Tonight I entered my first Poet Slam event and I've got to say, it was very disappointing.
I've never been to one of these before, although I'd watched a fair amount of YouTube videos in the lead up to the event.
And it didn't help that I bombed.
My piece was on Mario from the Nintendo game Super Mario Brothers and I had some amazing feedback from family, friends and colleagues. I certainly received a lot of laughs at the event with my comedic style, one-liners and added insult for fans of the Fremantle Dockers and Fords.
I had rewritten parts and cut out a lot of lines on many occasions, based on the feedback I received in the weeks prior. But my time was going to be tight and it got to a point where I couldn't really cut anything else out of my script without losing the point of the story:
Mario goes through portals, we all want to find our time machine especially as we get older, to catch up on all the milestones but then we look at the game and Mario can't actually access any portals without consuming magic mushrooms. So maybe finding portals and time machines are only possible as the result of being in a state of hallucination!
Up to six mates and colleagues had said they'd be there with one of them coming to film me for my parentals but no one came (who could blame them when it was freezing cold with very heavy rains?)
Before I knew it, I was called on as the second act with participants ordered randomly so I had no choice but to ask someone in the audience to film it with my phone. Problem was, I'd been practising with my timer on the phone to ensure I read my piece at a slow pace to help me be aware of the two minute cut off time. Nobody stopped you going over, although there was a warning bell at the 1.50 minute mark but you lose a point for every 30 seconds over.
So the result was that I read it way too fast, became flustered and because I now had a hand free (the other holding my script as backup, which unfortunately I had to rely on even though I knew it by heart but confidence was good as gone!), I was doing stupid things with my hand like as if I was rapping. My Papa did tell me to rehearse in front of a video camera to ensure that my presentation was good but I don't know why I didn't make myself get around to it.
Watching the video afterwards was an extremely painful experience, although performing at this open mic event was solely the purpose of a self-inflicted dare in order to help me step outside of my comfort zone. Experiencing the anxiety in the lead up was definitely the biggest and most painful punishment.
But what I found surprising and disappointing about the event was that my piece was pretty much the only non-serious performance (unless you count the guy who was talking about how all babies are ugly and that you should get a dog but at times it was kind of dark). The majority of the performers spoke about rape victims, domestic violence, death, how shit our politicians are, how people didn't like their bodies or they just didn't conform to society's standards, women being seen as sex objects, men reflecting on the lives of their penis etc.
As much as some of these issues are important to openly discuss and as much as I am all for freedom of speech, apart from perhaps the last discussed issue mentioned, it was all the negative aspects of life I read everyday in the newspaper. Which is why newspapers sell and news reports are watched. (Minus the heavy utilised profanity and sexual references).
I don't get how people can be so focused on all the negative aspects of life and why they let it surround them in their everyday life. I realise that perhaps a Poet Slam is an opportunity to rage and vent and for once, be heard with strong emotions which have the power to consume and captivate the audience. As for the profanity, I would say at least half utilised its power and a further half definitely used it in excess but if that helps build the emotion, well so be it.
The style of writing for many of the performers made me feel like I was back in high school. Not to the extent of a difficult Shakespeare piece but for most, certainly not the type to capture a mainstream audience although that may have been the reason why emotion and profanity was a key focus.
It was an interesting experience, despite my shameful performance of not reciting my words slow enough and not being themed with a heavy stench of negativity but it's definitely not something I would want to even think of experiencing again. All I want to do is make people laugh (I most certainly do that at just about every single day at work) and my style of writing has given me so much positive feedback from family, friends, colleagues and even strangers so I definitely would not want to adapt to the style of writing the performers do at these events. Nor would I want to focus on rape, brutality, abuse or whatever negative issue in favour of making people laugh, especially when people certainly don't laugh enough! I'm kinda daring myself to be here today
Because I've spent 37 years of wishing my life away.
I'm facing the facts... I'm almost fifty
So I start thinkin, I'm going to have to get shifty
I used to be hooked on the Mario game, which sounds kinda lame
Cos I was looking for these warp pipes
You know, when the time on the clock completely wipes
And yeah... I want that!
So Maaan, I came up with a plan and this is where it all began
First I need Mario’s mushroom to consume, I presume
But hey... that's a psychotropic!
LSD hallucinations that make your vision kaleidoscopic?
Now I realise I've been chasing drugs as a kid
My innocence has now hit a skid, my childhood... God forbid!
So how now brown cow do I find my time machine?
I'm trying to find a way to cross reality from my locality
Which in theory, GREAT SCOTT there goes my immortality at the expense of my morality!
It turned out, I just needed to get high in order to intensify
My search for finding a warp pipe amidst all this drug hype
I get that Mario's just an avatar but that is kinda bizarre
Because without a mushroom to consume, Mario needs to complete every level in the game
That takes forever so maaaan, how can that be a clever endeavour?
It's like my life, which feels as slow as a frog in a tweed suit running after a muppet
I think winning Lotto has more potential, especially if I buy a ticket which appears to be essential
But I still have my burning desire to find a portal
Just so I can catch up on the milestones to help me feel more immortal
Maybe the game shouldn't be over-analysed and eternalised
For a start, Mario's a plumber without a plumbers crack
And that's a trait supposedly more common than the Dockers winning a game at any rate Everything in life has its flaws which half the time you have to ignore
It's like when you buy a ford because it's all that you can afford
It's not as powerful as you imagine until you install a Holden engine
So I guess Mario's little game is over. I think Donkey Kong can come and takeover!