There’s a pretty good drinking game I indulge in these days. Requires the right people, though, can’t just be a bunch of random weirdos you’ve met at the bar – there’s other, less cerebral games for that scenario. What this game entails is you get progressively drunker, and begin every third sentence with, “Hey, do you remember when…?” Rather riotous fun, depending on the mix of people and alcohol. Fiona O’Loughlin and Mickey D – in this setting probably more Mick Dwyer than his alter ego – indulge in a fair bit of this game, sitting across from each other on a bare stage.
The two friends met twenty-odd years ago at Adelaide Fringe when both were barely rookies in the scene. Both have gone on to become veritable comedy royalty, having done the fringe circuit – Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, NZ, Montreal, and Edinburgh, in that order – for many years. As you’d expect, they’ve picked up one or two stories in that time. Dwyer acts as a foil for O’Loughlin, throwing out prompts and helping the show along; O’Loughlin freely admits that the show is vastly different every night. It’s not so much a retrospective or greatest hits album, released to eke out one last payday for either of them, but more two old mates shooting the breeze. There’s a little of bit of This is Your Life to it, but the nostalgia is quick and more a sub-text to the actual stories they both share. When they get on a roll over a certain story where they bounce off each other, regularly cracking each other up, it’s clearly purely organic.
Neither pull any punches regarding their sobriety either, both having battled addiction issues quite infamously in the past. Dwyer recounts a story where he came to in a Melbourne hotel room, having already missed a flight. His producer was reading him the riot act, telling him “Other comics can pull this sort of stunt, they’ve already got a profile, but you’re a nobody – pull your sh*t together!” Both have now got several dry years under their belts, and are clearly doing better for it.
O’Loughlin has announced that this will be her last Fringe, according to her she’s done everything and said everything she wanted to with comedy, and as far as a last hurrah goes, this is a pretty good way to do it. More victory lap than anything else, O’Loughlin’s definitely earned a chance to wave a trophy around and bask in acclamation.
4 / 5 stars
Words by Mikey Della Porta
An Evening with Fiona O’Loughlin is on until March 15
For more information and to purchase tickets click here
When it’s cold and rainy outside there is nothing better than curling up on the couch with a good book and a cup of tea*. Having seen While You Were Reading all over social media, I finally gave in and picked up a copy so I could do just that. While You Were Reading is writer duo Ali Berg and Michelle Kalus’s second book together after The Book Ninja.
There’s just something heart-warming about reading rom-coms in familiar settings. Seeing these conventional rom-com women in locations I could easily find myself in gives the story just that touch more authenticity than reading something set in another part of the world.
Beatrix Babbage is on the cusp of thirty and she’s just ruined her best friend’s wedding. It was an accident, but she’s ruined Cassandra’s life and now Cass won’t even speak to her. Feeling alone and wanting to give Cass space, Bea packs up her life and moves to Melbourne, an hour away from her sister who she gushes to about her new marketing job—isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. While struggling to come up with slogans for toothpaste and trying to move past the office misogyny, Bea befriends local barista Dino, whose strong skinny lattes and quotes bring light to her new life.
Alone and disconnected, Bea tries to branch out, going to slam poetry events and exploring Melbournian bookshops. In The Little Brunswick Street Bookstore Bea picks up a second-hand copy of Meeting Oliver Bennett, a book that can only be described as life changing. The book is filled with annotations from its previous owner and Bea quickly falls in love with them. Desperate to the find the writer, Bea creates an Instagram account to help her find them. But the quest is short-lived and Mystery Writer pops into her life as if it were fate. His name is Zach and he works as an editor for a local publishing house. Bea is a goner – how could such a perfect man exist? And better yet, find her? It’s almost too good to be true! And maybe it is.
As much as Bea fits your traditional romantic heroine stereotypes she also takes a step back, proving to herself and the reader that despite wanting love and affection she is her own person and needs both space and fulfilling relationships with others. I think the focus on the importance of surrounding yourself with good friends is a great lesson in this book. It can be so easy to go along with what someone else wants and never consider what you want.
While I love Ruth and Philip, Martha is one of my favourite characters. Both Bea and Martha are completely at ease with their toilet-stall relationship. Everyone, no matter the industry, needs someone to vent to at work – even better if you share similar interests like Bea and Martha with their love of Jane Austen. Later in the novel when Bea bumps into Martha again it seems the perfect time for their real friendship to kick off, not just as friends but as business associates. Martha teaching Bea how to run her accounts is a great example of women helping women, and each woman in this novel is autonomous and motivated by their own goals, whether their goals are business, sustainability, or revenge.
This is a book for every book-loving romantic, with literary allusions aplenty!
* Ideally your cup of tea should be of the never-ending variety and forever comfortably warm. If anyone finds said cup of tea, please let me know where I can get one.
