Denise Scott is a well-known Australian comedian and author, who has won numerous critics awards for her stand-up shows. She is also a regular on Talkin ’bout Your Generation, Spicks and Specks and The 7 pm Project. Today, Denise has shared with Debrief Daily an extract from her book The Tour. A memoir for anyone who has ever found themselves considering what it is to be successful.
It wasn’t as if all my guilt magically disappeared that day by the roadside outside Townsville, but I did cut myself some slack, told myself I was doing the best I could for my mother and that it was time to stop using her Alzheimer’s, in the same way I had used my kids when they were young, as an excuse to avoid really going for it with my work. I needed to find out if, when I gave it my all, I could have a successful career.
I dreaded what could happen—what if I gave it my all and it turned out, as I’d suspected, that I really was a failure? The answer to that question came almost immediately. Within months of my return from the tour, my career, as they say in the trade, began to take off .
One door opened, and then another, and then another …
One door opened onto the stage at the Comedy Theatre, and I got to fulfi l my childhood dream: to stand alone there and perform my own solo show. It was called Number 26. There were people in the audience! A thousand people! And they’d even paid!
If you are to appreciate the following tale it is essential I describe my costume—a large, fluffy white dressing gown. Underneath, I wore a high-cut black leotard and a pair of fishnet stockings, which the audience didn’t see until the big reveal at the end of the show, when I performed a tap dance routine to the ‘131 008, silvertop taxis—why wait?’ jingle. I’ve always been a firm believer in bringing home a show with a leotard—it can distract the audience from the fact that you haven’t got a decent closing joke.
The first time I performed Number 26 at the Comedy Theatre all was going well until my microphone stopped working. It was one of those tiny lapel mikes, the sort newsreaders wear clipped onto their jacket. It was attached by wires to a battery pack that was in turn attached to a belt that I wore under my leotard. When the battery went, not wanting to prematurely reveal the leotard I decided to leave the stage so the stage manager could change it in private.
It wasn’t ideal, but what could I do? I simply told the audience to talk among themselves; I’d be back soon.
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A few minutes later, with a new battery in place, I stepped back onto the stage and continued with the show until the new battery stopped working. Like a brave soldier refusing to leave his mates at a time of crisis, I declared to my audience, ‘I will not leave you again.’ And so I stayed onstage. In the true spirit of showbiz, in order not to reveal the leotard, the poor manager— thankfully a woman—was forced to lie on the floor underneath me and virtually put her hand up my arse in orderto change the battery.
With that mission successfully accomplished, once more I set forth, regaling the audience with stories of life with John and the kids at Number 26, until ten minutes later that battery died.