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Why Do I Comedy?

Comedy Meme-3The Melbourne International Comedy Festival is now in full swing, and as a comedian, the most common question I’m asked is, ‘How do you do it?’

Basically people want to know how I manage to overcome all that fear, and stand on stage in front of a group of strangers, then attempt to make them laugh.

Alcohol. Well that’s how I started.

Now it’s practice. Like anything really, do it enough, and make sure you do at least a little practice and preparation, and you start to know what you’re doing.

A quick tip for anyone complimenting a comedian – after a show don’t tell them how brave you think they are just for getting up onstage.

That’s the equivalent of telling a fat kid he might have come last in the 100m sprint, but good on him for having a go.

That someone’s homemade cupcakes might be inedible, but they still look sort of cupcake like.

It’s the equivalent of telling someone you don’t want to date them anymore, but you’re sure someone else one day will be interested.

All of these things have of course happened to me.

If you want to compliment a comedian, tell them that they’re funny, or nothing at all.

The next most common question is, ‘Why do you do it? I can’t think of anything worse.’Comedy Meme-2

Well if you can’t think of anything worse than attempting to bring joy to a bunch of strangers who are prepared to pay you money for the privilege, you’re really not trying.

Being forced to swallow the aforementioned cupcake. That’s worse.

Being squashed next to someone smelly on a crowded tram. That’s worse.

Being bitten by a strange dog then having to get stitches and a vaccination. That’s far worse.

All these things have also happened to me. This week.

Then often comes the follow up question, ‘Seriously though, why do you do it?’

There isn’t just one answer, and I reckon every comedian has different reasons.

Firstly, having a room full of people laughing at some original thing that you thought up, wrote down and then said is a huge rush.

Secondly, there is huge hole in most comedians that can only be filled with the adoration of strangers. If a whole bunch of people pay to spend an hour with you, then you must be worth something to someone right?

This need usually has its basis in being relentlessly teased in high school or primary school. Then shutting yourself in your room, and spending hours crafting the perfect comeback. Your first comedy set. Which if ever tried in public, always fails but for some reason we keep at it.

Thirdly, here’s the main reason I’m a comedian.

I do it because I think every single human being is capable of wonderful things, and

I don’t think anyone is stupid. I just think that a lot of us, myself included, don’t know enough and if we were more thoughtful, looked deeper into issues and knew more, we could as a society be making better decisions and live in a far better world.

With every piece of writing that I do, and most jokes that I perform, I try to inform. Prior to comedy, I tried doing this in a few different ways that weren’t that funny, and nobody seemed that bothered.

Once I added jokes, people started listening. If someone laughs at something you’ve said, it’s very likely that they’ll listen to the next thing you say and consider it, even if they don’t necessarily agree.

That said, I still adhere to one simple comedy rule. Not every joke has to be meaningful, but it does have to be funny.

Otherwise, you’re not a comedian, you’re just annoying.

Also to be a comedian, you need an audience. Otherwise you’re just a crazy guy shouting at an overflowing bin. Which I’ve also done in the past week. While dressed as a penguin.

Lastly, thanks to all the people who’ve seen a show so far during the comedy festival. Please, go and see some more. To those that haven’t, give it a go.

There are many far worse things to do with your night than pay a little for the possibility of a big laugh. During every day, every one of us does a fair few of them. So why not reward yourself with some comedy? Speaking on behalf of every comedian, we could really do with the cash.

 

Xavier Toby is a writer and comedian.

Catch him at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival from March 27 to April 20.

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2014/season/shows/mining-my-own-business-xavier-toby

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2014/season/shows/2014-when-we-were-idiots-a-comedy-walking-tour-hosted-by-xavier-toby

His first book ‘Mining My Own Business’ about life on a FIFO mining site is available now.

http://uwap.uwa.edu.au/books-and-authors/book/mining-my-own-business/

Comedy1-Meme

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Shopping. I cannot think of a bigger waste of time.

Shopping FWIW - MemeShopping. I just don’t get it. Honestly, I cannot think of a bigger waste of time.

Watching the grass grow or the paint dry, at least you’re outside and contemplating things.

Such as why café coffee always tastes better than home coffee, why it is that home improvements on television take a fraction of the time they do in real life, and how much better football season is than not football season.

Seriously though, anyone who just ‘goes shopping’ for the sake of it. Why?

Whenever I shop it’s with a purpose. I identify a need, then go out and search until I fulfil that need.

The longer it takes, the more frustrated I become.

