Oh dear, I may have gone too far…
OK, tonight’s show (the first of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival) started the usual way. I found some interesting people in the crowd – a couple of teenagers called Tom and Tessa – a few latecomers, some young girls in the front row (who copped more abuse from me than they deserved for their youth) and then an IT manager called Chris. As is my wont, I decided to haul Chris on stage for a photo for the blog.
Chris seemed game for a laugh and said he could tell a few jokes, so I suggested he could become a regular part of the show. Maybe every Thursday could be Chris Hughes night, and he could tell a few jokes as part of each show. The guy sitting next to Chris claimed to be his “agent” so we began haggling over a fee.
I told the audience that the theme of this year’s show is that each and every person in the room is more interesting to me than so-called “celebrities” and used Shiloh Jolie Pitt (apparently the first born of Brad and Angelina) as an example. I then decided that my mission for the rest of the Festival would be to make Chris Hughes more famous than the Pitt offspring. That’s when it got weird.
I asked around and found someone in the crowd that worked for Business Review Weekly magazine, and another who had a contact at The Age. I figured we could use them to make Chris a star. But how to make him famous? I figured the best ways to become famous right now in Australia are – 1) make a joke about Bindi Irwin 2) be involved in an inappropriate on-air scandal or 3) be photographed semi nude in the shower.
Chris baulked at all three, but did concede to the final one. After consulting his agent however, he upped the ante. Chris told me he would only take part in all this, if I promised to publicise a charity called the Simon Rhoden Foundation which raises funds to deal with Cystic Fibrosis. I agreed but then said that we should set ourselves a target.
It was then somehow decided that if we could raise $20,000 by the end of the Festival, Chris would strip to bicycle shorts. $50,000 and he’d strip to Speedos (or as it was put to me – “budgie smugglers”). $100,000 and he and his agent would nude up. I again agreed, but since the season is already sold out, and the crowd won’t be able to buy tickets to see it – we should do it in a public place.
So if we can raise $20,000 for the Simon Rhoden Foundation by the end of the Festival, Chris Hughes the sexy IT guy will strip on stage at Federation Square in Melbourne on the final night of the Festival.
I then took this sexy photo of Chris the IT Manager to use for publicity;
and asked for captions. The best included:
“Is he looking sexy or has he just thrown his hip?”
“Isn’t your e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org?”
“You’d be amazed how much RAM I can squeeze into these pants”
but the audience favourite was:
“Have you tried turning it off and turning it on again?”
So, the challenge is this: to raise as much money as we can by the end of the Festival for the Simon Rhoden Foundation, by making an IT Manager called Chris Hughes a star. It was suggested that we should start by creating posters of Chris with the above slogan.
Sadly I ran out of time in the show, so I asked Chris and his “agent” to come back to the show tomorrow night, along with a German lady and her boyfriend who happened to be sitting next to them. I’m not sure what they can bring to the party, but her German efficiency combined with the fact that he is a butcher might lead us somewhere. I also invited an intelligent and classy woman in the audience who was a landscape gardener. Again, not sure why, maybe she can manscape him before the strip.
I have absolutely no idea where this will go from here. Hopefully the Age and BRW contacts will lead us somewhere. Maybe Chris’ IT skills will help me find a way to link my blogs to the charity’s website. Perhaps the butcher is a marketing whiz.
Keep following it all here on my daily blog, and I will keep you updated as the Festival proceeds.
Oh God, and it’s only Day One.
PS Don’t forget to check out the shows I am producing this year – Wilson Dixon, Adam Vincent, David Smiedt and Pedro Tochas.