The Cry, a psychological thriller TV series originally broadcast in the UK last year, hit our television screens in early-February. It is also available on ABC iView.
It tells the story of Joanna (Jenna Coleman) and Alistair (Ewen Leslie), young parents whose baby son disappears while they travelled from Scotland to Melbourne to reunite with Alistair’s fourteen-year-old daughter. Subsequently, Joanna and Alistair are subject to both police and media scrutiny, putting pressure on their relationship.
Prior to the disappearance, Joanna is overwhelmed by motherhood, suffering from post-natal depression. She is the primary carer of their son. As Alistair fails to give her proper support, she spirals into a deep chasm of grief following the child’s disappearance. Alistair manages to better control his grief.
Throughout the show, we learn that Alistair is manipulative and controlling, driving his and Joanna’s relationship from the very beginning. After the disappearance, he instructs Joanna on what to say and do during press conferences and interviews. He controls their public image.
Coleman gives a perfect performance as Joanna. I can’t fault her at all. She plays the part of a mother extremely well. In essence, her performance is real and genuine, despite her not having any children.
Leslie also gives a convincing performance as Alistair. As with Coleman, his performance came across as genuine and real. I wouldn’t be surprised if he and Coleman win an award or two for their performances.
The Cry is captivating, emotional, and full of twists and turns. I found it incredibly addictive. It’s the perfect example of what a psychological thriller should be.
I’d recommend this show to people who enjoy psychological thrillers.
When Simon vomited the grief of his father’s death into a plastic bag on the rooftop of a Melbourne hostel, I couldn’t help but consider what a poignant narrative climax it would make. I was standing in fog freckled with security-light orange, hiccupping Smirnoff bile when he moved to the low wall by the edge. Ben ran after him; we were terrified he’d fall or throw himself over. He was trembling and wet-dog snivelling, but he hadn’t been stuck in his end-of-the-world grief all night. Not like he was then.
It was 2008 and we were twenty. Far too young, really, for that kind of grief. The weekend escape had been concocted just days before, the kind of flyaway ‘why not’ you can get away with between university semesters when there’s nothing but long nights in friends’ backyards to fill the space of days. We’d started late in the afternoon with a bottle of vodka and pink and orange slushies from the 7Eleven. We played brain freeze and a game of Presidents and Assholes with Mexican girls who were in town to see the Pope for World Youth Day. It hadn’t been a remarkable evening except that he’d been smiling through most of it. Sitting in the hostel corridor floor, his knees didn’t seem to jut so much from his too-big pants and he had that goofy look like he used to have, back when we’d welt our fingertips from too much Guitar Hero and fall asleep at 4am amongst soda cans and melted M&Ms. So instead of worrying about him, as I had for days, weeks, months, really, I’d been mentally composing a gothic piece set in the Old Gaol just over the road. Flood lights cast shadows on brick beyond the windows and I watched for spectral faces behind the bars — I’d had strange shivers in a cell the day before, one renowned for its paranormal visitations, and there was a story in it, I knew.
When we said goodnight to the Mexicans, I should have expected the hug that began with a moon-smile and ended in his fingers clenching tight to my back, that silent quiver in his bones. That he’d slip through my arms to a bundle on the floor. And that my own heart would break, again, because I couldn’t heal his.
We came up to the roof and he pushed his fingers firmly against me: ‘Fuck off.’
But Ben and I crept up anyway, pressed our ears against the door. We listened to the thud of fold-up chairs, benches scattering against the concrete. The gravelled roar of his yell. That’s when we rushed. We found him standing still, his beanpole silhouette striking against the broad grey of the gaol.
‘I’m gonna be sick.’
Ben ran with a plastic bag pulled from his pockets. The heave of vomit was spectacular. That’s when he stumbled to the low wall by the edge. When I thought he might jump.
The ghosts next door disappeared.
He looked up at us and a shift came over him. Something in his eyes. He peered over the edge, looking down at the wet street: a cat curling around a lamppost, the short white apartment building opposite. He rocked back on his heels and grinned. Then he threw it. The wobbling bag, strangely graceful in its own way, sailed across the street and landed on slanted tiles above a porthole window. The liquid threatened the plastic, then after a tense moment, rested.
A strange stillness passed.
‘Fucking hell,’ said Ben. ‘That was beautiful.’
Simon gripped us, tipped his head back and, throaty with catharsis, he laughed.
It was difficult not to see the narrative potential.
Art by Rhianna Carr
Words by Lauren Butterworth
Lauren Butterworth is a writer, academic and editor with creative work published in a variety of outlets including Meanjin, Verity La, Wet Ink, Midnight Echo and more. She is co-director of The Hearth, a readings event that aims to platform exciting local voices in a space that nurtures creativity, conversation and ideas. She is also a host and producer of the podcast Deviant Women which tells the stories of women who dare to break the rules and subvert the system. During the day, she teaches at Flinders University and is editor at MidnightSun Publishing.