Imagine if ‘The Hulk’ had no special abilities, but shopping was his magical flick from reasonable to angry. That’s me in a shopping centre. Purple underpants, shirtless and very angry. Often then quickly asked by security to leave.

If the first shop I walk into has what I want, I buy it. What I certainly don’t do is keep looking under the mistaken impression that I’ll find a more suitable version at a different store.

I might take a bit of time to do a price comparison. Three stores within easy walking distance at a maximum, and then pick the cheapest. Or I might just check on the internet, like an intelligent person.

What I will never do is go shopping without a need to fulfil and an end product in mind.

That’s like following the football, and not supporting a particular team. Pick a team. Nobody trusts a person who follows football and doesn’t have a team.

It’s like hanging out in bars, but never having a drink.

It’s like going to a shop with over two hundred flavours of ice cream, just because you like the idea of all that choice, but have no actual desire for ice-cream.

You go into an ice-cream shop because you want ice cream. Not because you like the idea of ice cream. If you’re lactose intolerant, eat gelato.

So the point of going shopping is to buy something.

If you don’t buy anything, then you’re just browsing.

It’s like going to a nightclub if you don’t want to meet anyone. Which is apparently a viable and respectable option, but have you been to a nightclub lately? They’re rubbish, so why bother unless you’re trying to fill that massive void inside yourself with another person?

Maybe the people at nightclubs who aren’t looking to meet anyone, are the same people who go shopping not to buy anything.

Just standing there, staring and sometimes drooling. Both are just a different type of pervert.

What we need are nightclubs and shops that cater to these sorts of people. A corridor that’s all just windows and mannequins, with a suitable boring soundtrack.

Which would then keep these people out of my way, so I can find a park and get in and out as quickly as possible.

A strategy that applies equally to both shopping centres and nightclubs.

Maybe I just don’t get it. Possibly shopping for stuff you don’t know you want yet is the most rewarding experience of all time.

However, I very strongly doubt it.

For Xmas, everyone who gets a present from me gets a book for two reasons.

One – because people should read more.

Two – I only have to go into one shop.

Notice how I haven’t made this into a men versus women argument? Because it’s not. I know plenty of men that adore shopping. The weirdoes.

Also, I know plenty of women who can’t stand shopping without a purpose. The champions.

Really, it’s not a battle between the sexes at all. It’s a battle between people who have better things to do, and those who have nothing better to do.

Xavier Toby is a writer and comedian.

Catch him at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival from March 27 to April 20.

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2014/season/shows/mining-my-own-business-xavier-toby

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2014/season/shows/2014-when-we-were-idiots-a-comedy-walking-tour-hosted-by-xavier-toby

His first book ‘Mining My Own Business’ about life on a FIFO mining site is available now.

http://uwap.uwa.edu.au/books-and-authors/book/mining-my-own-business/

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Fashion Victims and Australia’s first H&M Store

fashion-fashion_o_675052So, the first H&M store has just opened in Australia. In Melbourne of course, as Melbourne hits that magical sweet spot between up itself enough to prioritise fashion over everything but football, and cold enough that people need clothes all year round.

A stylish person in Sydney would only need half the wardrobe, and in Queensland and Western Australia, style counts as having a decent range of swimwear, singlets and thongs.

So what does H&M stand for? Not ‘Her Majesty’s’ or ‘heroes & marvels’ although I wish it did. It’s Hennes & Mauritz, and is a Swedish company.

Combine that with Australia’s hunger for anything that’s popular overseas, and H&M stores will soon likely be dotting Australia like the Starbucks of old.

So will I ever shop there? Probably. The clothes are decent and reasonably priced.

I’m certainly not suggesting that you don’t shop there for ethical reasons. If we all only did what was ethical, then everyone in Australia would be wearing skirts made from grass grown in our own backyards, eating only that same grass, and growing it using fertiliser we’ve created ourselves. Since every lawn is a massive waste of resources, and should be put to good use before using anything else.

One of my favourite check shirts came from H&M and I wore it for years. Until it finally tore apart while attempting a particularly daring during a drunken dance move for a girl’s benefit. She was so impressed that she left – without me. Then I was forced to leave, as apparently a torn check shirt isn’t appropriate attire for an invite-only party at a cocktail bar. Either is dancing on the bar. And not having an invite. The prudes.

As far as clothes go, I don’t have a problem with H&M, and as they are the second biggest global clothing retailer on the planet, neither does the rest of the world.

What I don’t like, or understand, is lining up for stuff.

People were queuing for hours for the privilege of being the first in there for stuff you can just waltz in and get a few days later. Stuff readily available in thousands of other stores before the store even opened.

