Arriving from the UK ten years before, understanding those things hadn’t mattered. That was a time in her life when she hardly understood herself, never mind her surroundings.

When she was pregnant though, someone had said Oh how lovely you’re having a spring baby. It clicked then, that spring was late in the year, that the heat came at Christmas time, that an English winter was an Australian summer. She had not understood it till she had birthed, nor had she ever looked or cared about the direction the sun travelled in during the day. 

The position of the pram could be changed to suit the direction of the sun. The sun rose in the east, traveled north and set in the west. The pram faced west as she walked to the supermarket, the hot sun behind her. It mattered somehow that she knew this that she knew where the sun would be, so she could change the direction of the pram as she walked around the streets.

Milk, nappies, coffee, something for dinner, the list was created to put purpose into her day. A trip to the supermarket felt like an achievement, something started and completed in one day. Unlike the rest of it: the blur of feeding, the saté poohy nappies, the thin streams of vomit always across her back, the all pervasive smell of wipes and milk, the long stretch of the days.

She knows no one in the suburb where she lives. Most days she speaks only to the check out chicks at the supermarket. Often she stares at passers by - wishing that they would be her friends.

She pauses on her walk and looks up. Nothing assails her quite like the silvery green of gum trees, the endless varieties, the red explosion of colour, their gracefulness, their starkness. It always makes her stop and heightens her sense of loneliness and reminds her that she is here, in the Southern hemisphere – in Australia.

The baby sleeps through the walk down to the supermarket. She usually has an hour or so before her breasts spring a leak, before she has to unharness her self, find somewhere to sit and feed the infant. Then she can release the engorged heaviness into the infant’s wide, hungry mouth.

She passes the black and brown Alsatian, barking at number 365. A renovation that seemed to be taking forever at 451. At 517 the garden is made up of a manicured lawn and topiaries in the shape of strange animals, all with plastic black and white stuck on eyes, the kind you would usually find on a teddy bear. It would have taken hours to keep the strange beasts in shape, but she has never seen anyone tend the garden. She imagines that they do the topiary work under the cover of darkness, a torch guiding the hedge trimmer, the light deranged and the shadows short. Number 599 is dilapidated, its letterbox stuffed with unopened mail and yellowing newspapers. 

She crosses the road to the supermarket; the heat seems to intensify around all of the parked cars. The cool air is a blast as she enters.

Her shirt is sticking to her back. In the stark bright light, she feels stale. 

Her anonymity is amplified in the uniformity of the place, the groupings of cleaning fluids and toilet paper, the frozen items and the boxes of cereals, stacked, neat, an orderly flow of people in and out, the shelves always stacked, the shelf stackers never seen.

She contemplates the slithered tuna enrobed in a succulent mornay, surrounded by a trio of spring vegetables and wonders if it really is food fit for humans or as the tin suggests for animal consumption only.
She trawls up and down in the supermarket, holds the pacifier in her hand momentarily dreaming that this could be the answer to the endless sleepless nights, then hangs it back on its hook knowing that her choice to breast feed means that she is the eternal pacifier. The very thought of it makes her nipples tingle, and not in a pleasurable way.

Haribo Gold bears 330 each was 4.40 SAVE 1.10
25% OFF.
Haribo Gold bears Mini.
1 Pack 250g
Some lines for the bar code.
Some numbers beneath the bar code the number 22 in a circle.

Excuse me there are
Haribo Gold Bears in my comedy

She places the yellow and green sign for Haribo Gold bears into the basket underneath the pram, pays for the things that she has bought for dinner, the nappies, the coffee and leaves the supermarket. 

The heat hits her like a heavy sponge. She begins to walk up the hill back home and feels something beyond the usual drag of tiredness. She stops momentarily to understand what the feeling is, and places it: it is the feeling of excitement tinged with purpose. 

Between the feeds, the burping and the poohey nappies that night she sits by the glow of her computer. Her tiredness makes her sway and almost hallucinate, but she keeps going.
Haribo Gold bears 2.20 each was 4.40 save 2.10.
The slightest change.

The next day she goes down the hill, purposeful, the drone of domesticity a momentary back drop. She enters the supermarket.

Haribo Gold bears 220 each was 4.40 save 2.10
She places the label onto the shelf.
She does her shopping, slowly: bread, eggs, baby wipes, some washing up liquid, some fruit and a small box of tea.
She slows her pace down, dawdling, not caring that her time might run out, that her breasts may spring a leak, or spurt even.

Her basket fills; she has bought some light globes that she doesn’t need, some cleaning cloths though she already has some at home, hoping and waiting.
Eventually she realizes that it won’t happen today, that today she will have to go home without seeing her work in action, that the warmth spreading across her shirt and the baby’s stirring movements means that she must leave, now before the infant begins to bawl.

Deliciously fruity Nanna’s Apple Pie.
400 each was 520 save 1.20
The slightest change.

When she gets home, her shirt is damp, with map like patterns running across it. The souring milk smell makes her almost dry retch.
The infants hands are clenched, his face is red from crying.
She feeds the baby calming him with a slight rocking movement.
She changes out of her soggy shirt, places the infant into the basinet, the one that can be wheeled around the house and places it next to her computer.