In 2016 Malaika Gilani published her first poetry collection: Untold Journeys. She was seventeen. This year she has been a part of the global anthology, I Bared My Chest, comprising of 21 phenomenal women telling their stories. Recently I had the chance to interview this Melbourne-based poet and talk about inspiration, writing advice, and poetry.
Could you give us a brief overview of your current published poetic work? What are its themes and what would you like your audience to know before reading it?
Untold Journeys is about everyday life. Things we all experience: friendship, family, body issues, and so much more. There is at least one poem in there that you can connect with. If the poems aren’t giving advice then they are there to show you that whatever you are going through, you are not alone. Someone is going through the exact same thing too.
What was it like publishing a poetry collection at seventeen?
It was amazing to be doing something that not many people have done. However, there have been rejections because I am too young and inexperienced. But who cares, life is all about the good. If we start focusing on the negatives then we won’t be able to live at all. I’ve loved it. The support from my family and friends has been a huge part of how I got here. They help me stay humble and enjoy this experience at the same time.
What inspires you to create poetry?
People, their experiences, and their lives.
If you could sum up what you would like your poetry to evoke what would you say?
You are not alone. We are all going through the same things. In the end, it’s the things within us that make us more alike than we will ever know.
Could you tell me a bit about I Bared My Chest? What was it like working with and collaborating with other artists to create this anthology?
You could say it was an interview of 21 authors in book form. All participants were given a series of questions to answer, to show people someone else has gone through the same thing as you and to show people that artists are not [all] geniuses. We are [people] like everyone else, anyone can achieve what we have.
It was amazing to work with people who are so much more experienced than I am. I learnt so much from them and was in awe of how wonderful and cooperative they were. Most importantly, I realised we were all normal humans – we disagreed, we celebrated, we got sad and angry and happy.
Have there been any books/authors/poets that have deeply inspired you? If so, what are they?
Sue Lawson and Jackie French.
Sue came to my school once when I was in year nine and has been in contact with me since. And Jackie is such an amazing and inspiring lady. I contacted her to review Untold Journeys and she has been a huge part of my life since. I email her and she instantly replies, giving me advice and encouragement.
What advice would you give to other poets and writers?
Rejections make you want it more. It makes everything more meaningful too. I appreciate my work and others’ so much more now because I know what hardships we all have to go through.
What has been the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
If we start focusing on the negatives then we won’t be able to live at all.
Are there any upcoming projects that we can be excited for?
For now, I am on hold. I am starting university, so I am going to focus on that for now. However, once I am done with my psychology degree I will think about whether or not I still want to focus on writing and continue my writing journey.
Tulpa writer Liam McNally sat down with Porch Governor Sharni Honor in the wonderful surrounds of Glenelg’s Seafaring Fools, to talk music in Adelaide, how Porch Sessions got its start, and the journey from beginning to award and success!
How did Porch Sessions start out? Was it initially your idea or did you have collaborators from the start?
It started out as a tiny idea in my brain. I’ve always been a passionate follower of music and it was a response to an assignment, of all things, while I was studying at Music SA. At the end of the year, they were like ‘put all your skills in one little box and see if you can put on an event and make it happen’. I remember looking back at my big journal and on the second page I’d scribbled ‘porch sessions’. And then I had the first gig in my parent’s front garden and threw it all together. I had no idea what I was doing. There’s no manual on how to put [a gig] on in someone’s house. A lot of it was straight-in-the-deep-end, flying-by-the-seat-of-your-pants. After doing the first one, the response was massive. It was sold out, 150 people. Timberwolf played our first show, who’s now killing it. The headliner was Benjalu, which is now one half of Boo Seeka who are also doing great things interstate. I guess after that first show, it was, ‘this is great, when’s the next one?’ And then it hit me, ‘I can’t just have gigs at my parents’ house for the rest of time, how’s this thing going to grow?’ Then the travelling element came up.
Where was the second gig?
It was actually a punter who came to the first gig. My yoga teacher at the time, straight after the show, she was like ‘I’m having the next one!’ Realistically, now, the house was a little bit of a tricky space to work in. We had two shows back-to-back there and a guy named Stu Larsen who is now one of our favourite artists played two sold out shows there and that kicked things into full motion.
Where did the idea for Porchland come up?
I guess the cool thing about Porch Sessions is that it ultimately started as a travelling backyard music festival is now a brand that represents nice times, amazing experiences, and unique spaces. The idea around Porchland is that as we have so many intimate shows that can be fifty people in a tiny space and [from that] we bring together everyone from these tiny gigs to have a dance and celebrate. We bring it all together in one space.
Have you branched out into pubs and other different things?
