It's Melbourne International Comedy Festival time, which is my favourite time of the year. Autumn in Melbourne and almost a month of listening to folks who share my love of all that is tangent. Being spoiled for choice means that sometimes I end up seeing a show that might not be my cup of tea. Though by and large I am getting better at selecting comedians who may appeal to my strong preference for observational humour, with whimsical and absurdist leanings. I avoid caberet comedians in much the same way as I avoid musicals.
I am not obsessively out and about every night watching a show, I simply do not have the stamina for it. But I pace myself to catch 2-3 shows a week while the festival runs its course. This seems to me to be the best way to balance work, being my usual hermit writing self, and some play time. I get less writing done in April as I am also incapable of juggling three balls at once.
I do find that the festival inspires me, usually a comment made by one of the comedians I am seeing grabs me and leads my mind off on a tangent. Then some time later I emerge with an idea or two for short stories or other creative work. Here's an example:
A line from Maria Bamford (now appearing at the Festival) - "most people work hard, play harder". Adrelalin rush crazy fucks. "I sleep hard, dream harder." I loved this punch line! Aside from being much more my pace, I immediately visualised, what if the hard dreamer was doing things as crazy as the hard players? A sleeping walking adventure junkie? And people could not tell the person was asleep? And the person had no memory of the sleeping travels? I thought the story would make for an interesting philosophical journey exploring the idea that most people sleep walk through their daily lives awake. The contrast could be very powerful. So without even breaking out a sweat, I have an idea for a short story that I will probably call "Sleepwalker".
Two other short stories ideas have emerged this week, talking to various friends and colleagues - unofficial muses - around the festival.
The second short story, which I'll likely call "Two Days Later", revolves around the idea of the impact of a person who is not very good at figuring out when they have said something offensive. It will be loosely based on the true story of a time when a girlfriend of mine punched me in the arm on the third day of a wine tasting road trip and it was only two days later when I figured out what I had said to offend her. But I thought I might put a speculative bent on it by taking the short fuse initial impact by the girlfriend triggering some kind of ticking time bomb which, unless I figure out the puzzle within two days, will lead to some very dire consequences. I may even pay homage to Failsafe as I write the multiple perspectives. It will no doubt offer some great fodder for the importance of self-awareness.
The third short story, which I'll likely call "Oxygen Thief", revolves around the idea of the spoiler in any project. This is the person who sits in on meetings (about developing / implementing major projects) week after week and saying nothing. Their silence is taken to be muted acceptance of the direction of the work. But at the 11th hour (and 59th minute), they open their mouth and spew forth the missle that destroys all that has come before. I think this story could be a 'real' every day what is it like to work in government piece. I already think taking it along that line would be boring (for me anyway). I think instead this story could speculate about the spoiler in the room actually stealing oxygen and the slow and steady process by which he does it until he reaches a point where a major heist is needed for his survival. I think this could work as a metaphor for the 'real' but with greater scope to inject some humour or perhaps even horror into the piece.
It will probably be some time before I can write these potential gems. The workload on the novel writing is taking most of my spare time at the moment. I can but dream harder, knowing I have the drive to find a day or two to pen some playful short stories emerging from my already bursting imagination.