Time for another blog, this time written aboard Air Canada flight 86-something, en route from Montreal back to London. It’s one of those “red-eye” flights that left Montreal at 7.30pm, and arrives in London at 7.30am.
Unfortunately I have been going to bed at around 4am Montreal time, which means that I’m not tired now, but just as I arrive home in London, I’ll be needing sleep. At 9am. But I need to stay up all day. Bollocks.
Anyway, I thought I’d fill you in on a few memorable moments to arise for me in this year’s Just For Laughs Comedy Festival.
It all began a week ago, when I alighted the plane at Montreal airport, only to bump into the lovely Simon Amstell, who until recently was the host of the British music quiz show, “Never Mind The Buzzcocks”. Simon and I have known each other for a while, and have often sat backstage comparing our respective jobs.
As we made our way through immigration, Simon was recognised by what I assumed was a middle-aged Scotsman on holiday. I walked on ahead, only to have Simon catch up a few minutes later with the phrase “Sorry about that. That was Midge Ure”.
(Just in case you don’t know – Midge Ure was the lead singer of 80’s band Ultravox, famous for the hit song “Vienna”, and was the co-creator and organiser of the original Live Aid with Bob Geldof)
The next week was a lovely blur of catching up with some great friends and fellow comedians – Jimmy Carr, Ross Noble, Wil Anderson, Julia Morris – as well as some bizarre “Montreal moments”. In no particular order, here are a few of them.
* Panic set in around the Festival one night when John Cleese took ill and was unable to host one of the Galas. Rumours also abounded as to the reason – Was he really ill? Was his material deemed inappropriate?
The following morning I found out the answer, when I held the lift doors open for Mr Cleese, as he and an assistant joined my fiancee and I in an elevator. In the silence that usually accompanies an elevator ride, I asked how he was feeling. He said he was ok. I asked what had caused the illness. He said it was prostatitis.
I told him I also suffer from prostatitis. He said he felt it coming on a few days ago. I asked if he was still going to perform. He said he would, while wearing a catheter. The doors opened, and I wished him well.
That’s right people. I shared an elevator with John Cleese, a legend of British comedy, and what did we talk about? The legacy of Fawlty Towers? The cult of Monty Python. His amazing film career? Nope. We bonded over prostates.
Two days later I saw him again across the lobby. I can’t be sure, but I think he may have recognised me. And maybe, just maybe, he smiled hello at me.
• A meeting was organised for the final day that involved me, my Australian manager, my newly -employed US manager, and two agents from the biggest agency in the world CAA. Ari and Ashleigh were their names, and they basically told me what their agency could do for me were I to spend a little more time in LA.
After telling me that their agency represents such clients as Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise, they asked about my history. I told them about Spicks and Specks, my stand up career, and even mentioned that I worked in radio in Australia, and could do it again if necessary.
At this point Ari turned to me and said “I don’t want to put you on radio. I wanna put you in movies.”
Bang. For a brief moment I thought I was in an episode of Entourage.
• Saturday night, I was booked to play one of the televised Galas – the biggest gig in Montreal. Unfortunately I was also booked to host a club gig called Go West, half an hour out of the city. Inconveniently, I had also booked tickets to see Bill Cosby live.
Somehow I managed to watch forty minutes of Bill Cosby, be driven to the club gig, host it, and hop in the van at 9.30pm for a Gala that started at 10. I didn’t count on 1) roadworks 2) fireworks and 3) traffic, and by the time I got to the Gala it had already started and I was frazzled.
I was tired, stressed, nervous, and massively grumpy at what I considered to be poor scheduling. As I stood outside my dressing room, desperately trying to paste a smile on my face, Martin Short walked past.
(Just in case: Martin Short was a cast member of Saturday Night Live, and was in such films as Father Of the Bride and The Three Amigos. He also hosted a Gala I appeared in last year in Toronto)
As he approached, he seemed to recognise me, so I held out my hand and said “Hi I’m Adam. I worked with you in Toronto last year”. Martin Short then stood with me in the doorway of my dressing room and chatted for a good fifteen minutes. At one point Wil Anderson walked in to wish me luck, saw me with Marty (I call him Marty) shook his head in disbelief, and wandered back out again.
As we parted I mentioned that I was now no longer worried about my set, at which point Marty patted me on the shoulder and said “Oh I have no doubt you’ll kill”. He then wandered off down the hallway – Martin Short, a little smiling Amigo-buddha.
• My set at the Gala was indeed a fun one, and when I got backstage my US manager Jodi was waiting for me. “I almost didn’t’ see your set”, she told me, “I got caught talking to Neil Patrick Harris”
(One more – Neil Patrick Harris is in the TV show “How I Met Your Mother” but is best known for his role as Doogie Howser MD)
“I had to say to him – Sorry to leave but my client is about to perform”
That’s right. My manager blew off Doogie Howser to come watch me perform. Zing.
So, to sum up, it was a fun week. Other brief moments included being told by a woman “I used to handle Bill Hicks and I think you’re awesome”, meeting a promoter who was behind Michael Jackson’s cancelled London run, and constantly walking past the actor that played the grumpy neighbour in Friends but more importantly played a mechanic in one of my all-time favourite films “Running Scared”, with Billy Crystal.
A massive shout out has to go to the acts in the Late Nite Down Under Show, which was an absolute stormer this year. Tom Ballard, Julia Morris, Jimeoin, Akmal Saleh and Wil Anderson were all outstanding, as was Mark Watson, who stepped in for Jimeoin due to a scheduling clash.
For lovers of comedy, check out the following names on Youtube if you can – Matt Knudsen (his routine about all you can eat buffets was one of my favourites of the week) Andy Kindler (everything he does is brilliant) and Stewart Francis (I love him)
UK viewers can see me on Mock the Week this week (if I can stay awake), and of course the Edinburgh Festival starts next week, so let the games begin.
I’m gonna try to get some sleep now, and in case you’re wondering – I don’t have internet access on the plane. I am writing this blog now, and will post it later.
All good things