Monday, April 17, 2006


[Part one of an ongoing series in which the Melbourne International Comedy Festival is explained through reference to a range of curious and intriguing dreams experienced during my wanderings in the desert]


My good friend Chris Martin (from the popular modern musical act Coldplay) is attempting to tongue kiss a slightly oversized crow on the pitch of the MCG. I'm looking at him as if to say "dude! Please!" and he's all "what?" and I'm like "so gross!" and all the while the randy avian is pecking away at his mouth since it's fallen for his lines about how "Gwynnie just hasn't been there for me since the new kid came along, I mean been there emotionally..." and he's having trouble because the pointy beak isn't exactly conducive to teen-style pashing and I sense a certain second-thoughts-havingness in his attitude now. And I'm thinking at this point that maybe Chris wasn't the best guy to sign on as the new P.E. teacher in the community school that I run for orphaned Native Americans living in Australia, but I stand by my choice on the grounds that pulling the hunky and inoffensive pop-rock star card is always acceptable when justifying poor professional practice before a board of trustees. All this reflecting on our schoolside practices has conjured up images of Takeshi 'Beat' Kitano in Battle Royale, and Chris and I are discussing the stylish matching tracksuit he wears throughout most of that film and wondering whether we could get away with something similar in our own teaching life. Man, says Chris, that was one messed up film, and I say yeah, sure, but it wasn't nearly as shocking as everyone made it out to be, and even provoked some interesting and philosophical interior monologues during my viewing experience. As in: is this simply an expression of the fact that the educational system itself is designed to establish a competitive heirarchy between students, and in fact implicitly encourages bullying, survival-of-the-fittest behaviour and clique-type tribalism, etc? So that the kid who gets his head flushed down the toilet is roughly analogous to the kid who is ritually shamed in class for not doing his homework, even though his rough family life makes a quiet study space all but impossible? But if that's the case, retorts Chris (wiping blood from his pecked and ragged lips), then doesn't basic Marxist theory imply that this system of repression will always lead to a corresponding revolutionary impulse on the part of the students? Exactly, I say, and am about to continue when I am rudely interrupted by a baseball-bat toting Richard Grieco from 21 Jump Street with a bone to pick or an axe to grind or a score to settle or somesuch and I'm suddenly woken-

Anyway, that's the dream, so it's time to introduce our first celebrity dream analyst who'll be explaining the significance of this mental narrative, so let's put our hands together and give a big round of applause to... Dr Phil!

Much obliged, AHFLV, and I gotta say I'm real pleased to take time outta my busy schedule to be here today on your program-

Well, it's not exactly a program-

-and I'm gonna cut right to the chase, cos I'm not the kinda guy to pussyfoot around, I mean I got an internationally syndicated show of my own to run, so let's get down to business and talk some turkey, okay?


Now what we got here is a classic case of Comedy Festival introjection, and if I had a nickel for every time I've heard this exact same dream spelled out for me by some narcissistic loser I'd be upgrading the amenities in my Learjet faster'n you can say 10 points rolling gross for my upcoming biopic "Shooting Straight: Phil up the Tank" based on my somewhat fictionalised tour of duty in Iraq.

Really? I've never heard-

Did I tell you to speak? Do you remember me giving you those orders? No, I don't think so, and you'd better cram a sock in your spit faucet before I kick your sorry ass all the way to Tallahasee (Population: the contents of my butt!). Do you want some dream analysis or not? Cos when it comes to dreaming, that's your mind's way of telling you something important, and if you aint gonna listen then you may as well be shutting down the whole facility right now.

So what I'm hearing from your dream is an underriding theme of disappointment: you got Chris Martin disappointing you with his crow kissing, you got Chris himself disappointed that the kissing aint up to scratch, and you got the fact that all this is going on somewhere where big things should be happening, the MCG itself. Add to this the whole Coldplay angle, a band who can rightly play somewhere like the MCG but never really live up to the hype, and it's clear that your subconscious is playing out a scenario of expectations unfulfilled. No wonder that you wander off into that frankly irrelevant debate over the meaning of a Japanese film, since what the facts of the scenario aren't even interesting enough to hold your attention. And is it any coincidence that it's a crow the man's kissing, since a gathering of crows is called a murder? The paucity of content is murdering the man's artform, and this combination of disappointment, expectations unmet and overinflated hype, along with the concern that the result will murder the medium in question makes it damn sure obvious to me that what your dream is really about is Adam Hills' new show, which is a fine enough way to pass an hour but never starts scoring the goals. I mean, the guy goes on for way too long about an audience member who gave him a carrot, and while in any possible metaphorical sense this would be a ripe subject for a few laughs, it's unfortunately entirely literal. So you have to ask yourself, AHFLV, what's in it for you? I mean, what's really in it for you?

Isn't that your answer for everything?

You can bet your bottom dollar. I'm outta here.

Thanks Dr Phil! You've cleared things up for me!

So I guess the lesson from this dream is that Adam Hills' new show is nice and pleasant but so sweetly inoffensive that I can't even remember the name of the thing. Fans might enjoy it, but like Coldplay, the material and delivery just don't explain why there are so many of these fans to begin with. Let us ponder that, before proceeding to our next dream.

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