We will NEVER learn from our mistakes

I had a great privilege tonight. I got on stage to perform for the first time in years. I didn’t stop doing standup because I didn’t’ like it or didn’t feel I was going anywhere. I stopped because one night as I left for a show my little boy said: “Stay home and make us laugh, Daddy.”

It is such a short window of time that kids want you around all the time and since there is no used by date on funny, I thought I would pick it up again after my children hated me and wanted to be with their friends. Something a parent always knows is coming one day.

That decision hasn’t been easy for me. I like to tell myself that I’m good with it because I still get my performance itch scratched from my podcast, and keep my comedy writing muscles toned by writing for other comics. But it hasn’t been easy to see people I started out with getting their much deserving successes while I toil away in my subterranean office writing another script to be tossed in a bin by some assistant of an assistant of an assistant to the main assistant in charge of vetting scripts for a producer. Or selling off a crushingly good bit of material to another comic knowing the kudos and adulation they will get with it. It can sting sometimes.

So being given a chance to perform as part of comedy debate for the 2017 Brisbane Comedy Festival was great on a few levels. One it meant that I was still remembered and I’ll take that. Two I got to make an audience laugh again, and that felt pretty damn great.

When I got home and asked my wife how the kids were, she said fine but that they wanted me to be there. I went into their rooms and adjusted their blankets and gave them a kiss. I knew what I have always known; I made the perfect decision. They are all the audience I need…until they want a different show. Then I’m all yours again, world.

The mushy stuff out of the way. I’m not one to EVER waste material. For the debate tonight, we were only told the topic an hour before the show and had to write the material just before the show. I love that kind of pressure and think I did a damn fine job.

The topic was “We, as people, don’t learn from our mistakes.” I was on the affirmative side, so I had to argue that we don’t learn from our mistakes. Our team did great, but it wasn’t to be the other team snuck in the victory, but it was a great time. Below is my speech about why we don’t learn from our mistakes. Enjoy.


Tonight, you are going to hear from this motley crew of truth sayers that it is impossible for us as a species to learn from our mistakes. And from this team, you are going to hear the equivalent of someone standing here saying ‘it’s fake news.’

It’s like the great Friedrich Nietzsche who once said: “Stupid is as stupid does.” No wait, I think that was Donald Trump.

But that doesn’t change the point that stupid is as stupid does, and we are all stupid in different ways. How many of you in the audience have made a toasted sandwich and taken a bite ALL to quickly and burned your mouth? Eh? There are two types of people that answer this question, those that have and dirty stinking liars. But what do you do the next time you make that delicious toasted sandwich. You do the same damn thing again! We don’t learn!

There are perfect examples all around us all the time. I bet there are people here tonight that love to Netflix and chill. Good on you, I always end up Stan and Sobbing, but I’ve made bad choices, and I keep making them like renewing Stan without there being anything new or good on it.

We love our Netflix, and Netflix is great. It gave us wonderful programs like Stranger Things, but it also has given us Fuller House. Because someone saw an annoying show from the late 80s that was so embarrassing and dated people talking about it with rolled eyes. And they made another one! This is the same network that has given us groundbreaking documentaries and more original movies than any other studio. It is also the studio that signed Adam Sandler to a multi-picture deal….and that was AFTER Pixel, Click, and Mr Deeds, and every movie that isn’t 50 First Dates and Happy Gilmore. The Shakespearian period of the Sandler filmography.

If we really learned from our mistakes would there be more than one Kardashian that’s famous? If we learned from our mistakes would there be a Greatest Hits album for Nickelback?

Even look at this stage tonight. Clearly, the other team has made a mistake by even bothering to get up and talk after this magnificent rant but they will because they don’t learn. I’m not immune from it either. I chose to go first giving them ample time to go through every stage of grief over this verbal slaying instead of acting like Harvey Cartel in Pulp Fiction and cleaning up after my teammates pop a verbal cap in their behinds. I am mistakenly giving them time so that they can collect themselves in order to give me a verbal comeback like…nu uh….you are…shut up.

I have been a comedian for over twenty years; I haven’t learned jack squat. I still think that go to gold is to pull out my Sean Connery impersonation. There are three things about doing Sean Connery, one…it hasn’t been funny since the 90s, two hardly anyone knows who Sean Connery is anymore and three….it’s bloody fantastic!

Look at our own Australian entertainment landscape and see that we don’t learn from our mistakes. We live in a country where someone like Karl Stefanovic gets paid a great deal of money to be on for hours five days a week all year, and Shaun Micallef only gets one episode a week for 13 weeks? Yahoo Serious got to make more than one bloody movie, come on! Do I need to say more? I do because I have another minute or so.

Look at politics, does a country like my old home country of the US elect someone like George W Bush twice, think it’s horrible. They then elect someone like Obama twice and then after being cool for eight years they vote someone in that’s WORSE than Bush! Does that sound like a group of people that learn? It sounds more like a group of people that keep their hand on the burning stove because it’s warm. Even we don’t learn we brought Pauline Hanson BACK into politics after we got rid of her the first time. That’s like throwing red wine on the carpet because we don’t deserve nice things. Or we did it because whenever she gets on TV, we think…oh boy, here we go. Buckle in. Either way…we don’t learn from our mistakes. And nor should we. They keep the world interesting, they keep the world unique, and they make sure that if intelligent life comes for a visit, they will have noped the hell out and return to whatever gleep glorp galaxy they come from.

I think it was Mahatma Gandhi that said “My milkshakes bring all the boys to the yard”, Or he didn’t, but now I can’t get the image of him dancing to it out my head…and neither can you. But also, I didn’t learn from the beginning of my speech where that joke didn’t work either! Thank you.

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