This Almost Famaus Guest Post was written by George Foulds. Almost Famaus takes no responsibility for any profanity or talk of masturbation!
A group of fonts walk into a bar. “Get out of my pub!” shouts the barman, “we don’t serve your type in here.”
Although it may be difficult to believe (particularly after that opening line), I am not a professional comedian. Adam Rozenbachs is. He is a retired paperboy, who has turned to comedy and writing and has spent the previous year abstaining from alcohol. Off the booze, dry-docked. We had a discussion about that teetotal, very boring, early night adventure and his new show (inspired by the grog hiatus) BREAKING BOOZE.
For the record we met in a public bar and Adam took water and I thought about a raspberry and then ordered a small beer. I wasn’t sure if my choice would cause him to relapse, wasn’t sure how well he would handle temptation. It turns out Adam has a strong character. He told me he had a show that night and had to stay sharp, he was going to try out some new material and wasn’t sure how it would be received.
When I asked him what the driving reason behind the break from alcohol was, he said this:
“I was 39 when I stopped drinking and I hadn’t had more than two weeks off since I was 21, unless I was sick. I wasn’t an alchy, but I needed a break. I was very curious. Curious to see what I was like without it.”
Adam’s curiosity sent him on a journey of sober self-discovery, landmarked equally by obstacles and triumphs.
“The first three months were lonely. I was single. You can’t stay out long with your mates, everyone’s talking shit. You can’t keep up. Things aren’t as funny as they think they are. People would constantly say ‘C’mon mate just have one’ – then you start doubting yourself. Am I that fucking boring?”
When opportunities of romance arose, as can happen at a bar or thriving disco, Adam was presented with new dilemmas.
“When you’re talking to someone who’s drunk you feel like your taking advantage of them. All of sudden when I wasn’t drinking I had morals. It was disgusting. When you’re sober and they’re drunk and you say ‘come back to my car’ you sound like a fucking predator.”
The deeper Adam went into this foreign and lonely world the more anecdotes he collected.
“I began to notice all these things when I was out – that guy staggering down the street, that was me. The smashed guy totally consumed by his slice of pizza, that was me. You don’t notice the underlying aggression either – when you’re drunk. I was more observant than I’d ever been. My mates didn’t like that! I was sharper than I’d ever been on stage too – I wasn’t tired.”
I asked Adam about his liver and brain, about his health in general.
“I like to keep fit and I realised that was the pinnacle of my life – I won’t be fitter than that year, ever again. It’s all down hill from here.”
The beer garden remained quiet and we talked on. My beer had gone warm. I wanted to know about comedians and substance abuse. Why might there be a connection between the profession and getting high or wasted?
“To escape it, to get away from the all those thoughts in your head. Yeah, you would drink. I woke up at 3 this morning just buzzing. But sometimes you don’t want this. You just want to sleep. I am either on or off. A lot of comics and performers are either all or nothing.”
Being half-funny doesn’t really work, does it? I offered.
“There’s a commitment to it. That’s why when you drink you go hard. We’re not quitters – HOHO! We take it all the way to the end.”
Adam has been committed to his craft for a long time now. For the last decade he has written jokes for television, worked on radio and, of course, performed stand-up at festivals and in clubs.
“When it’s comedy festival and it’s 22 nights in a row, it’s completely fucked. You’re wrecked – most people get sick at the end of the festival – they’re running on adrenaline and then they’re knackered.”
Hard work, quality control and research are components that make up a stand-up show. So Adam said.
“For the Breaking Booze show I emailed friends, just to ask them for memories of me when I was drunk- points of reference. Here is some advice: don’t do that. It’s just like starting up your own intervention. There are some things you don’t need to know.”
As my beer finished I began to notice my hands again. It made me wonder about the inherent drinker’s problem of idle hands. What did Adam do with them when he went out? Did he shelve them in his pocket? Did he clench a hat in each fist? Did he run them through his hair over and over?
“At first I’d go water for water. I gave up sugary crap years ago. I couldn’t sleep though – I had to get up for the toilet all night, it was a fucking joke. If you had four beers I’d have four waters – then I realised I don’t need that much fucking water in my life. Once you break the habit of having something in your hand, that was the hardest thing. I just can’t drink that much liquid. If I said to you ‘drink three litres of water’ you’d say ‘nah’. If it was three litres of beer – you’d say ‘Party Time!’ It’s a weird thing.”
The day was getting on and Adam had to prepare himself for the evening show. I had to go watch True Detective. Before we parted ways, I wanted to know what he was going to give up next.
“Geez, it’d be great to say masturbation.”
I asked him if he ever tried that before going on stage – to help calm the nerves. We both agreed that masturbating would only make you tired.
“And sensitive,” Adam extended.
Yes, you’d have no edge, I concurred.
“People wouldn’t like to know you’re doing that. Especially the people back stage with you.”
Adam gave a humorous and realistic rendition of a comedian backstage, interrupted whilst masturbating before a show.
“I don’t know what’s on the agenda to give up next. Maybe I’ll just enjoy life for a while.”
Adam will be performing BREAKING BOOZE, at the Melbourne Comedy Festival, with previews starting this Thursday. Get along and laugh at one man’s journey from boozer to sobriety. Does he find Zen, carpet riding, enlightenment or social destruction?
Venue: The Cube, ACMI [Tuesday-Sunday]; Backstage Room, Melbourne Town Hall [Mondays]
Dates: 27th March – 20th April, Previews 27th – 30th March
Tickets: Full $25.00, Concession $23.00 & Group bookings (3 or more) $22.50, Previews and Tightarse Tuesday $22.00
Times: 7:15pm [Tuesday – Saturday]; 6:15pm Sundays; 7:00pm Mondays)
Bookings: Ticketmaster 1300 660 013 or www.comedyfestival.com.au