Guest Blog – Grant Busé Presents Thoughtful New Comedy at the Fringe
Grant discusses writing this nostalgic new show from his childhood bedroom.
Musical comedian Grant Busé blogs for Broadway World on the contribution Sentimental to the fringe and the joys and pitfalls of nostalgia for himself and his audience.
Comedy can come from the strangest places. I wrote a comedy show locked up in my childhood bedroom.
It was April 2020, I had just fulfilled every thirty-year-old man’s dream and moved back in with my parents. I had lived a wonderful life in London working as a full-time comedian. Strangely, it wasn’t the financial insecurity of a career in comedy that forced this move, but a little thing we call a global pandemic.
Suddenly, after years abroad, I found myself once again in my hometown of Brisbane, Australia. Potentially contagious, I was immediately isolated in my childhood room for two weeks. I hadn’t seen my parents in over a year and their first words were, “Go to your room!” I fondly remember my mother throwing a banana at me across the hall as if I were a great ape in captivity. Instantly I was back to my old childhood habits – playing Nintendo, watching Judge Judy and taking prolonged bubble baths. It seemed like all my favorite movies and shows were being remade or rebooted to comfort me in this time of crisis. The Karate Kid, the new Prince of Bel Air and sex and the city all got the nostalgic porn treatment.
As I emerged from my musky cocoon, my parents quickly put me to work sorting through a bunch of old boxes. People were planning on downsizing, and I came back just in time to help them sell my childhood home. The boxes were filled with old newsletters, macaroni craft projects, baby toys, trinkets and trophies (discreet flex). It’s amazing how hard it is to let go of something you’ve completely forgotten about.
If I ever thought I was sentimental, my father is sentimental! As I was flipping through these comic gold boxes, I randomly found a slightly rotting piece of wood. My dad saved leftover wood from a fifth-grade project where we built a rocket together. Did he still have the rocket? No. For reasons I’ll never understand, he kept the wood. Did the rotten piece of wood make the cut to come to the next house? You bet he did! The man ended up selling his record collection but couldn’t part with a five-dollar memory-infused balsa block.
The house eventually sold, and as I walked around the shell of my childhood one last time, a wave of nostalgia swirled around me like a tightly wrapped burrito. Anyone can buy a house, but it takes years of memories to make it a home. Nostalgia comes from the Greek; this roughly translates to “homecoming pain”. In 2020, I said goodbye to two homes – my adult home in London and my childhood home in Australia. It makes perfect sense that in my isolation I created a nostalgia show called ‘Sentimental!’
Historically, nostalgia was considered a transient illness seen in soldiers stationed at war. Now we see it as almost trivial comfort, fodder for our own entertainment. Maybe our collective longing for bygone eras was just a symptom of COVID19 that scientists missed? Either way, nostalgia isn’t what it used to be! Looking at all the reboots, remakes, and remixes that have been released recently, it’s clear that we’ve become obsessed with the past and those good old mythical days. But were the good old days really that good, or has time just tinged our memories with a rosy shade? Questions to be answered in a comedy show perhaps?
So, what did I get out of my forced confinement in a room? I have good material, a VHS copy of ‘Men in Black’, new cherished memories but also an understanding that I can no longer live in the past. I need to build a new house to one day call home. Fortunately, I have wood to get started.
Grant Busé: SentiMENTAL!, Ballon Doré, Teviot (Disco), 8:30 p.m., August 3-29 (not August 15)
Photo credit: Joel Devereux