|It's blurry, but it counts.
I can't remember who found out that Tony Martin was appearing at the Byron Bay Writers Festival, but it wasn't long before the triumvirate of fanboys - aka Dan, Disco Stu and me - hatched a plan to attend an event entitled "Comedy Night", which would feature Tony Martin among the panellists.
We bid goodbye to Brisbane around 1:30pm yesterday, and headed out into a beautiful golden afternoon. ROAD TRIP!
We made good time, even with a stop for lunch. We hit Byron around 4pm, and made straight for the Lighthouse. We had a pleasant wander round as the sun set behind the hills.
|Obviously a very inspirational sunset.
Then, it suddenly became 7:40pm. The panel began at 8pm, so we made the two minute journey around the corner to the Byron Bay library and community centre, and grabbed seats in the front row, dead centre. It was destiny, I told my co-adventurers.
By this point, I was almost breathless with excitement. I can't really over emphasise how much of an impact Tony Martin's had on my comedic "career", for want of a better term. During high school, I spent so many afternoons locked away in my bedroom, listening to Martin/Molloy. I loved their sketch comedy; I loved Tony's impressions; I adored learning new things by listening to the interesting (and generally funny) guests they'd have one. For example, I first heard of John Birmingham - whose The Tasmanian Babes Fiasco was such a seminal text for me, and whom I'm now proud to call a friend - while listening to him talk about Tassie Babes on Martin/Molloy.
Then of course there was Get This, the brilliant 2006/2007 program still mourned by fans, after its untimely and grossly misjudged axing by Triple M. Of course, Tony Martin has made a film (Bad Eggs), written two books (Lolly Scramble and A Nest of Occasionals), runs a intelligent opinion website and has done a bunch of other stuff, but it's his radio work that is still most dear to me. Subconsciously, it's probably one of the reasons I was drawn to work in the medium: at the very least, his approach to comedy and sketch-writing has always been a guide to me as I attempt my own silly things (particularly here on this website).
So the prospect of seeing Tony Martin, in the flesh, was just thrilling. The reality was even better - the six panellists (including William McInnes, John Doyle and Akmal Saleh) made a low-key entry, and I almost had to restrain myself from whooping with delight. The event was a group discussion about their entry into comedy, and thoughts on the subject, and it was with baited breath that Dan, Stu and I all waited until it was Tony's turn to answer each question. In short: he was gold. I even asked a question near the end of the session - something about balancing the comedic desire to push boundaries within the confines of TV or radio networks that may perhaps want more "safe" material. It may have come out a bit garbled, but Tony seemed to get my gist and did talk about how some stations do try to target "average" viewers/listeners, rather than realise that viewers/listeners respond to people who love what they do, even if they're not into it themselves.
The evening finished with a round of applause, and the audience filed out. I snapped a photo as the panellists posed for the festival photographer.
Dan, Stu and I saw Tony Martin leave through one entrance, and we casually followed. All three of us wanted to meet him, say hello, say something adult and mature and intelligent to this person whom we all adore so much. Just after the exit, there was a slight bottleneck, and we wound up in a bunch of people that included Tony Martin. He looked up, saw Dan and smiled.
"Hi guys, thanks for coming," he said. Dan beamed. I squealed internally. "I'm Dan," said Dan. "I'm Natalie," I said. "Thanks for your question about radio!" he replied. I beamed. I think Stu said hi at that point, then we fell into a chat. I talked a bit about working in radio - how I'd worked for Austereo after Martin/Molloy and before Get This, and how I'd missed him. I can't even remember all we said; but at some point Dan passed over a CD of sketches that he and The Wah have done as part of their Smart Enough podcast, and for Spencer Howson's breakfast show on 612 ABC Brisbane. He graciously received it; and then agreed to pose for a photo with me. We wound up our conversation, and wandered away.
All of us were buzzing. What an encounter! It really couldn't have gone any better. We weren't absolute slobbering fanboys; and Tony Martin was funny, gracious and friendly. Then I realised: I'd been carrying Dan's copy of A Nest of Occasionals in my handbag. We'd forgotten to get it signed. I didn't know whether I should go back and ask - then I thought, stuff it, you only live once. Tony very kindly agreed to sign it; I may have blabbered slightly about how he once wished me a happy birthday after I faxed into Martin/Molloy, but then thanked him again and wished him a good night.
I hurried back to my friends and opened the book:
Thank you, Tony Martin. And thanks to Dan and Disco Stu for our wonderful road trip.