‘I came off stage and cried’: Donna Brookbanks’ Melbourne Comedy Fest diary

Melbourne Comedy Festival: lots of shows, lots of cool people, fewer audiences. Auckland comedian Donna Brookbanks shares the second installment of her Melbourne festival diary.

Read Donna’s first diary entry here.

Dear Diary,

Today I woke up. Last night, Alice [Snedden] and I did our show to eight people! That’s 58 spare seats! I had to use my calculator to work that out because I am a comedian, not a math genius. They were a very lovely audience though.

After that, Eli Matthewson and I got into Becky Lucas’ show Little Bitch! Finally! She always sells out so it was so good to see 15 minutes of her show before we were brutally kicked out to make place for actual paying customers. Gosh darn it. (She is coming to NZ though for our fest and I would highly recommend seeing her).

Then I tried to get into New Order, a British line up show featuring the amazing Emma Sidi, but they told me I couldn’t take my beer in in a glass and I took it as a sign that maybe I should just sit on the couch and stare at the staff. So I did. Last night I was tired.

I did, however, see An Evening of Conversation with Guy and Carlo, an improvised show hosted by our very own Guy Montgomery and Australia’s very own Carlo Ritchie. They have special guests join them on stage. These special guests are actual comedians in disguise as characters! Ah, the magic of comedy and stuff.

I have eaten a lot of dumplings here. The food in Melbourne is insane. Nom nom nom.

The Snort team (including Donna, plus randoms).

Yesterday was Easter Sunday. Alice Snedden and Paul Williams organised a big Easter egg hunt at our Air BnB. They wrote clues and hid them over the house. At one point we had to look up a Youtube link which was a video of them giving an address that led us to Nic Sampson’s jacket which had Paul’s phone in which we used to call Alice who gave us another clue! Amazing!

It’s good to have these highs when there can definitely be some lows performing at the festival. I was really sick about a week ago and had to perform that night. It was the freakin worse, dearest of diaries. I had a temperature and goddamn, I sweated under those showbiz lights. I told the punchline of my joke before I’d even set it up and it felt like NOBODY laughed the entirety of my set. Well, they didn’t seem to anyway. As I looked out into the audience, the next 1,500 million shows stretched ahead of me.

I came off stage and cried in our tiny backstage area which we share with all the other shows and I was like, what am I doing with my life. I could not have wanted to go home to my cat any more than I did in that moment. I was so grateful to have me old mate, Alice, sitting back there in our cave with me. It was hard enough to get through the 25 minutes I had (which I did in record time that night because I just wanted to get off the bloody stage) but I imagined how stink it would be to have to do an hour, feeling like crap and having a quiet audience on top of that.

That has definitely been the lowest point. But I have risen again, dear diary! And have only six shows to go now. Which in a way, I feel quite sad about.

Flyering for my show (and Snort) is still really hard work. The other day I called two gentlemen ‘ladies’ by accident. And another day a teenage boy aggressively threw another person’s flyer at me. I hope he falls off his skateboard and lands on his peepee.

We have also been doing Snort here which has been a lot of fun. Last Thursday we had an ‘improv-off’ with Bear Pack, probably Australia’s best improv troupe I reckon. Their team featured Steen Raskopolous, Carlo Ritchie and NZ traitors Cal Wilson and Bridie Connell. There also a guy called Jack but I do not know his last name. And they had a cellist called Ange who plays along while they ‘prov. Such. FUN.

Shows I have seen that you should see in the NZ Comedy Festival: Becky Lucas, Rhys Nicholson, Aunty Donna, Guy Montgomery, Eli Matthewson, and Rose Matafeo. Hamish Parkinson and Nic Sampson are also doing their shows here but they are ones you will have already seen in last years festival, and you should see their new shows this year instead. 

Okay, well that’s all for now, diary. I guess I’ll see you back in NZ next week!

Make sure you go and see heaps of shows at the NZ Comedy Fest, diary! I guess you can’t because you are but a diary, but imagine if a whole lot of people were reading this! Wouldn’t that be WEIRD. Lucky I didn’t mention my crush aka ‘you know who’…


Gossip Girl

aka Donna

Donna has a show in the NZ Comedy Festival! You can book tickets here.

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