It wasn’t all beaches and seeing art and standing ovations in Australia(there were no standing ovations (probably just a cultural thing)). This is me flyering in a loincloth, on a Thursday night. A security guard is taking the photo. In a few minutes a woman will come up to me really uncomfortable, and say, “I know you’re an artist, but you have to cover up, it’s a liquor licensing thing” And then in a few more minutes, I’ll perform for like nine people, most of whom didn’t pay. It’ll be my worst night in Australia.
The bad parts of Australia: loud music bleeding into my venue the first four nights. Performing a theatre show in a comedy venue at 10:20 in the evening for people who don’t always realize they’re about to see a theatre show (maybe because you handed them a flyer in a loin-cloth, and told them they could totally bring their drinks to the show…). Slow ticket sales. Oh god, the terror of being a few days out from opening and having multiple nights with no RSVPs. The night the house manager came to the dressing room ten minutes before showtimes and said, “So we’re still at zero…” (two people ended up buying last minute, and like a dozen artists showed up so it turned out fine). I had two walk outs. One was a couple, the other was just one woman (whose date fucking stayed, which I feel great about(also it happened in a moment in the show where I could slyly address it, and I did, and that felt good)) and she ended up coming back like 20 minutes later. One night I had two friendly hecklers. Front row, they just sorta talked at me for the whole show. Said “You’re saved!” when the (Spoiler (kind of) if you haven’t seen the show) projection of Tom Hanks seeing the freighter played. There was also just the loneliness. Before I started meeting other artists it was just me and I did things like go to the opening night party, get a drink, look around at all the people I didn’t know, drink it quickly and alone and then go home. Did things like sit alone on beautiful tropical beaches and think about how the one time I saw a therapist the only advice she had for me was that I should be more proactive about dating. I got sunburned multiple times (even though I used sunscreen, just not enough apparently). My phone charger got stolen from the hostel. I let small automatic things like designing/acquiring flyers and turn into massive terrible tasks I was doing wrong and worried about way too much. My reviewer said she’d post the day after she saw my show, but then didn’t for THREE DAYS until I bugged her about it and turns out she wrote the thing, but then just like published it privately or something so that good review only got seen the day before my last show. There were other things that sucked which I’m already forgetting. Some mornings I woke up with this terrible pit in my stomach.
To have the bad thing you dread happen, and totally survive it. To fail at something, and realize that you were always going to fail because jesus that was difficult and specific, and at least you failed now rather than pussyfoot around it for five years and then fail all the same, but just five years closer to death. I saw this quote attributed to Steven Wright: “The sooner you fall behind, the more time you’ll have to catch up” That’s part of how I feel about the struggles of Australia.
The other part of it is a lesson a lot of people have tried to teach me, but I’ve always been very resistant to: namely the importance of failure. From the 10 Rules John Cage popularized, “there is no fail.” I’ve been thinking it over, and I’ll phrase it like this: if you can’t fail, there is just not that much you can do. Trying to make art without failing along the way is maybe like trying to see nature without getting dirty. You’re not going to get very far. And the places you get to, maybe don’t take me there because it doesn’t sound very interesting.
This trip has been interesting. More than interesting. It has been the most fulfilling experience of my life to date. And the difficulties were part of that.