Thank gods that fraking Hammo is finally giving up standup.
Justin Hamilton has been doing shows for eighteen years and The Goodbye Guy is his farewell to the standup stage (for the immediate future anyway). I’m thrilled.
OK, so he’s become one of the best around with a stage persona so affable that he can be filthy and he make observations so sharp that it’s best to check for bleeding. He’s one of the few men who can say c*nt and make me want to hug him, he lets me feel cool for loving Dr Who, understands why I fancy David Bowie, and lets me feel OK about having not really grown up and about spending too much time in the TV section of Amazon.
But every time I see one of his shows show, I want him to get off the stage and start writing more. Yesterday I read his blog and said to the screen that I want him to write a book – and a TV series and more theatre shows like his wonderful Goodbye Ruby Tuesday. When he opens this Goodbye saying that he wanted to be an author since he was seven but became comedian … well maybe my fantasy about Hamilton the writer isn’t so selfish.
You can’t not love the gorgeous laughing comedy audiences, but I want Justin to reach the millions of people who are going to love his writing. Stand up has given him a remarkable understanding of story and character and he knows that you reach hearts by making people laugh, but it’s almost impossible to write a lot when you spend most nights making people laugh.
Which takes me back to the The Goodbye Guy. This is a show about grief: heart-breaking, unfair, f*ck-you-life grief. And it’s damn funny.
Great comedy isn’t jokes. Pull a Xmas cracker if all you want is a joke. Finding laughs is what gets us through the dullness or unexpected hell of life. Comedy lightens the load and gives us the breathing space to cope. The best cancer jokes are from people who know they are going to die from it.
This is very personal piece about loss, but it’s never self-indugent and his writing lets us find the moments when we know exactly how he feels because we’ve been there too – even if we haven’t actually woken up in black face.
He talks about being comfortable in misery. It is so easy to do something we’re good at and enjoy rather than take the terrifying leap to see if there’s something we’re meant to do. Justin Hamilton is exceptionally good at stand up and he loves what he does, but I’m certain that his best work is in front of him.
In the meantime, you’ve been well and truly warned. This may be your last chance to see a Hammo stand up show. Don’t risk waiting for a comeback. The Goodbye Guy is a perfect coda to his standup career and an introduction to his writing that’s going to leave you wanting more.
PS: For a more smutty night and awesome special guests, Justin and Adam Richard host The Shelf on Monday nights at the Toff during the festival.
PPS: And there’s his podcast
More of Anne-Marie’s writing is at sometimesmelbourne.blogspot.com