Xavier Toby : ‘Mining’ My Own Business

By Noel Kelso

Last year comedian Xavier Toby managed to get himself into quite a bit of debt. So much so that he decided to leave behind his career as a stand-up comic to take a position working for a mine where he could earn a lot of money in a very short space of time and get his finances out of the red.

His show – Mining My Own Business – is the resulting story and does for the mining industry what Kitchen Confidential did for the image of working in the restaurant industry, and the results are not necessarily flattering.

Arriving on stage in a truly hideous Hawaiian shirt, Toby begins his tale by telling the audience the reasons for his decision – the moment he realised just how much debt he was in, the uncomfortable discussion with his uncle when he tried to get a job and the tiny plane containing massive blokes which greeted him on his first day.

Despite his degree in Engineering, Toby is given a position working in admin and this immediately picks him out as an outsider amongst the other, supposedly more manly, mine workers. The Hawaiian shirt is explained within the first few minutes and leads into a running gag about Xavier’s nickname on site. No – that’s not complimentary either.

There follows fifty enlightening minutes of funny, shocking and brutally honest tales of life on a mining site, aided with illustrative photos projected on a screen. Toby explains to the audience how swearing gets used as a form of punctuation by the miners and how they have to hastily modify this in deference to the supposedly more delicate sensibilities of the few ladies on the site when talking to them. He questions the effectiveness of the unwieldy and tedious system of health and safety which it was his job to help administer and how most guys on the site had found ways to ignore or dismiss. His description of the long and involved process for testing a manhole cover is gripping and ultimately baffling.

The audience were kept laughing for a full 50 minutes as Toby related his tales of life on a mining site with the practised delivery and confidence of an experienced performer, even dealing with a particularly rude member of the audience who had decided to make a phone call halfway through.

This is a witty, insightful and intelligent show offering a window into the inner workings of an industry which is usually kept behind closed doors.

‘Mining’ My Own Business is on at the Portland Hotel – Portland Room until April 20

Shows at the 2014 Melbourne International Comedy Festival previously reviewed by Squirrel Comedy

By Colin Flaherty

It’s not long until the 2014 Melbourne International Comedy Festival gets into full swing. To assist you in navigating the colossal program, here are 26 shows that we have reviewed in other festivals. Keep in mind that all shows will have undergone a fair bit of spit and polish since we last saw them.

2014 – When We Were Idiots: A Comedy Walking Tour Hosted by Xavier Toby
Burke & Wills Statue, City Square
https://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=4924 (Melbourne Fringe 2013)

Alexis Simmonds 0-9 Tales of a Straight, Single Cat Lady
Comedy On Collins
https://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=3406 (MICF 2013)

Andy Matthews – String Theory
ACMI – Games Room
https://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=5133 (Melbourne Fringe 2013)

The Boy With Tape on His Face – More Tape
Forum Theatre – Upstairs
https://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=5466 (Adelaide Fringe 2014)

Cam Knight – 100 Percenter
The Upstairs Lounge @ Hairy Little Sista
https://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=5443 (Adelaide Fringe 2014)

CJ Delling – Reality Bandit
The Bull and Bear Tavern
https://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=5448 (Adelaide Fringe 2014)

FanFiction Comedy
Melb Town Hall – Cloak Room
https://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=4332 (Edinburgh Fringe 2013) & https://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=3380 (MICF 2013)

Impromptunes: The Completely Improvised Musical
Trades Hall – The Annexe
https://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=5083 (Melbourne Fringe 2013)

The Improv Conspiracy : A Night in Chicago
The Croft Institute
https://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=4865 (Melbourne Fringe 2013)

Marek Platek : Wormhole
The Provincial Hotel
https://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=5009 (Melbourne Fringe 2013)

Juliette Burton – When I Grow Up
Trades Hall – The Meeting Room
https://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=4284 (Edinburgh Fringe 2013)

Late Night Letters and Numbers
Melb Town Hall – Powder Room
https://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=3846 (MICF 2013)

The Little Dum Dum Club Live Podcasts!
https://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=3469 Five Boroughs
(MICF 2013)

Marcel Lucont : Gallic Symbol
The Tuxedo Cat
https://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=2701 (Adelaide Fringe 2013)

Nellie White is The Shitty Carer
Imperial Hotel
https://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=5093 (Melbourne Fringe 2013)

Political Asylum Late Night Riot!
Melb Town Hall – Supper Room
https://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=3785 (MICF 2013)

Pop Mashup : Happy Birthday Doctor
The Butterfly Club
https://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=5101 (Melbourne Fringe 2013)

Radio Variety Hour
Comedy On Collins
https://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=5089 (Melbourne Fringe 2013)

Rhys Nicholson – Eurgh
Portland Hotel – Gold Room
https://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=5424 (Adelaide Fringe 2014)

Sam Allen & Chris Harrigan Inside the Egg: The Life of Anne Geddes’ Prisoner Children
ACMI – Games Room
https://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=4842 (Melbourne Fringe 2013)

Set List
Melb Town Hall – Lower Town Hall & Victoria Hotel – Vic’s Bar
ttp://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=3748 (MICF 2013)

