[2008008.2] Nick Sun – Tear Out Your Eyes (The Burnout Show)

Nick Sun – Tear Out Your Eyes (for the second time!)

Nick Sun @ The Garden Shed

10:45pm, Sat 15 Mar 2008

Making good on my pledge to attend multiple Nick Sun shows, I wait outside The Garden Shed for this, his last Adelaide show. I wind up chatting to the the cool bearded Garden spruiker (you know the one) while Justin Hamilton’s show finishes up. Nick shows up, a bit pissed and ready to go. We chat as Hammo’s crapulence gently buffets us from within the Shed; Nick asks me what kind of show he should do. I issue the challenge: “Do something I’d really fucking hate.” We both look at Hammo cheesing on through the open door of the Shed, look back at each other, and laugh.

We’re on the same page.

He disappears to prep the show. The Spruiker returns, we chat some more. A young woman and her boyfriend roll up at the door, enquiring as to who’s on next: “Nick Sun. He’s fucking awesome,” I say, “but somewhat an acquired taste.” The Spruiker agrees: “He’s different,” he says, before cautioning “He’s not the same type of comedian as, say, Justin Hamilton. He’s a bit more…”

“…caustic,” I finish.

“Oh, that’s alright,” says the woman, “I hate Hammo.” They join the queue.

There’s a fair line building up. Sure, there’s a bunch of pissed people just chucking 15 bucks at a chunk of comedy on the last night in The Garden for 2008, but once the door to The Shed opens, it gets about a third full.

It doesn’t last.

Hidden beneath a sheet, Sun opens the show with… noise. A deep, throaty, continuous noise. After a minute or so of eardrum abuse, the crowd starts getting restless, and the taunts start: “Shutup! Start the fucking show!”

The figure beneath the sheet snaps to attention. “Is the first person ready?”

“Yes!” I yell out.

“Is the second person ready?”

“Yes!” chime in a pair of girls near the front.

“That was more than one person,” the sheet objects. “Is the first person ready?”


“Is the second person ready?”


“Is the third person ready?”


“Is the fourth person ready?”


“That was the same person as the second person. Is the first person ready?”

…you can only imagine how long this went on – maybe five minutes, probably ten. Eventually, Sun removes the sheet to cheers from the increasingly-less-bemused members of the audience. He launches into some familiar material; the room is dead, save some giggles from the back and my own. Sun points me out to the crowd; “that’s Pete,” he says, “he’s my friend.”

I am the recipient of many odd looks.

The couple I spoke to outside the Shed prior to the show are sitting in the front row; He is most certainly not enjoying the show. Sun asks him why; He says “because you’re not funny.” There’s a few hoots, some nervous laughs; He’s offered the opportunity to leave, but She declines. They’re in it for the long haul, apparently.

Not if Nick has anything to do with it.

Sun wanders into the audience, starts rearranging the chairs. Hey, it’s the last show in the Garden Shed, why not help out with the packing up? Soon, Chair Mountain is formed; The Couple are sitting, prone and alone in an oval of chairless empty space. Their presence there is comical in itself, and the show continues behind them as Sun accosts the audience in search of inspiration. Some people display the most abject looks of horror as he verbally cajoles them; one girl attempts to take Sun to task over his use of the English Language when he drops the C-Word into his queries. His overly florid, yet profanity-free response, sends her scurrying from the Shed. There’s a smattering of cheers as she leaves.

Nick Sun is slowly winning some fans. Besides myself, there’s a couple of diehard fans down the back, and a clump of people in the middle are warming to his style. There’s a clump of pretty young things near the front; he starts talking to them… it’s comedy death. The kids think they’re funny, then freeze. One of the diehards yells out “Piggy dance!” Nick’s ears prick up, he motions to the sound guy, and a three-second snippet of the familiar Seinfeld bass-notes starts looping over and over and over. Sun lies on the ground, starts walking in a circle, punctuating the loop with gutteral “HEY PIGGY PIGGY” roars.

It’s starting to get weird.

The Pretty Young Things run away. There’s more applause.

We’ve been going about ninety minutes now, and the Garden Shed staff have a look of absolute bemusement on their face. They’ve thrown the doors open – they try to grab five bucks, maybe ten, where they can, but essentially it’s a free-for-all; people wander in, observe Sun’s self-destruction for a moment, before turning tail and running (to the applause of the diehards). Eventually Sun sneaks back under the sheet and starts making that noise again… after a minute, he makes his intention clear by announcing that the show is over, but the noise will continue if anyone feels like staying. The Couple take this opportunity to bail; She’s won this battle, they’d stayed to the death. A few more minutes of noise, and the remainder of us dribble out into the night air. We diehards all look at each other in glee, beaming grins across our faces – that was certainly one amazing shared experience.

I wandered home and sent Nick an e-mail expressing my gratitude. It’s the only thing I’m capable of. The Burnout Show has left me spent and aloof. And very, very happy.

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