Dear Lovely Ones,
How do you prepare yourself for the passing of a dear friend? How do you, especially when you find out their time is near and you are not able to travel to see them?
I've decided that it's more important to write now about how this person affected my life so he can read this and know what a wonderful person he is and how much we will remember him.
It began when I moved to Melbourne to pursue, amongst other things, stand-up comedy. I already knew about the open mic at The Espy and through that came the info on a place called The Armadale Hotel and a guy called Louis-Robert Stomm who ran the room.
I can't quite remember if first contact was made via phone or just turning up. What I do remember is how welcomed I was and also how quickly I was given the opportunity to tread the boards there on the monday night show.
The particularly interesting aspect of this venue was that the open mic was at the end of the evening and the beginning showcased comics who were being filmed for the regular tv show (Champagne Comedy) on local access station C31. I was pretty much early each time I went which meant that I got to see how it was all produced plus bear witness to many a funny moment: either sporadic or rehearsed.
One of my proudest moments was being a part of a night that was filmed and sent to the troops over in East Timor during the independence time. The late Dave Grant gave it the title of "A Night In The Trenches" and we all clamoured to be a part of this once-in-a-lifetime show.
I don't know how many times I was given a 10 min spot on Champagne Comedy but it was fabulous to be given the opportunity. Lou took a risk on me and, like most comics, I had times of great highs and a few slightly lower. All excellent education that I carry with me today.
Through all this I became friends with the producers of the show: Louis-Robert Stomm and the late Matthew K. Sharp. This friendship lead to many great shows together, including the transfer of Champagne Comedy (show title) to North Melbourne. Perchance I ended up being involved in another show called "The Comic Box" which aired late on Friday nights on C31. In this interview-based show I was cast as the sidekick and had a wonderful time hamming it up, slightly off camera at times.
In 2010 and 2011 I would be invited to bring my comedy character, Loretta Chatalotalittle, as a guest on The Comic Box. C.J. Jenkins was the fabulous host and I do believe that Loretta thought she was the then prime minister, Julia Gillard. I also think these were both NYE shows.
Loretta was "up for anyfink" which meant things like trying to sing a song whilst Annie stuffed my mouth with cheese balls, or referring to C.J as "prime inister" gave me a sense of freedom I've not had since.
Even though I had moved on from standup comedy and into music, our friendship and association continued. Much of our communication in the past few years has been by phone as I now live in another state. At least, Lou, we've been able to have long chats on the hullo phone and I'm grateful for them. I know sometimes you've been really ill, yet I've never felt anything but welcomed each time we've talked.
What I didn't realise until lately was how much all all this has influenced and set me up as an entertainer, a radio presenter and personality, a trailblazer, and very much an individual. Louis-Robert could always get the best out of me and he saw in me a talent that wanted to be nurtured. A true believer when it came to giving someone a chance, Louis-Robert gave me so much more than I will ever be able to repay. Yet, I feel he wouldn't want me to anyway. Lou is a most generous person and I thank him for all his generosity to me.
So Lou, make sure you haunt me and kick me up the butt when I need it. I'm sure you'll find ways to let me know you're around. Please feel free to be Molly's "imaginary friend" when I have to leave her and go to work. Please remember how much I value and love your support and friendship. Your influence has been profoundly positive and I carry the experiences with me each time I'm on stage or doing something creative. Please remember, even though I am sad you are moving on, I'm so glad I have been a small part of your life and your journey. You've been a significant part of mine that I will treasure always.