Today there was a 24 Hour Comedy Gig as part of USyd’s Verge Festival.
We had one goal for 5-6 am: to call no. 1 Australian broadcaster Alan Jones and, from a relatively normal conversation base, immediately accuse Julia Gillard and the Labor Party of being literal robots. Not out of touch or emotionless politician robots: the most literal robots imaginable. Asimov robots, Lost In Space robots, hologram-projectin’, human-killin’, girder-bendin’ robots.
We started calling in as soon as we thought Alan’s lines opened: 5:30 a.m. Ciaran chose to go in au naturale as “Ciaran from Newtown”, while I chose to go in as “Alan from Parramatta”, guessing that two Newtown callers would get us pulled up. Ciaran’s cover was sounding halting, awkward and British, mine was that I wanted to talk to Alan and tell him he was the best and a true-blue mate. After hundreds of failed calls and constant redialling from our fucking incredible audience, we got on the air and you can listen to the in-gig recording here on SoundCloud:
So then shit gets weird.
We were stoked. We’d set ourselves a stupid, petty goal, to do a dumb thing on a nationally broadcast radio program, and we’d done it. Ciaran had accused the Prime Minster of having “cold, metal features”, “a nuclear reactor for a heart” and I’d gotten to call the Labor Party “steely-faced ambassadors from another planet”, and we were interested to see that Alan Jones had not called us up on, y’know, identifying the Prime Minister of Australia as an emotionless automaton in the most literal way we could in our limited time.
A few minutes later we get a call back from the station. I answer the phone. A man testily asks me if I’m Tom Walker or Ciaran Magee, I say yes, I’m Ciaran Magee (because hey why not lie about this, I’m happy to be Ciaran).
The man on the other end of the phone asks me “how’s your brother Damien?”
I remember Ciaran’s brother Damien, who I met once. He’s interested in films and seems nice. I answer “Um, he’s good-” before politeness takes over and I add in “-and how are you?”
The man is also good. He just wants to let us know that even though he knows our “little comedy show” must be boring at 5 a.m. (he was wrong, it got boring around 8:30 a.m. around breakfast then picked back up), the staff over at 2GB had pegged us as “dribblers” from the moment we called, and we weren’t impressing anyone.
He told us to call Triple J, “they’ll put you on”, but not to bother 2GB again because, again, we were “dribblers”.
I’ve never been so genuinely baffled in my life.
“How’s your brother Damien?” was thrown down with an “Ah-ha!” snap of the wrist, like it was the fourth ace at a poker table. It had a distinct “I’ve seen The Godfather” subtext to it. It was supposed to intimidate us by showing us that 2GB know things about you. What it actually showed was that 2GB can use Google and Facebook and Twitter to try and threateningly identify people your immediate relatives rather than just asking you to please not be a dick on their radio shows again thank you.
“How’s your brother Damien?”
Who wouldn’t want to put the terrors into an uppity young comedian who had the gall to try and do a weird, in-jokey crank call to Alan Jones? For an attempt at being menacing or authoritative this was so terribly executed that for a second I took it as a genuine expression of interest. It wasn’t, of course, it was a man trying to prove that he had eyes and ears everywhere, including in the basic instructions of a google search or phone book. As an intimidation technique it would be standard if it weren’t so incredibly poorly performed; as it was, it was the equivalent of a gun unfurling a wilting BANG! flag.
Damien works in media, see. This is a threat against a man’s career because his brother, without that man’s knowledge at all, did a stupid prank against a radio show at just after 5:30 a.m. because after all tainted blood will out.
2GB, if you knew we were “dribblers” from the start, good on you. That’s your prerogative to not let us on your show to be dicks. It certainly seems like you didn’t know that, though, and you tried to compensate for it by intimidating us after the fact.
WITH THE HEARTLESS INTENSITY OF A ROBOT