We’ve dabbled with curating music in spaces but we’re pretty diligent on the reason for which we exist. We don’t exist in venues, and that’s kind of our point of difference. That said, we do curate music in spaces and help people out in that sense. I guess to take music out of that and create venues where venues don’t exist is our biggest passion.
Do you ever do a gig in the city?
Not really. We have done Tram Sessions. That was a concept that originated in Melbourne. We’re good mates with the guys who run that and we toured it to Adelaide. We pick a tram stop, everyone jumps on and we play like five songs. People get on. People get off. It’s uncomfortable. It’s amazing. That’s the main thing we do in the city.
So, taking music to the audience, rather than the audience coming to the music?
A thousand percent. It’s amazing how much can be said for creating that atmosphere and setting the tone before the music even starts. When you design the architecture of a space, it can dictate how the night goes. When venues get in that stale space and become sometimes more about the bar and making money and surviving, which is what they have to do, the music becomes secondary to them surviving, ultimately.
On the subject of surviving, how do you find surviving in the Adelaide arts scene?
It’s hard. Very, very hard. The thing about Porch Sessions is that we pride ourselves on having super high quality across the board. High quality music, first and foremost. And we pay for it. We have some of the highest artist fees across South Australia for the music we book. For some reason a lot of people assume, ‘that’s a nice thing, it must be like a volunteer thing’. No way. We pay our artists really quite well, and all of our staff and photographers, and videographers. All the content that comes out of our shows is really valued and we’re pretty diligent about that. It takes a long time to balance all of that while trying to stay afloat and put bread on the table. It’s really tricky.
It is concentrated for a lot of people into one month. I know a lot of us who do this as a full-time job are very quick to wipe our hands clean of March and just step away from it because we slog our guts out for the rest of the year. It’s easy to be disheartened by it.
I suppose it’s a bit of a case of people building up all year for Fringe season and they just own that one month.
It’s exciting and people are pumped but we’ve got to look after the people who maintain our arts scene year-round. I guess, for people like us who live and breathe the industry, it never stops. It’s quite hard to get on the level of those who do dip in and out. It’s quite hard to be in those shoes sometimes but that’s reality. It’s really hard to keep on top of when things are happening. It’s work for people to go to shows and to find out about things. We have to remember that as curators.
Is that why you have Porchland, as your big event, about as far away from March as you possibly can?
For sure. It’s taken time. I guess the beautiful thing about Porch is that by moving really slowly, we’ve developed a really strong following and a lot of our shows do sell out. When we do have shows 45 minutes from Adelaide, to pull 180 people to a space is really quite cool. That takes a really long time to build and generate.
Is the advertising you do, like the coasters and posters here [Seafaring Fools], really just for Porchland, rather than the Sessions?
We’ve been pretty underground with our marketing for Porch Sessions. Social media is huge for us; mailing lists, word of mouth, the artists themselves. That sells the shows without us having to put up posters. Also, with such a turnaround of shows – we probably run over thirty events in a given year – if we were to put out marketing for every show, it’d be work that wouldn’t need to exist. I guess that’s the cool thing about Porchland, we can get people who’ve never heard of what we do to this one big event.
The Sessions themselves just build by word-of-mouth, then? I don’t think I’ve ever seen any advertising for a Porch Session.
I guess it’s that there is a kind of ‘beautiful secret’ element to it, and being in residential houses, we just publicise the suburb [rather than address] and put out the line-up. There isn’t much of a need for it. The next three shows, in the summer series, are all sold out, which is super cool. There isn’t much of a need for marketing. It’s an amazing privilege to have in Adelaide.
You’ve built to the point where you have a major social media following and you won the award Best Music Event/Festival at the SA Music Awards, beating out even Womad.
It was so unexpected. Everything at that festival [Womad], I go to, and admire, and get inspired by. That was mindblowing. Unbelievable.
As wonderful as Womad is, it must have been something to see someone other than them win anyway.
We were at the back, drinking beers and we were like ‘that’s not Womad – oh my God, this is not a drill!’ It was bizarre. To be considered on the same level is cool in itself but to actually take that [award] out, is very cool.
How’s that affected things? Is it just in the industry or externally as well?
I think actually across the board. It’s amazing how many people have heard about it. It lifts us into a new bracket. It attaches a new professionalism to what we do and nationally it’s been really well recognised.
How many sessions do you have ready in advance at any given time?
We’re always forward-programming. We’re still pulling into place the rest of this season that runs up until the start of May. We have another three shows we’re going to release over the next couple of weeks and that’ll be the season done. Then we start on the winter shows. We also have Porch Session on Tour where we pack up five caravans and travel between Queensland and South Australia. It’s full-on and fast-paced but it’s the best. We’re already starting to plan for that next year.
Tulpa Magazine thanks Sharni Honor for her time, Jack Fenby for the Porch Sessions feature photo, and Harley Vincent for the photo from Porchland.