Justin Hamilton is homeward bound

Feb 03, 2015

Sometimes when stand-up comedian Justin Hamilton returns to Adelaide, he can’t wait to leave again – but it’s not because he’s having a terrible time.

In this first of a series of contributions from 2015 Adelaide Fringe comedians, Hamilton takes readers on a trip down memory lane…

Returning home can be exhausting.

There are so many friends you want to see. There are so many places you want to visit. There are so many moments you want to reconnect with.

Often when I return I’m performing at the Rhino Room, so no matter what I’d like to do, I have to remember I have a job to do that night. No time to head down to Eros and nail a massive meal when you have to haul your arse up on stage for an hour. Nobody wants to see a comedian who would rather nap than crack gags.

As I grow older, the exhaustion comes from the nostalgia that floods my veins from the moment I land at the airport. I miss the days of walking on the tarmac making me feel like the Beatles when they first visited here. My taxi takes me past the old Underdale uni campus where I first performed back in 1994 to indifferent kids who would rather be pulling bongs filled with the pungent Adelaide pot that makes interstaters lose their mind.

I can’t walk past Adelaide Oval and Memorial Drive without thinking of the great concerts I once saw there. My first concert was KISS back in 1980. In retrospect, I don’t give Mum enough credit for taking her eight-year-old son to see a band that was already on the downward slide in the rest of the world.

More importantly, when I was 11 she took a gamble on a concert that changed my life. For a massive $20, Mum took me to see David Bowie and from 1983 on I have worshipped the great man. When I interviewed him for Triple j in 2004, Mum was the first person I called to share that I’d made Bowie laugh. A week later I returned the favour and bought her a ticket to see him in Adelaide. Yes, it was slightly more than $20, but I would have paid one hundred times that amount to repay her initial roll of the dice.

My memories aren’t just filled with bands and music when I return to Adelaide. My love of basketball fills me with joy when I think back to the halcyon days of the Adelaide 36ers with superstars like the Mean Machine Al Green, the Chairman of the Boards Mark Davis and local heroes like the Iceman Daryl Pearce and Mike Swish McKay.

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… all these memories, all these emotions, they can just be so overwhelming

I was lucky enough to play against a true gentleman in Brett Maher in the district league and I watched with fascination as he took his game to the elite level. Every day I’d open up The Advertiser to read what Boti Nagy had to say. I find it heartening to follow him on Twitter and see he’s keeping up the good fight by reporting with passion and an indefatigable spirit about our local teams the 36ers and the Adelaide Lightning.

Finally walking down Rundle Street is a cacophony of emotion. My first comedy gig was at the old Boltz Café.   It was there I met my good friend Lehmo and we’ve been close for decades now. They were exciting times and eventually when it closed the era continued at The Rhino Room. Here, at the turn of the century, I produced and hosted shows that showcased the best of Australian and overseas talent in an environment that is conducive to electric and memorable performances.

So many memories.

So many great people.

Sometimes I come back and I’ll have the occasional radio host call me a traitor for leaving, but as I point out, it is much easier to be an Adelaide boy in your hometown than it is abroad. From the continuous jokes about our water (boring) to the way we pronounce Lego (Lay-go is correct and the rest of the country is wrong) to having a crack at our footy teams (I can’t believe I actually barrack for Port against some teams … my Glenelg Tigers upbringing is ashamed), it can be a tedious state of affairs.

Yet when I return sometimes, I can’t wait to leave. Not because I’m having a terrible time but all these memories, all these emotions, they can just be so overwhelming. When I board that flight and we’re about to take off, I often sigh at the thought that I can now relax.

And as the plane banks left and we fly over the city, I’m already plotting my next opportunity to return so I can embrace all those memories and emotions again.

Stand-up comedian, writer, director and Adelaide Fringe award winner Justin Hamilton will performing his new show, Snacks, in The Campanile at the Garden of Unearthly Delights from March 2-15.



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