In the first week there was an orange string bag of onions 1 kilo was 250 save 100, imported cherries from the US, an assortment of confectionary, pet food and an electrical juicing machine, all altered slightly. 
It took until Thursday, 4 days into the alterations for her to be in the store to hear it:
Price check
Price check on grocery.

She watches, whilst pretending to be fascinated in a show and tell magazine. A film star’s ex lover gets married to her best friend. Another film star reveals her fat busting techniques.
She peers over the magazine as the customer says:
The sign said $4:00, it says it’s on special. 

She watches the young assistant go up isle 7 and brings back the yellow and green sign.
The numbers slightly altered, the lines slightly changed. Her sign, oh so carefully mimicked, oh so carefully changed on her computer. Her almost forgotten training as a graphic designer, dulled by the exhausting birth, the endless feeding, the intense boredom of early motherhood, sparking strangely back into the life because of a packet of Haribo Gold bears. The jelly confection so sweet on her lips as she worked on the  yellow sign taken from the supermarket shelf.

The checkout chick shakes her head as the scanner waves over the top. She shakes her head again after a few futile attempts, waiting for the expected beep sound. The customer, shows signs of irritation, eyes moving slightly upwards, a short sigh, a shuffle of the shoulders, a pursing of the lips, a quick glance at their mobile phone.
The Haribo Gold bears are given to the customer at the price displayed on the yellow and green label.

It was small things at first, then large packets of toilet paper, then gourmet ice-cream crazily priced at $12:00 boasting pistachio, drizzles of salted caramel and shards of toffee. 
Was $12:00 Now $2:00. 
Her head is dull with sleeplessness, her ‘work’ interrupted by the shrill cry of the infant wanting another feed.

A month in and her living room is strewn with supermarket labels. Her walks up and down the hill to the supermarket becoming a daily thrill. She cannot know who will buy what when she is there, whilst she is there buying her nappies, her things for dinner, some milk. She can only hope.

Thirty two days in and as she enters the supermarket she feels dull and lugubrious, the incessant ache of her nearly full breasts, the buzz of tiredness making her temples throb.

The saxophone crescendo to Jerry Raferty’s Baker Street filters through to her as she approaches the nappy isle. She begins to hum along to the lyrics.

Through the staccato rhythm another sound comes to her. The sound of alchemy at work, the moment she has till now, only imagined.

There has been one call, and in quick succession another, she hurries down the isle, not even bothering to get the nappies that she has come in for. 

There is another call and another.
She stands in the bright light and smiles, her backdrop are signs boasting that everything is Special

All five check outs that are operating, all of them making the same call. Along with the call, she sees the flashing lights indicating that the operator is requesting assistance. They are like beacons. Then the noise, to her a beautiful melody. Five check out chicks yell at once:
Price check, price check, price check, price check, price check.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Excuse me there are loads more crumbs in my comedy now

I've stood up on stage a million times.
I have made people laugh.
And I have failed in a myriad of ways.

Then I started to teach stand up comedy with Roarhouse 
Here are some crumbs from the edges of the stage.

Stand up Comedy
The Perils_ The Pleasures _The Pitfalls.
 The only way to learn how to do stand up comedy is by doing it.
·       Write material using your life experiences as a spring board.
·       You probably need to be through the pain to make it funny.
·       Doing stand up comedy is a craft – learn it by writing it, honing it and doing it again and again.
·       Comedy usually comes in 3’s
·       Set up the joke, create a conflict, the punch line should resolve the conflict and take us somewhere we don’t expect to go
·       Comedy is made up of 3 tenants fear, humiliation and failure – master the tenants.
·       You can only be as funny as you -  so don’t try to be as funny as someone else.
·       Get better at telling a few jokes rather than trying to write a lot of jokes or a whole show.
·       Commit to the material, learn it, don’t read it off the back of your hand.
·       It’s ok to be the butt of your own joke  - but the comedian must stay on top.
·       Learn how to use the microphone and move the stand.
·       Keep your delivery fresh as if you’ve just thought about it.
·       If you’re enjoying it then the audience will enjoy it.
·       Making people laugh is a gift  - enjoy giving the gift.
·       The only thing you can control at a gig is you.
·       If people aren’t laughing it doesn’t mean that they aren’t enjoying it.
·       If it’s not going well don’t apologize.
·       What the worst that can happen? – no one laughs – but no one dies.
·       Understand fear and use it to your advantage.
·       Fail and fail fast  - then get up and do it again.
·       If it’s not working try and go with plan B.
·       Everyone has a bad gig.
·       Get feedback from people you respect and trust.
·       Comedy is addictive.
·       If you can’t do comedy watch it.
·       Be professional , turn up , do what is asked of you, a five minute set or a  whole show.
·       It takes a while to get enough material to have a whole show – share the stage with others.
·       Turn up be professional – don’t read off your hand, know your material
·       Manage the fear
·       Post performance adrenaline – what to do with it
·       Drop into the performance space – don’t just get on stage – take a moment
·       Being an MC is different to doing stand up, you are sign posting the night with a few jokes not doing all of your material.
·       Comedy rooms are a good way to start but there are more ways to skin a comedy cat.
·       Comedy and gender dont get me started.
·       Don’t confuse commercial success with other kinds of success. 
·       Don’t expect huge commercial success, so don’t give up the day job.
·       Doing comedy festivals is a financial risk make sure you don’t over commit  - be realistic about venue size ticket sales

excuse me there are crumbs in my comedy