What A Comedian’s Notebook Really Looks Like
I’ve always been obsessed with stationery. Always. Stickers used to be currency in our house in the 80s. I’ll swap you a 90210 for two Gem & The Rockers, you’d say.
These days, stationery is more of a necessity than a hobby. Because when it comes to comedy a notebook and pen really is a comic’s only tool. Other than a microphone, of course – comics and microphones are like mosquitoes and flames. But almost every comedian I know will carry a notebook with them at all times. And I mean ALL times, should you ever consider dating one.
There’s just something about the creative process that can’t be captured by a computer. That initial little seed of thought that needs to put somewhere to germinate. And while I write my columns and shows and blogs on my computer, they all start life in a notebook.
Someone asked me the other day what that actually looks like. How disorganised it is? How do you remember what’s what and which gag goes where? Well, I’ll tell you. Heck, I’ll show you.
This is basically how my life looks. Give or take a bottle of wine or two.
Coffee, carbs and a whole lotta lists. Organised chaos, more or less. I say organised because I have a system. Of sorts.
Okay, I know it doesn’t look like it. But when I got my first job out of university (Dolly magazine, 2005, great times), someone got me a Moleskine as a good-work-on-not-being-unemployed-anymore gift. “Because you’re a real writer now!” they said. I nodded knowingly but had to wait until they left so I could look it up. Turns out some of history’s greatest writers and creative thinkers swore by their Moleskines – Oscar Wilde, Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso. I’ve been a convert to the church of Moleskine ever since. They’re the little black dress of notebooks. I think my favourite thing about them is actually how they age as use them. They end up looking like a movie prop, all worn and lived in. A little like this…
I generally have three notebooks on the go, in total. I use Cahier Ruled Notebooks and Classic Soft Cover Pocket Notebooks. One is basically my calendar – I’ve just never converted to an electronic one and I still write every appointment down. The second is my creative space – every story and joke and party idea goes in here. It’s a jumble, but if I don’t put it in there straight away, I’ll probably forget it. The third is my one-line-a-day journal. Every day I make myself write one positive sentence about that day. Just one. Makes for epically cheerful reading when you go back and read a month at a time. Together they are the only reason I get anywhere or do anything in a timely fashion.
Then, there’s my system cards! They’re like old-timey library cards.
These are like pre-notebooks jotters. A lot of jokes start out on there and end up in the notebook when they’re ready. I also write out full chunky bits of script and mix and match then together till I feel like everything’s in the right order.
There are also the sticky tabs – colour coded and divided into sections like comedy, TV, dinner parties, travel, Cosmo and Beauty & The Backpacker (a new series I just launched which you can check out here!).
And that’s basically how I roll. Creatively speaking.
Oh, except for the Pez, of course. My lucky Yoda Pez Dispenser comes with my to every gig or MC job or live TV or radio appearance ever. Because SUPERSTITION. (Also, the Pez helps with the dry mouth I always get from nerves!)
Oh yeah, and here’s some guy that was spray-painting a wall when I was down in my workshop that day.
I bet he uses notebooks too.
Oh – and get this! You can win all the stationery here! Or whatever else you’d like to spend $100 on at your local Officeworks. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and address with OFFICEWORKS in the subject line and it could well be yours.
Winner will be drawn at random and informed by email. Good luck! Competition closes on February 26, 2016.