Dad Art, Damien Wilkins (2016) NZ

Thank god Jesus Christ this book is set in Wellington and it just says that it is and all the suburbs are real and no one’s yearning to be in Norway or anything. I think what I liked about it most, are the scenes out in public where everyone has to react to something. Like the scene where a child won’t go down the slide at the park and their dad has to walk up the slide and get them back down and everyone’s shouting suggestions at him like it’s his fault, the scene where someone passes out on the tennis courts at the apartment complex and no one’s quite sure if they should be the one to call the ambulance, and the scene at the Gallipoli exhibition where it’s just kind of horrible and not really for children and everyone else seems fine with it.

It kind of reminds me of one of my favourite things, which is when you’re on the bus and someone else on the bus answers their phone and says, “I’m on the bus”, and it makes you become aware all of a sudden that everyone on the bus is in their own story where they’re the protagonist who’s on the bus and everyone else is just an extra. I was talking about this is one of my favourite things the other day after class, and then I went to the architecture building and overhead someone in the bathrooms saying, “I’m just on the toilet, can I call you back?”


The New Animals, Pip Adam (2017) NZ

I still keep thinking about how this book has a character walk into the sea. I was going to write that my character was so embarrassed that she wanted to walk into the sea, and then I remembered no there is already a book where someone actually walks into the sea in the same place, and I had to write something else instead.


All This Crying is Making Me Hungry, Ray Shipley, Bats Theatre

I saw eight shows in the Comedy Festival, and this was one of my favourite two. The other one I don’t want to talk about because I thought the comedian was hot and then she said she was born in the year 2000 and I’m still very embarrassed about it now. People my age are always saying that they’re so old, but I had never felt old until that particular moment. Also her mum had bought 20 tickets so everyone else there was some family member or associate and I was just some misc randy old woman. Anyway, Ray Shipley is 28 which is older than me and I can say what I want about them which is that their comedy show was very good. Everyone there was gay except Monica from the scriptwriting stream who immediately misgendered Ray when we left the show and then shouted OH NO.

Comedy has definitely changed in the past few years and there always needs to be a theme or a point or a message to the shows, and they don’t always need to be funny anymore. Like Nanette, that’s the first mainstream example I can think of, but it was definitely happening before that. I think I saw my first sad comedy show in 2011, it was Bikes I’ve Owned Versus Girls I’ve Fallen In Love With, by Joseph Harper, which was also nominated for the Billy T that year. That was ages ago. I saw it at the Mt Victoria Tramping Club hall. There was a real trend at that time to put on shows in old halls because the rent was so cheap. Every weekend in Auckland was at the Mt Eden Scout Hall or the Old Folk’s Association. I just tried to look up Joseph Harper and I don’t know what he does anymore, I know that he wrote scripts for Get It to Te Papa for the Spinoff but it seems like he stopped writing plays and doing comedy in 2013.

Anyway, the reason why I liked Ray Shipley’s show so much is because it was this authentic, everyday stuff that I’m always into, it wasn’t flashy or super conceptual and there weren’t lights or projections or anything, and it was really well done. It also had very good jokes about two of my favourite things, Vodafone Free Txt Weekend, and an uncle watching you eat ham at Christmas and saying, I thought you were a lesbian.

I thought all of this was very irrelevant to my own writing and then I remembered one of my protagonists is a comedian and I only mentioned it once, so yes, very relevant, very much fine that I went to eight comedy shows even though I don’t have any money.

Several months later, something that has stuck with me from this show is Ray’s mother saying that they should just marry their girlfriend on holiday in Indonesia. You can’t get gay married in Indonesia. People forget now that things are mostly fine here that things are still very terrible in lots of other places. I put this in my novel.


Rebecca K. Reilly (Ngāti Hine, Ngāti Wai) is a writer from Tāmaki Makaurau. She finished writing her novel Vines as part of her MA thesis at the IIML this year.

Rebecca K. Reilly’s novel Vines was awarded the 2019 Adam Foundation Prize on the night this issue was launched. — Eds

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