When a Night of Local Travel Digresses to a Comedy of Errors

So, I entered a competition earlier in the week and I won two tickets to the Melbourne Comedy International Festival. In particular, I won a double pass to Australia’s own – Michael Workman – for last night. A welcomed win, indeed!

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I’ve been to the festival in years past and a good time always ensues. Planning such a night is usually a no brainer, too. I pack the tickets in my bag, rustle up my husband to grab a bite to eat from somewhere local then drive into the city to sit in on a great comedic time. However, yesterday’s effort proved to be just that – an absolute, mind-numbing, frustrating effort. Don’t get me wrong, Michael Workman’s performance was clever and funny. It’s just the rest of the day was a series of things going wrong which I’d rather refer to as a comedy of errors.

It all started when I walked to my local organic food store to buy some easy-to-eat items for the journey into Melbourne’s CBD. I arrived early, to beat the lunch crowd, only to discover a next to empty café cabinet. The shop assistant told me that the local chef who supplies the vegan and gluten free goodies headed off on holidays. “Damn!” I thought. “What a shame”. Still, the shop assistant sold me a frozen vegan and gluten-free gado gado pie for my lunch today. I wandered home, thinking about a Plan B – I’d head to Wholefood Merchants in Ferntree Gully for supplies instead (they have yummy salads, by the way). The plan was to head out later in the afternoon once I completed my work for the day. Once I did head out, the traffic was ridiculous. What normally takes me about 15 minutes took me over half an hour in driving. I think of myself as a fairly mellow and patient traveller though I could sense some frustration setting in.

When I did arrive at Wholefood Merchants, I noticed that the salad choices were next to none. I headed over to the fridges to grab a couple of pre-packed salads for my husband (no gluten-free choices there for me) then headed back to the café for some dessert. Salads then magically appeared so I grabbed a serve of potato salad, a slice of ‘impossible’ quiche – a vegan, gluten-free and soy-free quiche to share, along with two bricks of raw chocolate coconut slice. I raced back to the car and headed home, in peak-hour traffic yet again. At home, I raced to get ready and picked my husband up from work. Then we ventured off to Blackburn train station so we could catch the train into the city, while having the time to unwind and eat our pre-packed dinner. Or, so we thought.

There was a massive football crowd descending onto the footpath near Blackburn station and it occurred to us that they were waiting for replacement buses. Apparently some trees fell onto the tracks, immobilising the service for everyone in the process. We changed plans, trudged back to the car and drove to the city in more peak hour traffic. We eventually found a car-spot in a multilevel carpark on Lonsdale Street, only a five-minute walk to Chinatown for Michael Workman. Yet, after all the CBD driving we became disorientated. Where did we have to walk to? My husband powered up his phone for navigation and its compass just couldn’t calibrate easily. Eventually, we found our direction and made our way up the steps of Melbourne’s Chinese Museum in Cohen Place for the show.

Ironically, Michael Workman has a tattoo of an aeroplane and its evacuation points on his arm. The day’s impetus (or lack therefor) could’ve easily pushed me to a direction of jumping for an exit and head for home in a flurry of frustration and tiredness. Though, we were led to this path by something positive – winning a competition. Michael Workman’s jaded style was an ever-so subtle meander along a path to the end, or the punchline, and these punchlines aren’t always obvious; the clever mark of a seasoned comedian.            

Looking back today, I have no options but to laugh, just like I did at key moments during Michael Workman’s set. I also arrived at a level of appreciation: appreciative of winning the competition, having the money to be able to buy food and a fully operational car to get us to the show.   

Just like that quiche, what feels impossible is possible and just like the name of Michael Workman’s show, nothing you do means anything. And, this is where the comedy of errors ends. No matter how frustrating, travel can teach us in some way or another. We need to let go of the frustrations and we need to think of the comedy in the experience, not the comedy of errors that lead us to our frustrations. Take a deep break, with a belly full of laughter and set forth anyway. If we didn’t go, then this story would not have meant anything, then, would it?   

The Melbourne International Comedy Festival is running from now until April 23 at various locations around Melbourne’s CBD and inner city suburbs. For full details, you can visit the official website.