Simon Taylor : Funny
Imperial Hotel
https://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=5024 (Melbourne Fringe 2013)

Sitcom Theme Song Singalong and Trivia
The Provincial Hotel & Imperial Hotel
https://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=4930 (Melbourne Fringe 2013)

Stephen Hall : Raiders of the Temple of Doom’s Last Crusade
Comedy On Collins
https://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=4983 (Melbourne Fringe 2013)

Wizard Sandwiches : The Last Lunch
Trades Hall – The Music Room
https://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=5004 (Melbourne Fringe 2013)

Wolf Creek : The Musical
Trades Hall – Old Council Chambers
https://www.squirrelcomedy.com/?p=5049 (Melbourne Fringe 2013)

Xavier Toby – 2013: When we were idiots

By Elyce Phillips 

The year is 2113 and we are living in an environmentally-sustainable socially-harmonious utopia. You are a member of a tourist group exploring North Melbourne circa 2013, wondering how they got it all so wrong. That is the premise of Xavier Toby’s novel comedic walking tour ‘2013: When we were idiots’ – a refreshing, bizarre and often fascinating look at the Fringe’s home town.

Meeting in the foyer of the Fringe Hub, hi-vis vests are doled out to attendees and you are instructed to follow the penguin (Toby) outside. After hearing a quick safety chat and being informed that everyone on the streets around you is an actor, you set off for some learning.

Toby deftly weaves fact and “fact” as the group trundles about the streets of North Melbourne. You hear about the old Benevolent Asylum, Scrap metal merchant Old Ma Dalley and the history of the Hotham Football Club, but are also reminded of things like how we use waterslides as public transport in 2113.

There’s a strong social message throughout the show. Toby underscores the problems of 2013 with tales of how we are doing it right in 2113. In his utopia we’re working less, creating more and are generally a more caring lot. But for all its moral aspirations, the show never feels preachy. After all, we’re from 2113 and all these wonderful changes have already occurred, so there’s no need to harp on about it. Everyone’s already on-board.

Micah Higbed is glorious as a series of historical special guests, ripped from their own times and sporting some questionable costumes. His “mystical” psychic, whose name seemed to be some sort of high-pitch shriek, was a highlight of the tour. There’s also a quick stop for some poetry with Emily Andersen. Her ode to hipster boyfriends is a perfect little slice of 2013 Melbourne.

Some of the best moments came from the group’s interactions with strangers on the street – all of whom were remarkably good-natured about being set upon by a large group of neon gigglers. A beautiful sense of camaraderie develops and at the end of the 90 minutes, you do feel a bit like a group of travellers from somewhere better, out of your own time.

2013: When We Were Idiots starts at the Fringe Hub – Lithuanian Club Foyer and is on until October 5.


5 Good Reasons to see a show at The Imperial during MICF

We love supporting smaller independent venues away from The Town Hall during the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, ’cause lets face it, everyone knows about that venue – they really don’t need any of our help. We were sad to say goodbye to the little bar Rue Rabelons as a venue in Melbourne, but we’re happy to announce a new venue for the festival up the posh end of town, opposite the Government House – The Imperial Hotel. The comedy there is being curated by Angela Thompson and Micah D Higbed. It will have 2 rooms running through the festival with a variety of young and up and coming performers giving it a great vibe. They had their own mini Gala on Thursday night where host Jimmy James Eaton and performers Tom Ward, Victoria Healy and Neil Sinclair (above) gave us a great taste of what’s to come. So with fourteen shows to choose from, a bar and some yummy pub food deals on offer, don’t forget to hop on a tram and pop up to The Imperial during the festival this year.

5 Good Reasons to see a show at The Imperial during MICF

1) There are 14 great shows on in the one venue!

1. Andy Matthews & Tony Besselink – Atchieve Nothing
2. Balderdash (Tim Clark & Liam Ryan)
3. Dave Fairclough – In Love
4. Elliot Cyngler is Too Small to Function
5. Jason Geary & Jimmy James Eaton – Sketch-ual Healing
6. Jonathan Schuster’s Chrysalis
7. Micah D Higbed – Noteworthy
8. Neil Sinclair – Phoney
9. Sam Peterson, Natalie Harris & Nick Quon – 3 Little Gigs
10. Sullivan & Bok
11. The Time Machine
12. These Kids Are Good
13. Victoria Healy’s Anatomy
14. Xavier Toby – White Trash

2) The shows are all cheap. Most are $15 full price. Some are even cheaper. Also, cheap student tickets on the door.

3) Independently produced! We’ve even kitted the place out ourselves. BYO stage? Yes siree.

4) The Imperial has great food, and they are doing even more special specials during MICF. They also have a top notch drinks selection.

5) All the shows are great. We don’t have any duds, hidden away in a smaller font. They are ALL THE SAME FONT SIZE!

Check out facebook.com/ImpyComedy for updates on the shows, pics, giveaways and competitions. We’re also on @ImpyComedy if you’re in to that kind of thing.

The Imperial Hotel is at 2 – 8 Bourke St Melbourne on the corner of Spring St.

See the Melbourne International Comedy Festival Guide and website for show details