(Also in Melbourne this week, people were lining up to be the first at a new McDonald’s store. I don’t even know how to begin explaining that one.)

H&M are also popular because of this thing called ‘fast fashion’. Which is a fancy way of saying they’ve always got new stuff replacing the old stuff, so there’s always new stuff for people to buy.Fashion Meme_2

Zara do the same thing. So instead of four seasons for fashion, there’s now about forty.

In order to keep up with the latest trends, you either need a wardrobe that extends over several levels of your mansion. Or to be making regular stops at the charity bins.

One offshoot of this whole fast fashion thing is better clothes being available at the second-hand stores, where I do the bulk of my clothes buying.

I don’t understand anyone who likes shopping. For me it’s purely functional. I need a new shirt, so I buy one. I’ve been wearing the same style of jeans for years and a hot girl once told me I looked good in check shirts. It’s a combo that works so that’s fashion – tick.

Three other reasons I am thoroughly perplexed by anyone who’s continually clamouring to be clad in the latest fashions.

1. It’s exhausting, time consuming and incredibly expensive.

2. If it looks good on a model or in a magazine doesn’t mean it looks good on you. How many times have you seen someone in what’s supposed to be the latest, and snickered to yourself? People struggling to be the most stylish always look the most ridiculous.

Fashion Meme_3

3. Unless you look ridiculous, nobody cares. You might be well aware of how hot-off-the-shelves your latest sweater is, but you’re the only one. We’re all so busy looking at ourselves, preening and checking our reflection in anything that reflects, that unless you look truly freakish, nobody gives you a glance.

Listen closely to any fashionista interviewed about the season’s new styles, and they’ll often squeeze in, between their tired treatise on what’s in and why, a statement very similar to this, ‘What never goes out of fashion is what looks good on you.’

Indicating to me, that with my jeans-and-check-shirt combination, I’ve won fashion.

Not that it matters. Remember, nobody’s as obsessed with you, as you and nobody’s watching.

Xavier Toby is a writer and comedian.

Catch him at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival from March 27 to April 20.

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2014/season/shows/mining-my-own-business-xavier-toby

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2014/season/shows/2014-when-we-were-idiots-a-comedy-walking-tour-hosted-by-xavier-toby

His first book ‘Mining My Own Business’ about life on a FIFO mining site is available now.

http://uwap.uwa.edu.au/books-and-authors/book/mining-my-own-business/

0

Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 – Why Do We Care So Much?

MH370 MemeNobody might ever find one scrap of missing Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370.

It’s not just looking for a needle in a haystack. Considering the size of the ocean, and the amount of other rubbish floating around, it’s like looking for a needle in haystack that’s full of needles, and the haystack is the size of Australia.

Also, how long does debris float for before it sinks? I have no idea. I suppose it depends on the debris.

Nobody’s giving up the search anytime soon, however, and as long as we keep consuming the news reports about it, the reports about it will keep coming, forcing the search to continue.

Much like the Madeleine McCann or Princess Diana tragedies, the investigations will continue although there’s no new real information, but because people still care enough to buy things with this story on the front page.

In twenty years there’s likely to be some poor bloke in a fishing boat with a pole and a pair of binoculars still sifting through the ocean for that elusive black box.

I’m just waiting for the conspiracy theories to again gather momentum.

Early on they were bouncing around, as anyone with an opinion was able to get it published, in order to supply a hungry public with more theories on what might have happened, with very few bothering to ask how likely it was that any of it was true.

In a bar the other night… I don’t want to be specific because as a comedian, I’m in a bar nearly every night… The consensus among the group seemed to be that flight MH370 would be found in some terrorist friendly country, with everyone on board alive but a little hungry.

I wish everyone on that plane was still alive, but I doubt it. As I base my opinions not on hope, but on the best information available. Except when it comes to football, which is the only way to explain why I barrack for North Melbourne in the AFL, and the Wests Tigers in the NRL.

To find out the best information on any subject, don’t look at what’s most popular, exciting or sensational. Life is not a movie, and although what’s most likely isn’t as exciting as what you can make up in a bar over a few beers, it doesn’t mean it’s any less likely and current expert opinion seems to indicate a horrible accident, after a series of midair mishaps.

Still, why do we care so much? Every day there are disasters around the world where more people perish.

However, every hour we’re updated on the possible fate of flight MH370. Although it’s been missing since March 8, 2014 and the amount of new factual information that has become known has totalled zero since around March 9, 2014.

We care so much because it could’ve been easily been anyone who’s ever flown anywhere on that plane.

