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Comedians on facing an audience

For a session on Facing an Audience – a dilemma for any up-and-coming musician or author – you’d reckon they’d get in people who’d could stay on topic. Instead, we were left with the witty remarks of Charlie Pickering, Libbi Gorr and Tim Ferguson to aid us in our quest to learn the art of standing before a crowd.

Tim Ferguson is not only a comedian, but a writer and a producer as well, who is currently teaching university students the art of writing comedy. Wonder what the assignments involve? Ferguson has written a manual on comedy The Cheeky Monkey – Writing Narrative Comedy, which caused strife with the other panelists. But, more on that later.

Libbi Gorr is a performer, journalist and comedian all rolled into one. Currently dealing with being a new mum, she has written a guide book for other mothers, A-Z of Mummy Manners: An Etiquette Guide to Dealing with Other Children’s Mothers and Assorted Mummy Dilemmas.

Charlie Pickering is a comedian, co-host of 7pm Project, and a Gen-X team member for Talking ‘Bout Your Generation. He has written a book based on his father’s practical joke war and his friend, titled (ironically) Impractical Jokes.

So you could see how these panelists could lead us away from the topic at hand. But, no one in the crowd minded.

The session started with Libbi Gorr, and the challenges she has faced since becoming a mother. Charlie raised the question: what is harder – being a mother or standing in front of an audience?

“Well,” she replied. “I guess it’s much the same – it’s you against a f**kload of them-and guess who wins.” She raised her hand. “Yeah, that’s right. Me!”

Tim Ferguson was drilled on whether his manual, which classified comedy as either stand-alone gags or narrative gags, restricted the other panelist.

“It’s like this,” he said in defence. “You either have the stand-alone, which can be said straight out, or the narrative, which needs a lead up. Either way you still get a joke.”

Charlie Pickering discussed his work in comedy, and was asked by Libbi whether he thought he lacked hope for the important things in life, even though he was still in Generation Y. Now, for those who watch Talking ‘bout Your Generation, we know this to be false, and he was quick to correct her.

“I’m insulted,” he said accusingly. “That a) you think I’m ignorant enough to be in Gen Y and b) that I have no hope being in Gen X.”

With many jokes and happily received insults thrown through the panel (and a bucket load of jokes that I could never do justice to here today), it was one of the funniest sessions of the Byron Bay Writers’ Festival so far. But with this mix, how could it not be?

Amelia Turner is a Southern Cross University media student

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