The Raw Comedy Preliminary Final
Comedy festival is on the horizon and a bunch of Raw comedy hopefuls have already been through the heats. It's time to run preliminaries and weed out the best for the state final, before we send off our VIC contestants to nationals to kick Adelaide's ass. For all you non-ball-sports fans out there, something we can get passionate about.
Adam Rozenbachs is MC for the night, reliving his own 1999 Raw comedy experience, where he performed his third gig ever. "I made that heat and then made the state finals but didn't make the nationals. I would say I was robbed," he says. We can all see that now.
It's a fickle thing, Raw: you need to be the best on the night, appeal to the audience, and the judges, and let's be honest, bring along a big bunch of your mates if at all possible. Rozenbachs has been MCing Raw gigs for the past four years or so. His aim is, "Just making it as comfortable an environment as it can be," he says. "I remember when I did it, it's horrifying and you put so much pressure on it, because you're in a competition and you kind of think this could be for your career."
While stand up is a great door to many careers in Australia, many comedians who want to do stand up solely head overseas. Rozenbachs has made a career doing writing for TV alongside his stand up. His Melbourne International Comedy Festival show, Singledumber (smash hit sequel to 2009 MICF show, Singledumb) is coming up, but he'll be fitting it in around writing gigs. "I guess for me it was always that I'd kind of wanted to do stand up but TV writing was always a big thing. I guess as a stand up - it's really tough to make it as a stand alone stand up in this country and prettymuch the people who can make it as a stand up aren't doing a lot of stand up - you know the people like Dave Hughes or Wil Anderson or Adam Hills - people who have good TV or radio gigs are people who can do stand up solely but they're doing so many other things. There's not that many people in Australia who are doing huge concert touring who don't do a lot of tellie probably Jimeoin and Carl Barron are two of Australia's biggest ones. Most of the other people once they get to a point, they're doing radio and television so it becomes that stand up is the sidebar."
The winner of Raw Comedy will be heading off to Edinburgh Festival so they can check out the international scene first hand. No doubt they'll be running into plenty of Australian comedians along the way. It's a great prize, and every year in the heats, there's a keen contestant who hungry for the win, 'borrows' jokes from an international comedian. They're often funny, but it's not the name of the game. "That has happened," says Rozenbachs. "The judges are pretty aware of it - they're pretty comedy savvy, you just kind of go that's not their's, good on them for getting up, but you know it's a bit of a waste of time."
For the most part though, the competition motivates new talent to give it a go. Much as he might prefer that talent not be competing for his job in the future, Rozenbachs says he thinks Raw does help the industry. "I think it did beause it's a competition and I guess it's the main competition that everyone knows about now, it's really broadened stand up in Australia. People are very aware of it, it's got a high profile now it's on triple j and people who hadn't thought of a career in stand up are now very aware of it. It just gives people an opportunity to not have to put that much pressure on themselves in going down to a night and having to prove themselves. They just go into Raw and if they're no good they go, 'oh well, I tried it'. Whereas you know ten - twelve years ago you'd probably have to make your way up through the ranks to get spots whereas this makes it just a bit more accessible and it's a lot more fun.
The Raw Comedy Preliminary Final happened at The Evelyn Hotel on Tuesday February 15 but will also happen on Tuesday February 22, as well as March 1 and 8. All rounds start at 7.30pm and more info is at rawcomedy.com.au. Bring heaps of friends, drink a bit and laugh a lot!