Then if nobody can explain what happened or why it happened, what’s to stop it happening again?

What we’ve glimpsed with this issue is the fragility of human life, and the random and meaningless way the most precious thing any of us have can be snatched from us in an instant.

Alain de Botton was recently in Australia, and on this issue he’s said far more, and all more eloquently and more intelligently than me.

He says, “a news addiction age” prompts people to crave regular updates at the expense of quiet contemplation.

So after reading each new article about the new nothing that’s now known about Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, stop and think why you care so much.

Finding out what caused this disaster won’t help you deal with it. Instead, contemplate why you care so much, and you’ll glimpse the real issues behind this disaster.

So while I’m still a writer and comedian, this has been a lot more thoughtful than funny. However while not every tragedy can be explained, it’s also true that not everything’s worth joking about.

 

Xavier Toby is a writer and comedian.

Catch him at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival from March 27 to April 20.

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2014/season/shows/mining-my-own-business-xavier-toby

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2014/season/shows/2014-when-we-were-idiots-a-comedy-walking-tour-hosted-by-xavier-toby

His first book ‘Mining My Own Business’ about life on a FIFO mining site is available now.

http://uwap.uwa.edu.au/books-and-authors/book/mining-my-own-business/

 

1

Too many stupid questions and so many stupid people. Parliamentary question time needs to change.

Parliament Question Time

Labor MP Warren Snowdon picking a winner during question time.

Parliamentary question time really needs to change.

I mean, it’s called ‘question time’ for a reason. Someone should at least pretend to answer a question.

Instead, last week in Federal Parliament, Labor MPs moved a motion of no confidence in Speaker Bronwyn Bishop, accusing her of bias and incompetence.

Which I think is completely unfair, because bias and incompetence is something that every single excuse for a politician involved in that farce called question time is equally guilty of.

I know the speaker is supposed to be impartial, and she clearly isn’t, but Parliamentary Question time sits atop a structure built of so many stupidities that it makes a house of cards look both earthquake and tsunami proof.

The motion of no confidence in Bronwyn never had any hope of passing. The Labor politicians don’t have the votes to pass anything, and even suggesting it was just another poor stunt among the many that has come to comprise Question Time.

According to people who were around back before television, apparently there was a golden time in Australian politics when politicians actually answered the questions they were asked.

Instead of this current complete car wreck, which runs like the worst scripted play in all of history, but is allowed to continue despite nobody asking for more.

Have you tried watching parliamentary question time lately?

Give it a go. It’s horrendous.

One of two things always happens. A politician will ask a politician from their same party to talk about something they’ve done.

So the politician who’s been asked will stand up and read a pre-prepared speech detailing why they’re amazing.

Option two involves an opposition politician asking a question. Which will then be answered with a whole lot of accusations and questions that are nothing to do with the original question.

In the background at all times are garbled insults and other rubbish.

The only discernable purpose of the whole thing seems to be to provide a spiteful grab for the nightly news.

A clever quip, the big, bold statement or the harsh critique that makes it onto our small screens in primetime.

Really though, it’s a rabble of apparent professionals in designer clothes, behaving like they’re wearing tracksuits and are all under eight years old.

The behaviour these humans exhibit would not be tolerated in a classroom, a meeting or even in the crowd at a football match.

Instead of this awful excuse for attention grabbing that plays out like some atrocious talent show, where competitors vie for the title of blackest soul, I have an alternate suggestion idea.

Why not force the politicians to actually answer every question?

This would be easily achieved by instigating proper penalties for anyone who veers off topic, refuses to answer the question, launches person attacks or shouts indecipherable insults.

Banishing them from the chamber doesn’t work. It’s the same as sending a worker off early for their holiday break.

Instead, let’s start docking their pay.

Next, pick a speaker who’s not even a politician but a trained arbitrator skilled in keeping debate on track.

Once we start hitting them where it hurts, and have someone who knows what they’re doing running things, let’s see how much longer the stupidity lasts.

Until then, I’m not asking any more questions. I’m stating it for the record. Parliamentary Question time is completely and utterly pointless.

 

Xavier Toby is a writer and comedian.

Catch him at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival from March 27 to April 20.

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2014/season/shows/mining-my-own-business-xavier-toby

http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2014/season/shows/2014-when-we-were-idiots-a-comedy-walking-tour-hosted-by-xavier-toby

His first book ‘Mining My Own Business’ about life on a FIFO mining site is available now.

http://uwap.uwa.edu.au/books-and-authors/book/mining-my-own-business/